“Gosh my head is hurting!” This is what my mom called and told me a few days ago. Using a new diet from a well-known company, my mother is hell-bent on being lean and trim for the summer time. The diet she is using has helped her to drop a few pounds, but what she did not know were the health implications that would come if she did not adjust her approach to nutrition. So what is the problem? Most “diets” that become popular today rely on fads and skimp nutritional information in order to sell a hot new product. What these diets are not intended to do however is make you healthy. If you are thinking of beginning a new diet, or you are doing everything right but you are feeling terrible, learn the top three reasons that your diet may not be working.
- Your Diet is Missing a Macronutrient
Macronutrients are composed of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. In the 1980’s Charles Atkins, the creator of the Atkins diet, made the claim that carbohydrates are the cause of severe weight gain in this country. The ripple effect of that action can be seen today with a milieu of famous diets. Each diet claims that one key macronutrient is the cause of weight gain. If that were the case then you could just drop one macronutrient and be truly healthy right? The truth of the matter is that macros are not the problem. When you severely restrict one type of macronutrient, you lose the benefits of that particular macronutrient. Carbohydrates are your body’s main energy source. So if you are starting to workout to lose weight, why would you stop the body’s main source of energy? A diet with very low carbs can be extremely detrimental and can even lead to death, which was the fate of Charles Atkins himself.
What you should have is a healthy balance of each macronutrient. Below is a breakdown of each macronutrient and what they are used to do.
- Fats- promote healthy hormone function and serve as energy
- Proteins- converted into amino acids when in the body and aid in recovery
- Carbohydrates- primarily used as energy for the body
When there is a healthy balance between each nutrient, you can ensure that your body is adequately supplied with the nutrients it needs to function properly. Once your body is properly fueled, you will actually be able to recover from the work that you put in when you are in the gym. A simple guide for people who want to lose fat is that
- Protein should consist of 40-50% of your calories
- Fats should consist of no more than 25% of your diet
- Carbohydrates should make up the rest
2. Your Diet is Extremely Low Calorie
How many times have you heard “I’m on the new 2 peas and a slice of air diet and I have lost 20 pounds in 20 minutes!” I know this is an exaggeration, but is it really? From average joe diets to the diet practices of physique competitors, extreme low-calorie diets are counterproductive and even dangerous. Let’s explain the diet cycle for a second:
- You are excited to diet
- You get some crazy low-calorie diet claiming to help you lose a ton of weight
- You begin the low-calorie diet
- You feel that you are going to die
- You binge…. HARD
Does this sound familiar? What is actually happening is your body’s response to stay alive. Your body has what is called a resting metabolic rate. This is simply the amount of calories that you burn at rest. When you consume calories well BELOW this number, your body goes straight into survival mode. Thinking that you are dying, your body sends signals that are recognized as cramping, headache, lethargy, and hunger. These impulses are one of the main factors as to why people binge so hard after an extreme diet. The aftermath is not great either with people gaining upwards of 30 pounds in some cases due to the “rebound effect” (Thats another blog entirely lol)
Do yourself a favor and follow these rules for calories. If you are looking to lose weight, take your current body weight and multiply that number x10. So if you are a 200 pound male then your base set of calories will be 2000kcal (calories). Next you will need to multiply your base calories by your activity level (shown below). THIS number, regardless of what the GURU’s say, should be where you start your diet.
3. Your Diet is Really a DETOX
The south beach, lemonade, FIT TEA, etc… all of these “diets” are really detoxes and should be used with extreme caution. These products are extremely profitable and people are sucked in because people do lose weight quickly. I said weight, however I did not say the TYPE of weight. What detoxes are designed to do is expel your body of water and waste that carry toxins. Since most people carry 15-20 pounds of waste in their body at any given time, then it can be proposed that these products do work-but as a detox. If you are using this as a diet then you are on a road to disaster. Prolonged detoxing strips your gut of heathy bacteria needed for digestion. Coupled with the fact that you most likely will return to bad eating habits once those “20 pounds” are off, you will replace your gut with bad bacteria which comes from processed foods. These bad bacteria actually make it HARDER for you to lose weight! Do not be fooled by paid social media models promoting some of these products. Proper nutrition practiced consistently over time is the only proven way to truly see results.
Question: Have you ever been tripped up by these diet blunders? Comment below and let us know!