Research suggesting that long-term diets do not work is continuing to emerge. So why do so many of us continue to try our luck with them? Embarrassing Bodies Dr Christian explains the science behind their ineffectiveness:
- They impact the metabolic processes
According to Dr Christian, restricting your calorie intake for a long period of time can affect the metabolic system within the body – meaning that the way food is processed and stored will change. For example, extreme diets may result in individuals actually putting on more weight in the future.In actual fact, those who cheat a little throughout their diet tend to fare better, simply because without such severe restrictions the body doesn’t switch over to starvation mode. Whilst cheaters may find their weight loss is very slow or non-existent, generally they tend not to suffer rebound weight gain in the future.
- Lack of will-power
We don’t see diets as an enjoyable act, so few of us will be able to continue to muster up the will power to steer clear of the food that we love but must ‘avoid’. Diets that involve cutting out particular foods or food groups altogether are particularly difficult and are generally not easy to maintain on a long-term basis.
Dr Christian also explains why the common myth that skipping breakfast can help you to lose weight, is unfounded:
“Food affects mood and waking hungry — as one often does when dieting — but not satisfying that hunger will mean the day does not start well. Feeling hungry is not a good feeling and there are few of us that can suppress it and not cave in.” He explains.
Ironically, breakfast is probably the one meal of the day where we can afford to indulge a little more because we are likely to burn off what we have eaten throughout the day. Figures show that one-third of obese individuals skip breakfast, with additional studies suggesting that brekki skippers also have more fluctuations in blood sugar levels and a generally have a higher body mass index.
Instead of jumping from fad diet to fad diet or introducing extreme restrictions, a more effective way to lose weight would be to develop a long-term and maintainable eating and exercise regime.
If you do not feel confident or knowledgeable enough to do this yourself, contacting a nutritionist could be the way forward. A nutritionist will begin by building a detailed picture of your current diet, exercise and lifestyle, and will then use this information to develop a comprehensive nutrition programme that will take into account enjoyment and flexibility so that it can be maintained.
For further information please visit our Weight Management section to find out about how a nutritionist can help with obesity, controlling cravings and gaining weight safely if you are below a healthy weight.
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