Lifestyle: Is Dieting Really Worth All The Effort?

Dieting has been a human preoccupation for time and eternity. Evidence of various diets can be traced back hundred of years but perhaps the modern day obesity epidemic is responsible for the huge range of diet fads that are apparent in today’s world.

It is easy to lose track of the hundreds of options out there – ‘can’t eat meat on a Monday diet’, ‘candy floss diet’, ‘jump through a hoop of fire diet’, ‘don’t eat anything at all diet’..….whatever the name (Paleo, Vegan, Atkins etc)…..the bottom line is that each diet provides a set of guidelines (AKA ‘restrictions’!) that when followed, miracles will happen and weight will be lost. Da da, simple. Or is it?

With over 3.3 billion people in the world considered overweight, an effective weight loss solution has never been more important. Health related illnesses are on the increase rendering health services and institutions unable to cope with the fall out.

Oh, The Pressure…

With the heavy social media pressure to look a certain way, the desire for quick fix weight loss solutions is leading to a range of drastic dietary measures. Some make total sense such as using nutritional health supplements to stop the gap between our daily vitamin requirements versus our actual daily diet (which is usually seriously lacking in what we need to make us strong and healthy).

Many people turn to natural health supplements, which could be a good option if quality products are chosen. Doing your own homework here is vital, which can be done by reading relevant reviews  on supplements or diets, giving you a realistic idea if something is worth taking or not. A lot of people find comfort with taking supplements which speed the metabolism up – such as green tea, which is ideal is you do it as natural as possible. Or, you could try to consume 3-4 cups of actual green tea, to really work the metabolism and it actually can help improve your skin too!

It’s best to just be clued up as much as you can be about what happens to the fat and sugars you consume, and the recommended daily amounts of carbs you need for energy, in order to maintain healthy eating. Sure, some diet plans might help to drop the pounds quicker than you could do when doing it yourself, but you really have to question if they are following a healthy plan. I’ve heard lots of people saying that Slimming World doesn’t work long term, because it’s unrealistic to continue. I’ve never tried it, but could be another one worth researching.

The range of diet tools is endless….there are diet apps, books, online plans, supermarket ranges and home delivery services, all with grandiose promises of guaranteed weight loss. In an industry worth more than £1.9 billion in 2017, it is beyond confusing to say the least!

But perhaps the million dollar question is, do they work?

What Does The Research Tell Us About Dieting?

Despite the popularity of the countless eating plans on the market, in 2007, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles concluded dieting actually makes you gain weight. People on diets typically lost between 5-10% of their starting weight in the first six months – however,  up to two thirds regained more weight than they had lost within five years. Keeping the fat off is perhaps the most challenging aspect of dieting.

Further research, utilising sets of twins, found that independent of genetic factors, dieting itself may well induce a small subsequent weight gain. Especially when done alone, and not paired with regular exercise. This is mainly where some people go wrong: you can’t successfully lose weight without doing a bit of exercise. Not only does it speed up fat loss and help to shift any excess, it also tones up the fat that starts to melt off. Learning to love a little bit of exercise will never go a miss…

Getting to The Crux Of The Issue!

There are many issues to consider when dieting. These include:

★    Different Body Types

Diets work differently for each and every one of us. What works great for you, may be a total disaster for your neighbour. Research suggests that personalised, individually tailored diets are the most effective for not only losing weight but also for managing to keep it off.

★    Our Genes

Genetics play a huge part in how we look. Some of us just will never be willowy or stick thin no matter how much food we cut out of our diet. Be realistic and also be body proud. It would be downright weird if we all looked the same so the key is, do your best for you and accept those things that you cannot change.

★    Exercise

Exercise is key to increasing our metabolism and for shedding pounds. Try to exercise daily if possible and your schedule allows. If not, a minimum of three times a week should get you good results.

★    Motivation

Whatever you do in life, motivation plays a significant role in helping you achieve your goals or desires. Being passionate about something is key to succeeding. So it you are motivated to lose weight, the tools you use don’t really matter. If you want something badly enough, you will find a way. Dig deep and find your motivation.

What Is The Answer?

In short, healthy lifestyle changes and adopting a balanced diet, tailored to your own specific needs and body type are what will make the difference. Throwing in a moderate helping of motivation and exercise can only speed up the process.

The science of losing weight is more complicated than just eating pink grapefruits all day long or cutting out carbs. As science continues to point toward personalisation as the key, tailoring our dietary consumption seems to be the most effective way of shedding pounds and perhaps more importantly, keeping them off. Money well spent would include several visits to a nutritional health specialist who could offer sound advice, based on actual science and years of experience, to help better understand what constitutes as a good daily diet for you.

The Bottom Line When it Comes To Dieting

There really are no shortcuts when it comes to losing weight. The evidence would suggest dieting may not only be unhelpful, but it could actually be counter productive. Even though some diets can provide quick short-term weight loss results, keeping the weight off remains the optimal challenge.

Simple healthy eating is the most cost effective way to ‘diet’, with better results for long-term health weight management. Forget the diets, in simple terms, just make it your goal to live healthy. Work out, be active, be conscious about the fats and sugars you consume, but don’t deprive yourself from anything either.

Make small switches – here’s a few of my own personal tips I find keep me in shape without overly trying too hard:

  • Swap your daily fatty latte for green tea
  • Join weight loss groups and slimming clubs, at least just for the motivation and sharing recipe tips
  • Go for low fat versions of those sinful treats like mayonnaise and cream cheese
  • Keep an eye on sugar content (try to consume cereal that has less than 5g of sugar a portion. Natural oats are ideal!)
  • Focus on getting 5 portions of fruit or veg a day, and you’ll notice you’ll slowly be cutting back on the fried chips and starchy carbs
  • Aim to get 20 minutes exercise a day. Don’t make hard-to-achieve goals, like take up marathon training or weight-lifting if you really have no interest in it!
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