Most North Americans associate a slender physique with health, leading to the belief that weight loss is the optimal way to resolve health issues or avoid disease. Unfortunately, the diet and weight loss industry has done an exceptional job of fueling this narrative, with failure rates approximating 95 percent.
This narrative is so prevalent that it has seeped into the medical system. Many experiencing metabolic health concerns like diabetes or heart disease will be told by their doctors to lose weight. Unfortunately, they’re often not explicitly directed on how to do this healthily, but simply to lose weight. This leaves a lot of room for the diet industry to work its magic and profit from well-meaning consumers.
However, what is often overlooked is that losing weight will not necessarily eradicate health concerns. I’ve had many clients come to me a few years after losing weight, and they are in a worse place than when they started. That’s because weight loss can be achieved by eating food devoid of nutrients and full of synthetic substances—ultimately doing the stark opposite of what weight loss promised, leading to a deterioration of health in the long run.
This article will discuss the five reasons to avoid dieting and how it can negatively impact your health, even if you don’t succumb to diet shakes full of food-like substances or artificial sweeteners that have toxic side effects.
1. Focusing Strictly on Weight Loss Can Lead to Suboptimal Nutritional Choices
Although weight loss is touted as the optimal solution for resolving our health concerns, the methods supported by the weight loss industry are anything but healthy. Many of the foods sold as ‘diet’ foods that people end up choosing are the opposite of healthy foods. That’s because they are as far from nature as you can get.
For instance, most diabetics or those trying to avoid sugar will begin to replace their sugar with synthetic sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose. Most diet foods and drinks are sweetened with these chemical sweeteners. People consuming these products may choose these foods because they are low calories, which may contribute to weight loss in the short term. However, they are not without side effects in the long term.
For instance, artificial sweeteners have been associated with higher cancer risks in laboratory testing and observational studies. They have also been associated with a higher risk of insulin resistance and deterioration of gut health due to their impact on the microbiome.
So although ‘diet’ foods will help reduce weight in the short-term, they’re not designed to support a healthy body, free of disease. Quite the opposite, rather.
2. Focusing on Reducing Calories Will Lead to a Depletion of Micronutrients
Most of us know that our body needs macronutrients like protein, fat, and carbohydrates to produce energy and cells such as muscle, blood, and connective tissue. However, most are not aware of just how vital micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are to our health.
The human body cannot function optimally, produce energy, digest, sleep, and produce hormones and enzymes without the appropriate intake of vitamins and minerals, including essential electrolytes such as magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium.
By focusing on calorie reduction and macronutrients with no regard for micronutrients, many people placed on diets will begin to experience severe cravings for certain foods that they have cut out of their diets. These cravings have a psychological factor which we’ll discuss shortly. However, they also have physiological factors.
When your body lacks a nutrient, let’s say potassium – an essential electrolyte, it will continue to crave food until you give it what it needs. Our bodies are wise in that sense. For instance, before their cycle, most women will crave chocolate. Cacao (not processed milk chocolate) is rich in magnesium, and magnesium-rich foods are needed in a woman’s luteal cycle phase. This craving is the body’s natural mechanism for providing a woman with what her body needs in a particular phase of her cycle. And her craving is an indication that she needs more magnesium in her diet and may be experiencing a deficiency.
All calories are not created equal, and choosing the right micronutrient-rich food will lead to a healthy weight and a healthy body in the long term.
3. Reducing Caloric Intake Will Lead to a Slowing Metabolism
Many people trying to lose weight will often go to extreme measures to do so. Think of the 1200 calorie diet that many women resort to or alternate-day fasting, which has now become popular whereby approximately 800 calories are consumed in a given day.
Well, what most don’t recognize is that cutting calories may lead to weight loss in the short term but will lower the dieter’s metabolic rate in the long term. It’s like when we don’t provide our body with sufficient energy through food intake; the body slows down to slow the burning of energy. This is the body’s protective mechanism to prevent the person from dying of starvation. As a result, the person burns fewer calories than before. Kind of like when your car is low on gas, you may take your foot off the gas pedal in hopes of extending the gas in your tank.
If this is done continuously or for someone who goes on and off diets, it will become harder and harder for them to lose weight as the body adapts to this cycle—leading them to resort to more damaging weight loss methods.
4. Nutrient and Caloric Deficiencies Place the Body Under Physical Stress
We all know that stress wreaks havoc on our bodies. After all, it’s a very well-researched topic. However, many of us don’t recognize that taxing our bodies with insufficient food or missing micronutrients places the body under physical stress, which will lead to long-term health issues.
When we deprive our body of the food it needs, our bodies respond by chronically secreting cortisol. When this happens, our body uses up stores of B-vitamins, magnesium, and potassium to cope with the stressor. These deficiencies, along with elevated cortisol levels, can eventually lead to insulin resistance and weight gain in the abdominal section. As a result, inflammation rises, and illnesses can set in.
So the diet that was expected to improve health creates havoc and can open the door to future health issues.
5. Dieting Creates Psychological Stress
Diets simply cannot be maintained long-term without some psychological implications. For example, focusing on reducing caloric intake or avoiding certain food groups can lead to disordered eating and increase feelings of anxiety and depression.
Individuals can develop a feast and famine mentality by focusing on weight loss, adhering to cycles of deprivation followed by cycles of overeating. Often when overeating occurs, feelings of guilt set in and likely follow with more eating. Often severe cravings are experienced for foods that are eliminated from the person’s diet leading to a binge reaction when willpower ultimately wanes.
When people become fixated on their physical appearance and adhering to a particular number on the scale, they often become fixated on a specific goal. This leads to psychological stress and an unhealthy relationship with food.
If we want to become healthier, shed weight, and feel comfortable in our bodies from the inside out, it is critical to shift our focus from weight loss to health.
Your health & weight loss transformation begins with shifting your mindset around food, your body, and your lifestyle and rewiring habits interfering with your goals. When you address these two, you begin to make healthy choices naturally and consistently without feeling deprived or tapping into your willpower.
Suppose you only address these two and don’t manage your metabolism by correcting nutritional and hormonal imbalances. In that case, you continue to experience low energy, feel uncomfortable in your body, and feel confused about making proper dietary and lifestyle choices.
When you rewire bad habits and boost your metabolism, you begin to regain your energy and begin to feel comfortable inside and out. In addition, you experience an awareness of what food makes you feel confident and help your body thrive.
If you address both of these but overlook shifting your mindset, it becomes difficult to shed weight without tapping into a lot of willpower. You feel deprived and revert to your old patterns.
When you focus on boosting your metabolism and shifting your mindset around food, body, and lifestyle, you begin to shed weight without focusing on it. Healthy eating and living become second nature.
If you’re experiencing any of the problems I just mentioned, I guarantee you are missing one of those pillars. You get this beautiful effect when you have all of the three pillars combined. You will lose weight and keep it off without hyper-focusing on it. As a result, you begin to feel energetic and confident and will not have to give up everything you enjoy. But you have to have these three pillars working together. Otherwise, it doesn’t work, which is probably why you feel frustrated that the weight refuses to stay off no matter what you try, and your energy and health continue to decline.
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