More research is coming out to show that dieting in general is harmful to your body (and your mind), and that it most likely isn’t making you healthier in most situations.
However, yo-yo dieting, where you are constantly back and forth between being on and off a diet, can be even worse for you. This is when you either bounce to different types of diets constantly, or you are on a perpetual restrict and binge cycle.
Your body is going through a lot of changes at a rapid pace, which can be far unhealthier than if you had stayed overweight.
- Your hormones fluctuate like crazy – when you diet, especially back and forth between eating and restricting, your hormones are completely out of control.
- You are at the risk – Severe calorie restriction and yo-yo dieting where you have a lot of changes in what you eat over a long period of time can cause your cortisol levels to increase. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and can actually increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes!
- You might have a bigger appetite and more cravings – Yo-Yo dieting also changes your appetite and what you crave. It may seem like you are out of control, but this is not about willpower, it is actually from dieting itself. In your body, you have two different hunger hormones – leptin and ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hormone that increases your appetite, while leptin decreases your appetite, and can help you feel full. If you are dieting, the hormone leptin often decreases, while ghrelin increases, creating an imbalance. Your diet might be the reason why you feel like starving, and not just because you aren’t eating enough.
- Your metabolism slows down – Wonder why when you start a diet, you seem to hit a plateau quickly? This is probably the result of your metabolism slowing down because of all the feast and famine periods your body has gone through. And when you put your body through the ringer from yo-yo diets, you are actually making it harder to lose weight thanks to your metabolism slowing down. You need to stop under-eating, give up the diets, and start to eat intuitively.
- You lose all sense of hunger and fullness cues – When you have pre-determined portions, types of food, how many calories you can have, how many carbs, making sure your sugar is low and protein is high, watching your fibre and meal eating windows, or intermittent fasting, you stop relying on your hunger, but instead on numbers. All of this damages your ability to know when you are hungry or full.
In my experience eating only slightly less than you should, all the time; eating only when you are hungry, and doing physical exercise is much more likely to help you reach a healthy weight than going on low-calorie diets.
3 Simple Steps to help you create a nutrition plan that will work for you and your family.
- Control your portion size: Using hands to measure your portion size is versatile and works well for three reasons. First, hands are portable. They come with you to work lunches, restaurants, social gatherings, etc. Second, hands are scaled to the individual. Bigger people need more food, and tend to have bigger hands, therefore getting larger portions. Smaller people need less food, and tend to have smaller hands, therefore getting smaller portions. Third, it provides reasonable amounts of nutrient dense foods and their specific macronutrients (thus preventing deficiencies). It will help you meet your protein, vegetable, carb, fat, and calorie needs without having to count a gram or weigh a food. You can easily adjust portions based on hunger, fullness, preferences, goals, overall activity level, and most importantly, results. If you need more help in learning how to use portion size, book a coaching session with Dr. Abhishek. He will give you the basic template and teach you to adjust portions at any time.
- Eat until 80% full: Once you have adjusted your portion size the next step will be to only eat until 80% full. This is the important step if your goal is to loose weight and/or gain muscles.
- Eat Slowly: Our body has a built-in “satiety mechanisms” that kicks in about 20 minutes after we started a meal. No matter how much you eat during the first 20 minutes of starting a meal, you wouldn’t feel satisfied or even full until we hit the magical satiety time. So if you ate too much during the first 20 minutes, thinking you’re not full. Then, 20 minutes later, you’ll feel “overfull” and guilty. However, if you only slowed down, your bodies’ natural satiety mechanisms would have kicked in to put on the brakes. (Remember that: You can and will feel full if you just slow down. The body’s natural signals will do the work for you. You don’t have to overthink it.)