Guest Post: Cutting the Fat: Does Restrictive Dieting Work

There are countless restrictive diets on the market and more are being created each and every day. These diets claim to drop pounds in a short space of time so that people can shed any excess fat without having to follow an exercise regimen.

What is a Restrictive Diet?

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Restrictive diets are defined as diets with a calorie restriction, which can be achieved through following a strict diet plan or cutting out an entire food group. Diets, like people, come in all shapes and sizes. Crash diets cause rapid weight-loss over a few weeks but the daily calorie intake is dangerously low and unsustainable.

There are other diets which are not as restrictive as a crash diet and take a few weeks to show significant weight-loss which include intermittent fasting; the alkaline diet; raw food diet; and the Atkins diet.

The most popular diets on the market appear to be the ones which avoid a certain food group altogether. Low-fat diets, for example, were created with the intention to lower the risk of heart disease and obesity by cutting fat out of the diet. However, as the fat content of products decreased, the sugar level increased. This resulted in many unhappy dieters and lead to the realization that eating fat does not make you fat.

People have gravitated towards the acceptance of fat in more recent years, which left carbohydrates on the chopping block. This is where the high-fat and low carbohydrate diets, such as the LCHF; Banting; and ketogenic diets which encourage the consumption of full-fat products and the avoidance of carbohydrates, came to fruition.   This style of dieting is based on the idea that the body will not use its energy stores, or fat, for energy if carbohydrates are available because carbohydrates are the body’s first energy resource.

There are numerous other diets which require the dieter to follow a specific meal plan which has a very low calorie content of around 800 – 1000 calories per day. The idea is to give the body less energy than it requires in hopes that it will use its stored energy to keep functioning at on optimal level.

All of these diets appear to make perfect sense on paper – but, if they worked, why are new diets constantly being developed? And why is it that 95% of all dieters regain the weight in just one year after the diet?

How Do Diets Help with Weight-loss?

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There may be hundreds of different diets which claim to be the ‘miracle cure’ but every diet is based on the same theory: a calorie deficit will lead to weight-loss.

The food we eat is made up of macronutrients (carbohydrates; proteins; and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) which make-up the total number of calories we consume. We create a dramatic calorie deficit when we cut an entire macronutrient out of our diet or stick to a strict calorie-restrictive diet.

A calorie deficit occurs when a person eats fewer calories than they burn off in a day. It is a fact that the body has to be in a calorie deficit in order to lose weight, however, the deficits created by diets are so drastic that they end up causing more harm to the body.

The Dangers of Restrictive Diets:

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Many people gain the weight back after a diet, which is an indication that diets are not a successful long term weight-loss solution. But if diets create a calories deficit, then why don’t restrictive diets work?

1.) A severe calorie deficit slows down weight-loss:

The body is an incredible machine which has the ability to adapt in order to survive. When the body receives fewer calories than it needs to function, it burns fewer calories in order to save energy and this slows down the metabolism. The body stores energy as fat when the metabolism slows down because it needs to ‘save’ as much energy as possible in order to perform essential bodily functions.

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The body also stops using energy to perform non-essential bodily functions. There are a number of women whose menstrual cycle ceases because the body does not want to ‘waste’ its energy on non-essential functions. This is evidence that the body conserves its energy when in a severe calorie deficit and burns fewer calories to compensate for the deficit.

2.) A severe calorie deficit results in exhaustion:

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A severe calorie deficit means that the body does not have enough energy to perform all of its basic functions, let alone have the person feeling as though they are focused, awake, and alert.

A calorie deficit leaves the dieter feeling exhausted, brain-fogged, and struggling to complete daily tasks without a challenge. Being unfocused and constantly tired can cause dips in work performance and negligence in the household. Diets are not fun. The dieter will end up being aggressive, grumpy, tired, and unpredictable due to low energy levels.

3.) A severe calorie deficit is difficult to maintain:

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Diets come with a long list of foods which you’re not allowed to eat, under any circumstances. It is basic human psychology which causes people to instantly crave the things that they are not allowed to have. This results in a vicious cycle of dieting, binging, and then feeling guilty for not having the willpower to stick with the diet. This cycle results in yo-yo dieting and a constant increase in weight.

There’s absolutely no pleasure in the process which adds to the frustration of dieting, and a higher chance of failure.

4.) Diets are a ‘one-size fits all’ concept:

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The number of calories set by diets are set in stone. The problem with this concept is that everyone is different which means that one person may burn more calories than the next person in an average day. Even if the calorie deficit created by a diet is safe for one person, that does not mean it will be safe for the next.

5.) Cutting a Food Group Can Lead to Deficiency:

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A restrictive diet which encourages the exclusion of an essential food group will result in a deficiency which can lead to serious disease. There are numerous people who have dietary restrictions due to medical reasons who need to use supplements in order to ensure their body gets all of the nutrients it needs. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the body does not become deficient in any macronutrients or micronutrients so that people can be the healthiest versions of themselves.

Diets may be effective in the beginning, however, the body will adapt quickly and stagnate the weight-loss process. Diets are not sustainable in the long-term due to the negative effects of a severe calorie deficit and, when the dieter resumes their regular eating plan again, the body will hold onto any energy it can which results in the dieter gaining the weight back (and more).

How to Lose Weight:

Restrictive diets have never proved successful for long-term weight-loss. The only way to lose weight is through a healthy diet and exercise.

The healthy diet must be inclusive of all major food groups and should be around 100 – 300 calories below the amount of calories required for everyday activities. For example: if my body requires 2200 calories to perform in a day, I should eat between 1900 – 2100 calories a day. This is a far slower weight-loss solution but it is a permanent one which ensures you can eat all of your favourite foods – just in moderation. This style of dieting also ensures the body does not turn to muscle-stores for energy.

It is important to eat nutrient-dense foods, proteins, fats, and wholegrain carbohydrates in order to fuel the body and keep you feeling full for longer.

This eating plan should be accompanied by an exercise regimen which includes at least 3 days of activity a week.

Remember: everyone is unique and it will take some time to figure out your daily calorie requirements, which you can adjust to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain a weight.

You’re Eating Right and Exercising and Still Not Losing Weight?

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If you are doing all that you can in order to lose weight, but the weight is sticking around, your hormones could be to blame.

It is important to ensure that the hormones are at a stable level when embarking on a weight-loss regimen. Maintaining stable hormones can be assisted through the use of testosterone boosters. Low testosterone levels can lead to exhaustion; poor sleep; loss of libido; and weight gain.

There are also ways in which one can raise their testosterone levels through natural means by improving their diet.

About the Author: 

Catherine Grant is an Editor-in-Chief of America’s best bodybuilding supplements website – TopTestosteroneBoosters.org . She is a health and fitness enthusiast. She wrote health and fitness related articles for numerous reputable sites like Huffpost, EvanCarmichael, MasterHerald, Get-a-Wingman, Lifehack etc… She is passionate about helping others reach their health goals through sharing her own personal experiences.

 

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