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  • Writer's pictureNarelle

My least favourite weight loss diet - the ones that make me get on my soapbox!



Yes my soapbox is very well worn when it come to different diets people follow.


I have quite a love/hate relationship with different fad diets. What I like is that you can date a diet with a decade like the candida diets of the 90’s, or the low fat of the 70's and 80’s (and still persisting but more of that in a minute). What I hate is the claim to be the perfect way to lose weight, the panacea for the obesity crisis and that they take nothing of the individual into account.


So here are a few of my least favourite ways to diet….


Very Low Calories Diets (VLCD) are the most popular type of diet and the one most people initially go to. It is low in calories and often carbohydrates (the current trend) and typically involves meal replacements shakes, bars or both. It can also be restricting or limiting your food intake or skipping meals.


This diet can cause more trouble than its worth creating “weight cycling” where you lose weight then regain it (and often more) which leads to another diet, more weight gain and the cycle starts - hence the term "Yo Yo diet". This is because the body need nutrients to survive. And with inadequate nutrition from the food we eat the body has to look to other areas to source this. For example, the body must supply itself with enough protein and if the diet is lacking it will take from its own stores and use reserves in muscles. It does this by breaking the muscle down. In addition, if you are not getting adequate energy from carbohydrates your body will breakdown protein to make glucose for energy. Now admittedly this is not something your body likes doing, but to survive it will do what is needed and given your brain needs the glucose, it will use protein as the supply if there is no other choice. And this becomes problematic.

But why do you slip into this Yo Yo effect?


The Yo Yo effect happens because you after the diet is finished you will increase caloric intake until your old protein level of 100% is reached again. Your body has a protein and fat memory and it will go on a mission to restore the lost protein and fat to make up for the deficit created by restricting the calories. Fat reserves are built up quickly but protein reserves take time. So by the time our protein reserves are full, the fat reserves are over full and bursting at the seams (and our belt buckles). The feeling of hunger will only reduce to a normal level when these protein reserves are full so you eat more food than normal until the old protein levels are reached. Clever huh?


Equally annoying as a diet is the Low Fat diet which was embraced throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and has really continued until today. This was all based on one study (The Framingham Study) published in the early 70’s which concluded that all heart disease was due to elevated blood lipid levels and thus the recommendation of low fat diets and an ideology Governments, Physicians and the food industry picked up as the way forward.

Ironically, these same decades saw western populations getting fatter which also correlated with the sharp increase in the introduction of new food products which were mainly low fat or fat free. But whilst they may have been low fat, they were also highly processed, had low (if any) nutritional value and were high in sugar.


Now the clever thing that fat does is gives us flavour. Plus all flavourings are fat soluble so if you take fat away the you take the flavour with it leaving a food that tastes bland. Remove fat and food becomes like eating cardboard. Then other things like sugar, which are not dependent on fat for flavour, are added and often in high amounts.


Plus another clever thing with fat is it is slower to digest and leaves you feeling full for longer meaning you naturally eat less. It is a natural appetite suppressant.


A quick search of published studies will show this low fat theory has been refuted and there is no correlation between coronary heart disease and the amount of fat in nutrition or the quality of fat in nutrition. I will add that it is dangerous to consume trans fatty acids (found in processed foods like margarine, fried foods, store bought cakes etc). So best keep the good fat in and avoid those processed ones.


No more calories restricted diets and no more low fat products.


I regularly extol the benefits of clean eating - real foods, not processed, not with an ingredient list a mile long with unrecognisable chemical terms. Instead we should be ensuring we get protein, fats and carbohydrates in their best formation and in their most natural way.


A clean simple diet is the foundation of all good health.


If weight loss is the goal then any plan should be personalised, supported and based on real food. I introduced Metabolic Balance into my clinic for this reason - it ticked all the boxes and it works (the average weight loss for my clients in the first two weeks is just over 4kgs). If you are interested in more information then please don’t hesitate to contact me narelle@sagessehealth.com.au


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