Why low-calorie diets don’t work long-term

Let me start this blog by asking you a question. Do you know anyone who has lost weight and was able to keep it off by following a low-calorie diet? Obviously, you can’t give me the answer right now, but I am very confident that the answer is no. Why am I that confident? You will see once we dive into the main content of this blog. But first, let’s think about why the answer to that question is probably a no. Don’t get me wrong, I could get anyone to lose good amounts of weight by restricting their calorie intake a lot (think about 1000- calories a day), but your weight loss progression would soon stop, and after a while gain all of that weight back (we’ll get back to this later on). So what happens if your calorie count is already so low and you stop losing weight? You just keep eating less? Obviously we can’t keep running that same pattern over and over again, until there’s nothing left.

So, how have we accepted this lie for so long without doing anything about it? Because it’s easy to accept, doesn’t mean it’s right. while it’s hard to stand alone from the crowd on something that so many people swear by, look at the numbers and trust facts rather than opinions. When it comes to nutrition, there are very few things we get to have an opinion about, because for most things’ nutrition related, our opinions don’t line up with what the numbers and facts are showing us.

If it’s not the cause, it can’t be the solution.

If calories are not the cause of weight gain, it cannot be the solution to losing weight either. If you’ve read some of my previous blogs on how and why we’re gaining weight, you will know that sugar, insulin production and insulin resistance are the driving forces behind weight gain (you can read more about the cause here and here).

Imagine your water tap is broken and water keeps flowing out which causes your sink to run over. From here you can do a couple of things. You could address the issue of the sink running over by placing a bucket underneath it to catch the water. While you’re addressing one of the issues,you’re not treating the root cause of the water flowing from the tap. Instead, you should probably turn off the water source to keep more water from flowing out the tap. That’s how you treat the cause. Treating anything but the cause is just a temporary fix; you might feel good and see results temporarily but just like the bucket under the sink, eventually that too will flow over. Shut off the root cause and, from there, we can actually make some lasting changes.

In this example sugar is the root cause, dieting is the bucket under the sink and cutting out sugars + making it a lifestyle is what shuts off the cause.

results of sugar and insulin resistance

Temporary changes don’t last

If you’re following let’s say a diet that requires you to eat a 1000 calories per day rather than the 2000 calories you’re used to eating, are you going to see changes? Absolutely. Are those changes going to last? No they’re not. 

If you’re doing anything on a temporary basis, the effects will not last. For example, if you wash your car every day for a month straight and then stop washing it for the next 12 months, does the month of cleaning exempt your car from getting dirty over the next year? Of course it doesn’t. So how can we expect it to work that way when it comes to our nutrition and weight loss? If we eat a 1000 calories per day for a month straight, you will see changes. However, when you go back to eating 2000 calories for the next year, what does your body do with the extra 1000 calories that it’s not used to having anymore? Those extra 1000 calories are not just going to disappear. Your body doesn’t know what to do with it, so it stores it as fat. It doesn’t store it as an energy source, because it’s not used to having that amount of energy anymore. Thus, it will store it as body fat.

The stuff nobody likes to talk about

When was the last time you were hungry and felt good/happy at the same time? I will just go ahead and answer that for myself: not a time that I can remember. Your energy level (which comes from food) has a direct and massive impact on your mood, productivity and creativity (amongst other things).

Okay, so now let’s go back to the fact that your body is used to eating 2000 calories a day and all of a sudden you start eating half of that amount. How is your body going to respond? It’s going to fight back because it’s used to running on more fuel and now, you’re cutting that supply in half! Let’s take it back to another car example, If your car is all the way fueled up, you’re probably not worried about running out any time soon right? Well, what happens if you only fuel it up halfway? Obviously, your car is going to run out a lot sooner than when it’s full. It’s so obvious to see with this scenario, why is it hard to see when we do the same thing to our body? Your power output might be the same as long as it lasts but while your body is running on half the fuel, we can expect that output to die down much sooner than when you’re fueling your body appropriately.

I am all for having our own informed opinions and thoughts, but you can’t argue with facts. Just because a lot of people talk about it doesn’t make it true or the only way of doing something. Try things out for yourself and be honest if it does or doesn’t work.

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Categories: nutrition, weight lossTags: , , , , , , , ,

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