When it comes to dieting we’ve seen it all. Calorie counting, low fat, Atkins,cabbage soup, dieting clubs, slimming mags, slimming pills. The choice is endless. People in Britain spend £25 million a year on it so what’s the success rate? Only a dismal 5%. Wow! Why do we do it if it doesn’t work? A bit like gambling, we do it because it offers a brief illusion of hope.
What you want when you go on a diet is to start at your current weight, do the diet and lose weight, then stay at your new weight for ever after. More often than not, what actually happens is short-term weight loss followed by a return to your original weight, plus a bit extra. After all the effort and deprivation this hardly seems fair and it can leave people feeling demotivated and miserable.
So what’s going on? Your body responds to restricted food intake by partially shutting down and going into ‘survival mode’. This is a useful mechanism for keeping us alive when food is in short supply but stressful for your body to endure long-term. Your mind may know that there isn’t really a food shortage and there’s a limitless supply in a supermarket just up the road but your body only experiences what arrives in your stomach. Diets often cut out important nutrient groups so some of the weight you lose is good body tissue which has to be cannibalized to meet your needs. When you stop dieting, your body breathes a sigh of relief and starts to repair the damage you’ve done and you start to put weight back on.
So which diet would I recommend? None at all. I think it’s better to improve your eating habits so that you lose weight slowly, naturally and permanently.
Top tip – don’t diet, learn to eat well.