Diets that make you eat very little are a dangerous, short and unpleasant fix.
Sure, you lose some weight in the beginning, due to the shortage of calories, but as the times goes by, the hormonal imbalance, stress and giving up on cravings makes your efforts backfire.
A diet that you can’t keep your entire life isn’t an effective diet. The weight regained after dropping a fad diet is sometimes even bigger than the weight lost.
And we all know how bad we feel when we try any of these fad diets. We are going to discuss in this article the reasons behind it.
Your Body Needs Proper Fuel
Let’s say that you want to make your car faster, so you think about improving it. Maybe adding some better parts, some better additives for the fuel, and anything else that you can add to it to make it better.
But you never thought about making the car faster by running low on gas.
And yet, there are people that try to lose weight by starving their bodies to the point where it’s doing more harm than good.
When you eat less is not the same thing as when you don’t eat at all, as we discussed in the intermittent fasting vs. eating less article. Your metabolism and muscle mass drop, so you have a much harder time losing weight as times goes by.
Even if you eat what your body needs, the fact that you eat too little all the time is going to mess up your whole hormonal system. Hunger will grow, stress will build up and your insulin sensitivity will decrease.
Also, without providing all the macronutrients, vitamins and minerals you need, as it always happens with fad diets, your body will start to become weak.
Restrictive Diets Cause Hormonal Imbalance
Restrictive diets affect all the hormones that are used to regulate your food intake. Here are some of the effects that studies proved eating less has on our bodies.
Your hunger hormone ghrelin is secreted more when you eat less. That means your body is asking for more and more food. This happens because one of the things that cause the stop of this hormone is when you have big and healthy meals.
By eating less, you are not fasting but you are not eating enough either, so it confuses your body.
Eating less will also make your body adjust to the lowered intake of calories by slowing down the metabolism. That means you will have no energy to do things, you will have trouble focusing and your body is going to burn a reduced amount of calories.
And eating less doesn’t make your insulin levels to drop, especially if you eat something sugary every day. When those cravings are too powerful, people usually resort to eating sweets, which will keep the insulin levels high, and thus your body won’t open up your fat reserves.
Having high levels of insulin over long periods of times is also linked to developing type 2 diabetes, as this leads to insulin resistance.
We have an amazing survival mechanism to deal with the lack of food, but all of these processes are stopped by eating less.
When we fast, the body keeps the metabolic rate high, the insulin levels low, it increases the human growth hormone and noradrenaline production, and it opens the “gates” to burn all the fat storage we have. These things don’t happen when we eat less all the time!
Stress Has Terrible Effects on Your Health
Besides the fact that you get a slowed metabolism and not enough nutrients to keep your body healthy, fad diets also produce a lot of stress.
Your body is literally in pain because it doesn’t have the nutrients it needs, it’s hungry all the time, and all that fad diet is doing is making your life miserable.
When you are under stress for long periods, you get chronic stress, and this has terrible bad effects on your health.
Here are some symptoms that chronic stress has:
– Difficulty concentrating.
– Difficulty sleeping.
– Disorganized thoughts.
– Digestive problems.
– Feeling helpless.
– Changes in appetite.
– Low self-esteem.
– A perceived loss of control.
– Loss of sexual desire.
– Frequent illnesses or infections.
– It contributes to the development of many disorders, including: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, sexual dysfunction, a weakened immune system, skin irritation, gastrointestinal disorders, autoimmune diseases, respiratory infections, burnout, insomnia, anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
This is a handful of bad things that come from chronic stress. That means fad diets put your body at risk and make you gain weight simply by causing a lot of stress in your body.
And the stress factor is easy to understand. Fad diets make you eat little amounts to the point where you are never full, and you never get to enjoy most of the things you actually like the taste of.
So you put yourself through this ordeal considering it’s the only way to lose weight. As the hunger grows and the stress accumulated, you give in, and you eat something delicious with a lot of sugar in it.
But now you feel guilty about it, and you feel like you are a disappointment. And the vicious cycle goes on and on.
Do you see how this is the recipe for disaster?
That’s why all of us need to understand that a good diet is only one that you can keep your entire life. That means this diet has to provide all the right nutrients and some liberty to eat things you like as well.
That’s why I love intermittent fasting so much. You burn way much more calories, you enjoy losing weight because fasting is actually really invigorating for the body, and you get to eat delicious foods as well.
Note: If you want to start on intermittent fasting in the best way possible, try the book Eat Stop Eat. It’s the best of its kind.
You Only Lose Weight When You’re Healthy
Yes, you read it right. You only lose weight when you are healthy.
This happens for three reasons.
Inflammation in the body happens when there are a lot of toxins that come from the food we eat. A modern diet includes a small number of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are the most important source of antioxidants.
When you add the fact that your fad diet is not providing enough nutrients to help your body repair and recover, inflammation levels increase even more inside.
Studies proved that weight gain is linked to the increase of chronic inflammation, but the other way around is also the case. When you have a lot of toxins in your body, fat is used as a protection against those toxins.
So we get overweight because of inflammation, but we also get more inflamed because we gain more weight.
Fat tissues also absorb the toxins in them, so losing weight is the only way to get rid of them.
Simply put, you cannot lose weight if your body has chronic inflammation, and by not losing weight the situation gets even worse.
Healthy foods are the true weapon we have against inflammation, and that’s why only by eating healthy we can get rid of excess fat.
Weight loss starts when hunger is gone
Your body cannot lose weight while you are hungry, or more specifically, when the hunger hormone is released.
Ghrelin is the hunger hormone, and when it gets released in the body, it increases appetite, slows down the metabolism, and slows down the body’s ability to burn fat. As we talked about in this blog, during caloric-reduction diets our body secrets more ghrelin.
And it makes sense if your body thinks you are starving to make you hungrier and to start depositing more fat. Add this to the fact that nutritional deficiencies also makes your body go into starvation mode, we can see why fad diets have the opposite effect.
You are not crazy! I know you noticed too how during fat diets there are times where it appears you gain weight, even with all that low-calorie intake.
That’s why calorie deficiency should be achieved with intermittent fasting and not with daily caloric restriction.
During fasting, your body starts to produce less ghrelin, and it facilitates the fat burning process. Combine this with a healthy diet that gives your body all the nutrients it needs, and you have a successful recipe to lose weight.
It’s a survival mechanism
Your body doesn’t care about how you look, it cares about your survival. During restrictive diets, there are a lot of dangerous things that are happening inside your body, the extra fat is the least of the worries.
Your body will care more about the fact that it doesn’t have enough calories to run so it’s going to slow down the metabolism. The body will also care more about the fact that there are missing nutrients which impair the normal body functions.
In these moments of nutritional deficiency, the hunger is sent to the roof, so you understand how serious it the problem.
When your body doesn’t have to worry about your survival it starts to care about losing the excess weight. That means you can lose weight much better when you are healthy and you have a diet that keeps you fed and happy.
Fad diets are a bad idea and they shouldn’t be practiced. They are harmful to your body and they are not that efficient at keeping the weight lost off.
Being stressed all the time, having a nutritional deficiency and having chronic inflammation are not easy things that you take alongside restrictive diets. They are dangerous side effects that can send you on a downward spiral of a love-hate relationship with food.
Eating healthy and reducing the weekly intake of calories using intermittent fasting is a safe and efficient way to lose weight and have more energy in life. And it feels pleasant too.