Ditch the Diet

We live in a world where we are constantly being exposed to slim models and athletes in the media and are left with a desire to emulate their bodies for ourselves.

The extremely lucrative diet industry, including weight loss programs, products and therapies, makes over $150 billion in America and Europe by preying on this desire to be slim. It feels like we are always being inundated with new diets making overly bold claims of weight loss.

As you may well have encountered, diet plans can be expensive to follow and don’t always result in weight loss and maintenance.

Since most diet plans work off a time scale, the classic pattern is to lose the weight while following the diet but to revert back to your previous weight or often above your starting weight once you finish the diet. Only a tiny percentage (12% in this study) of people manage to keep the weight off after.

Studies have shown the already healthy-weight dieters are more at risk of gaining weight after dieting rather than those in the obese category.

An explanation for this weight gain after a diet is the changes in the balance of appetite hormones (Leptin and Ghrelin) when body fat or muscle is lost.

Leptin is released by fat tissue and, in short, signals to the brain that there is enough fat and slows or represses appetite. When you lose fat, Leptin levels decrease and you feel hungrier.

The stomach makes Ghrelin, the ‘hungry hormone’, when it is empty. Ghrelin signals to the brain that you are hungry and levels do not decrease until you eat something.

To regulate homeostasis of these two hormones you need to keep adequately fed. Dieting messes with the balance of these hormones and often leaves people feeling hungrier, hence the weight gain when you finish your diet and end up eating more because of the hunger. Moreover, calorie restriction and loss of muscle mass cause your body’s metabolism to slow down, making it easier to put the weight back on once you start eating normally again.

The best way to sensibly loose weight and keep it off:

Set realistic goals

If you have an achievable target weight then you won’t constantly be fighting a losing battle so don’t push yourself to a weight that isn’t natural for your body as it will never be sustainable. You can work out the healthy weight range for your height on a BMI calculator, however this wont be accurate if you have a large muscle mass.

Food for life

Instead of restricting the food you eat, eat to optimize your health. Choose nourishing foods that keep you full and always maintain your energy levels. Eating a diet of whole foods including fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, meat, fish, legumes and healthy fats will keep you satisfied and there is so much variety for it to be an enjoyable way of eating. A balanced diet is key to healthy eating and can be kept up for life. Food is good for the soul! (so don’t deprive yourself if you want a treat once in a while.)

Exercise regularly

Research shows that we should have 30 minutes of exercise a day to maintain our weight. Getting to the gym everyday seems pretty unrealistic even for the most determined of us, but walking or cycling to and from work or getting off a tube stop early to walk some of the way are easy and attainable ways of fitting it into your daily routine. It is much healthier to be fit at a stable weight rather than continued losing and gaining weight via dieting.

Luckily the Nutrifix app is heading your way, promising to make healthy living easy! Nutrifix calculates your individual daily intake according to your goal and suggests delicious healthy recipes or meals to buy, near you, tailored to your exact nutritional needs.