Why dieting is the worst thing you can do for weight loss

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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There really is no magic formula for losing weight, but one of the worse things you can do is go a diet. Melissa Majumdar, RD, LDN, CP who counsels patients undergoing weight loss surgery at the Sinai Hospital Bariatrics program, says super low calorie diets will only lead to failure. Instead, think about eating healthy foods rather than super low calories.

Majumdar says don’t even look at diets. Just thinking about dieting is a set-up for failure. The reason is because all diets end. Instead, focus on making one lifestyle change at a time. Eating habits need to be sustainable. Exercise, sleep, water and healthy foods are key elements for getting weight off and keeping it off.

Why low calorie diets don’t work

When the body perceives it’s being ‘starved’ for energy, metabolism slows down. Taking in fewer calories might lead to weight loss for a time, but eventually the hypothalamus that regulates metabolism slows things down. The body starts holding on to fat.

After a while the body starts to use lean muscle tissue for fuel. When the diet ends the body starts storing calories making it harder to lose weight.

Majumdar likens the process to what happens when an animal goes into hibernation.

Start with a good night's sleep for losing weight
The first step for losing weight is to ensure 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night. Without good sleep the body releases cortisol that leads to belly fat and muscle breakdown.

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If you have trouble sleeping, try exercising early in the morning. A study from Appalachian State University showed exercising at 7am can also facilitate sleep. Walking in the morning could help keep blood pressure lower too.

Formula for successful weight loss
Successful weight loss boils down to getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, 150 minutes of exercise weekly, lean protein at each meal and 15 grams of carbohydrate each meal, which is about ½ cup of whole grains or a tennis ball size serving of fruit.

Focus on lean protein like chicken breast, turkey, fish or low-fat dairy at each meal, and don’t skip a meal. More than 4 hours without food also slows the metabolism.

Exercise for weight loss means getting your heart rate up and using your arms and legs. Majumdar says, “Use talking as the barometer – exercise is anything done at an intensity above a talking pace.”

Unless otherwise contraindicated by a medical condition, consume 64 ounces of pure water daily to help control appetite and keep calorie burning cells comfortable.

Majumdar provides the following formula for weight loss: Sleep + Water + Exercise + Protein – (Starches + Saturated Fats) = SUCCESS.

Starving the body of fuel from a super low calorie diet is a set-up for thwarting weight loss. Instead of thinking diet that can lead to failure, think eating healthy foods. Start an exercise program, get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated.

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