It seems that just about every day there is a ‘revolutionary’ new diet program that pops up on the internet. You’ll find a whole bunch of crazy diets that are promoted by A-list celebrities or even those that have testimonials consisting of 200 freakin’ pages, you know the ones. There’s a whole bunch of them like the grapefruit diet, the soup diet, Atkin’s diet (yes), five-bite diet, etc. These are all nothing but a whole bunch of garbage but the thing is, they work, albeit for a short period of time.
Why do they work? Well, because they drastically cut your calories. It’s common knowledge that if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. This weight will not always be in the form of fat either, there’s water and muscle lost as well, although it depends on the severity of the calorie restriction. The average human body needs anywhere from 1500-2500 calories a day just to survive and perform the daily tasks that humans do. You know, walking, breathing, etc.
These crazy diets will have you eating only tiny amounts of food which will barely add up to 1000 calories if you’re lucky. That’s a deficit of anywhere between 500-1500 calories! You could just eat a piece or two of fried chicken a day and still lose weight, at least you’ll get to eat something you enjoy.
These diets will screw up your insides but hey, at least, you’ll lose weight, right? Not for long. You see, once your body gets used to such a drastic reduction in calories, it enters starvation mode (think power saver on your laptop). It slows down your metabolism and starts storing calories as fat because it doesn’t know when your next meal will be.
As soon as you come off the diet, your body will be a mess and any little extra amount that you eat will be stored as fat and eventually, all that weight that you just lost will be back and it will bring along a few extra friends.
It’s not just your metabolism that slows down either, when you’re in a calorie deficit for long, your hormone levels take a hit as well. Eventually, your cortisol levels spike and your testosterone falls. You start feeling more stressed out and any fat loss comes to a halt. You start gaining weight and become a cranky annoying person. Sounds familiar?
Yes, you can eat whatever you want as long as its below your calorie limit and still lose weight but there are two problems with this method. First one is that you will lose fat but along with that you will also lose a good amount of muscle mass, whereas if you’re eating ample amounts of high-quality protein, you will preserve most of your muscles. The second issue is that bad food will wreak havoc on your insides. Your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels will all take a hit. Is it really worth it? Just eat healthily.
Now you may have heard of intermittent fasting (IF). Do not mistake this for another crazy fad diets. Usually, these fasts only last for a few hours for a max of up to 24 hours as compared to weeks in these fad diets. This just isn’t enough time to do any damage to your body and in fact, can be quite useful for healing and cleansing your body.
So, How Should I Lose Weight?
Sorry to tell you but the old-fashioned way of eating good quality food and exercising more still works. Just don’t eat too little. Go online, find a calorie calculator and find out your maintenance calories. From there it’s just as simple as eating 250-500 calories below your maintenance levels and you will lose a healthy amount of weight without doing any damage to your body or your hormones.
Eat plenty of fibrous vegetables, fruits and good quality, lean meats. Aim for a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats and you are good to go. A common ratio is 40% carbs, 40% protein and 20% fat. You may need more or fewer carbs depending on your insulin sensitivity but as long as you’re eating enough protein and good quality food, there’s not much to worry about. The more you lose weight and start becoming serious about your health and fitness goals, the more serious you can get with your diet and start dealing in those macronutrients.