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Why "Fad Diets" don't work

It's a familiar story for so many of us. We want to lose weight and we've heard such amazing things about that new diet that everyone seems to be talking about! Maybe we've seen it featured on the television or in a magazine, or even better maybe we have a friend who's lost a ton of weight on this diet and has been raving about it. Of course we want to give it a try and see if we can have the same success! But how often after initial success at losing weight, the weight loss starts to slow, and eventually we put the weight back on, often ending up even heavier than we were before!

The first thing we need to understand is what we really mean when we say that we want to lose weight. We don't want to lose weight, we want to lose FAT! When we first embark on a new diet, especially a calorie restrictive diet, we will lose a certain amount of fat, but a lot of the weight we lose is also MUSCLE. But why is this a problem and how will it sabotage your weight loss as you continue with this diet?

The second thing we want to understand is our metabolic rate (MBR). Our MBR varies from person to person depending on our height and weight and is the number of calories our body needs in 24 hours while completely at rest, ie. if you were to lay in bed all day. These are the calories needed purely to keep the body functioning, the heart beating, the lungs working, the brain ticking over! In general, the higher our body weight, the higher our metabolic rate is set at, because the body requires more energy to keep itself working. Excess body fat can be detrimental to our health, so of course it's best to reduce it to a healthy amount. But muscle is different, we want to maintain our muscle mass as much as possible, especially as they require a lot of energy, thus increasing our BMR. When we lose muscle, we don't just lose strength, we also reduce our BMR, meaning our body needs less calories to keep it going.

So as our weight reduces, so must our calorie intake if we want to keep on losing weight. Eventually this diet is going to become too restrictive, and with all the will in the world, if you are consuming too few calories you're going to start to feel pretty rubbish and give in to your cravings. And because your BMR has reduced, those extra calories are going to result in weight gain. The weight you gain is going to replace the fat you lost, but not necessarily the muscle! Eventually as you keep gaining fat your overall weight is likely to end up even higher than it was before you started that diet in the first place! The whole process may take 6 months, it could take 12 months, or 18 months or longer, but it's the same old story! You lose weight quickly, the weight loss slows down and then starts to pile back on again.

Sound familiar?

But what if we lose weight at a nice, slow and steady rate? A rate at which we are able to maintain our muscle mass, especially if we introduce a little extra resistance training? This is a much more sustainable approach to weight loss as it means a much higher percentage of the "weight" you are losing is in fact fat! Hooray! Your BMI stays relatively high meaning you don't have to keep further restricting your calorie intake as much as you lose weight, and in general is a much more enjoyable approach to weight loss. It may take longer to reach your ideal size, but once you get there you will be much more likely to stay there!

If this sounds like something you would like to try, I suggest you seek the help of someone with specific knowledge on the subject. A Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach can help you work out just how many calories you should be eating at each stage of your weight loss journey, as well as provide you with a dietary analysis, meal plans and recipes to ensure you still get all of the nutrients your body needs. They can also give you lifestyle advise, help you to make a plan for staying active, reducing stress and sleeping better to further improve your overall health.

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