This blog post has been created mainly to answer some common questions I get from new clients.
Hopefully you have read my post on "Progressive dieting". Here I'm going to explore some common diet mistakes and offer a little extra advice.
-One, Restricting calories too much.
"If weight loss is all about energy balance (calories in Vs calories out.) the lower I drop my calories the quicker I will lose weight!" While this is true, this is very limited thinking.
Diets that are too restrictive in calories will decrease energy levels. This leads to a lowing of NEAT (None exercise activity thermogenesis). Leading you to become increasingly tired and irritable.
(See my blog post "Starvation mode" for full explanation of the psychology effects.) This leads to periods of weight loss followed by periods of rapid FAT gain and feelings of hopelessness and depression.
Fat-loss should be our goal not weight-loss. "Yo Yo dieting" has caused the new phenomenon "skinny fat" . The term used to discribe an individual who isn't "overweight" but has a high body fat percentage with a unhealthy defininicy in muscle mass. A condition that is just as big a risk factor in coronary heart disease and metabolic diseases as morbid obesity.
We need to be in a small calorie deficit. Sustainable fat-loss is a long term process.
-Two, Eliminating all our favourite foods.
The primary reason we eat is to fuel and repair our bodys; but eating is also a massive source of pleasure. We need to develop eating habits for physical and mental fulfilment.
Living out of tupper-wear boxes containing carefully weighed dry chicken, rice and broccoli is a effective way of dropping weight fast but is my personal idea of hell. For myself and most people this is not a sustainable way of eating. Our diet needs to include foods we enjoy consuming while adding healthy alternatives as our pallet adjusts.
-THREE, Eating Irresistible foods too often.
While we need to incorprate foods we love, we all have specific foods that we find irresistible. These are the foods that we can't stop eating once we start. This is personal for everyone and is normally not just a type of food but can be a particular brand.
For me I need to limit papa john's pizza and large tubs of haagen dazs as i find it impossible to eat a healthy portion.
I keep these foods for very special occasions and enjoy them infinitely more.
-Four, Portion sizes and calorie tracking
Portion sizes are one of the biggest mistakes I see people make in their diets. I strongly encourage you to start weighing your food and tracking foods with a good calorie tracking app (myfitnesspal?). Once you are familiar with the app, this takes seconds and does not mean you will spend the rest of your life obsessing over food portions. We only need to do this long enough so that we learn how to estimate colorific values and suitable portion sizes.
Often "Diet" food manufacturers will use very small portion sizes to mislead consumers.
Who has ever eaten 30gs of a breakfast cereal?
-Five, Week day dieting
A very common problem. Under eating all week then overeating or drinking on the weekend. If our diet isn't adequate over the week it can lead to an increase in our hunger hormones (Ghrelin). High levels of this hormones can make it very difficult to control our appetite.
A more balanced approach, Eating in a smaller calorie deficit throughout the week, while adding low calorie, bulky foods to our diet will really help.
-Six, Food picking/stealing
While preparing food for others we can become blind to the picking we do. We may be consuming a surprising amount of hidden calories by "tasting" food while preparing food for others or by sharing sweets and treats with our loved ones.
I find tracking all food as I eat them really makes me aware of just how much I was stealing between meals.
-Seven, Cheat meals.
I'm really not a fan of cheat meals tbh. I feel they can encourage a unhealthy attitude towards food. I have seen many people undo a full weeks worth of dieting in a single afternoon.
Some people have great results incorporating a cheat meal once a week and find it gives them a break from dieting. They are able to control the amount of food eaten and will often stay very close to their calorie allowance.
I prefer to eat what i want, however like to make good choices. Over time i've found "Cheat" types of foods i can incorporate into my diet whenever I want. With the use of a calorie counting app I have learned what take away food is worth the calories spent and what's not.
-Eight, Eliminating food groups or macro nutrients.
This one is going to be a little controversial. I'm not trying to upset anyone i am simply offering my view as objectively as i possibly can.
Nutritional sciences are developing all the time. With all science some studies are limited and often misleading and some just damn right biased.
The information I offer is the universally accepted advice offered by most nutritionists.
Humans are Omnivores to truly flourish we need to eat from a wide variety of sources. Unless we have a medical condition or allergy we should be consuming a plant based diet with animal products. abstaining from carbohydrates or fats will lead to long term negitive health effects.
-Carbs are the prefered source of energy for our central nervous system. -Protein is made of amino acids, the building blocks of all life. Needed for regeneration and repair of cells. recommended amount while dieting 1g per 1lb of bodyweight. -Good Fats are essential for health. -Fruit is a great source of fiber that slows the absorption of the fructose. It's also loaded with vitamins and minerals. Vegetables are absoulty essential for good health. High in fiber and vitamins and minerals.
-Dairy foods are nutrient rich. A great source of calcium and vitamin D. -Whole grains are a great source of fiber, B vitamins and antioxidants. -Ice-cream is good for the soul.
-Nine, Detox diets and supplements
Kick starting a diet with a detox. Diets and supplements claiming to detox our body's or even change the ph balance of our blood. People selling or endorsing these products are, at best naive. These are deeply unpleasant and potentially dangerous.
Facts are these products either cause a diuretic effect (Increase the excretion of water.) or laxative effect (draws water into the colon and causing diarrhea.)
Our liver and kidneys cleanse our body, if they are not you need to see a doctor immediately.
These products do not help fat burning or improve health.
-Ten, Meal replacement shakes.
At first these sort of products look like a great idea. Portable, easy to make, easy to consume and controlled serving size.
This type of diet is not sustainable. These shakes do little for satiation. Almost always leads to a period of over compensation (binge eating?) after completion and leads to Yo Yo weight loss then fat gain. I don't even want to mention the insoluble fiber content.
Waste of time and money, a balanced diet of whole foods is a more sustainable and satisfying.