Elements of Fitness – A Mother's Memoir

Weight Loss Diets: The Good, The Bad & The Worst

094As most of you all know, (especially if you have followed my blog for the last few years) I have tried pretty much every diet there is.  I’ve done low fat, low carb, paleo, south beach, vegetarian and vegan.  With all the choices out there, it’s easy to see how people have no idea where to begin!   All of those diets have been associated with weight loss, so they must all be good, right?

While low calorie and low fat food choices can be beneficial, starvation diets are next to impossible to maintain over the long term and they also typically lack the valuable vitamins and nutrients we need at every meal.  This is why many people fail after a few weeks (or less) at these diets.

But before we analyze further, if you have a negative connotation AT ALL with the word “diet” – LET IT GO!  Diet does not mean deprivation, nor does it mean ‘die’.  Everyone follows some kind of diet.  Some follow a healthy diet, some follow there cravings to the nearest drive thru!  They’re all considered diets.

There are numerous unhealthy dieting plans and products out there supported only by marketing ads to entice you for noticeable weight loss in a short period of time.  This satisfies our need for instant gratification!  Some of these include: the Atkins diet, South Beach diet, low-carb diet, low-fat diet, Hollywood diet, Grapefruit diet, Liquid diet (using low-calorie, high-protein, high-fiber shakes) and the juice diet.

The majority of weight loss during these diets can be attributed to a loss in water-weight.  Because of this, weight loss during fad dieting is often quickly regained when normal food and liquid intake is resumed.  These plans are usually expensive and can be dangerous for maintaining proper body function.  They also do not emphasize lifestyle changes that will help you maintain your desired weight. Poor dieting can result in the loss of valuable body tissue such as muscle mass in addition to vital minerals, vitamins and nutrients necessary for maintaining our health.

What are those fad diets?

scaleAtkins Diet– The Atkins diet involves limited consumption of carbohydrates to switch the body’s metabolism from metabolizing glucose as energy over to converting stored body fat to energy.   Low carb (ketogenic) diets deplete the healthy glucose stores in your muscles and liver. When you deplete glycogen stores, you also dehydrate, often causing the scale to drop significantly in the first week or two of the diet. This is usually interpreted as fat loss when it’s actually mostly from dehydration and muscle loss. Loss of muscle causes a decrease in your metabolism. More so, since metabolism happens in muscle, less muscle and muscle tone means a slower metabolism, meaning fewer calories burned in any given day.

South Beach Diet– The South Beach Diet is relatively simple in principle. It replaces “bad carbs” and “bad fats” with “good carbs” and “good fats.”  Phase 1 eliminates all sugars, processed carbohydrates, fruits, and some higher-glycemic vegetables as well. Its purpose is to eliminate the hunger cycle and is expected to result in significant weight loss. Phase 2 re-introduces most fruits and vegetables and some whole grains as well. Phase 3 is the maintenance phase and lasts for ‘life’. The high-protein intake from south beach diet can make the kidneys work harder, causing kidney stress and strip the body of calcium. The inconsistency between each ‘phase’ of the diet is unwarranted. Good foods are always good foods, not tools to change your ‘hunger cycle’.

Hollywood Diet / Grapefruit Diet- usually involves eating half a grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice with each meal and significantly reducing caloric intake, often to below 800 calories per day. The diet is based on the claim that grapefruit has a fat-burning enzyme or similar property. The variations of the grapefruit diet that are too low in calories (below 1200 calories a day), carbs or essential micronutrients are considered unhealthy and potentially dangerous.  Highly restrictive diets can cause eating disorders and poor mental health.

Liquid Diet / Juice Diet (using low-calorie, high-protein, high-fiber shakes) – A clear liquid diet consists of transparent liquid foods such as vegetable broth, bouillon, clear fruit juices, clear fruit ices, popsicles, clear gelatin desserts, or clear carbonated drinks. A full or strained liquid diet consists of both clear and opaque liquid foods with a smooth consistency. It includes milk, milkshakes, ice cream, puddings, strained cream soups, fruit nectar with pulp, smooth cooked cereals such as porridge and cream of wheat, butter, and honey.  Mostly, people replace meals with ‘health’ drinks or ‘meal-replacement’ drinks.  This can result in malnutrition, body system shut-down and extremely detrimental and deadly conditions.  We are not robots that run on gasoline.  Our bodies need calories, fat, carb and protein.  Health drinks and products cannot replace natures true fuel.

So what really works? 

math-graphic-for-blog-300x249Well its simple really!  Bring your basic math skills to the table:  your intake needs to be less than your output!  Meaning you need to burn more calories than you are consuming.  Math never fails.

I usually start my female clients off at 1200 calories a day.   Male clients at 1800 calories a day.  It doesn’t sound like much, I know.  But usually, they are just starting working out in combination.  So it depends on their amount of time they can work out, their fitness level, etc.   To drop 1 pound of fat in 1 week (which equates to 3500 calories), you have to aim to to eat about 300 less calories a day while buring 300 calories from exercise 5 times a week.

You must also remember, our bodies are constantly undergoing an internal tug of war to balance our nutritional needs with our daily energy expenditures and body functions.  Weight loss is a science and our bodies are like computers.  You have to program your brain and retrain your brain.  Your brain knows when you’re making huge changes.  It will react.

Maybe not overnight, but consistency is key and your body will respond.  I promise.

Contact me so we can get started today on YOUR weight loss!



July 24, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. […] already given my theory on ‘diets’ and what people should choose based on their lifestyle.  So I’ve decided to compile a few recipes that my kids love (and request often) that are […]

    Pingback by Some of My Favorite Clean Eating Recipes « Elements of Fitness – A Mother's Memoir | September 27, 2013 | Reply

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