There is a lot of different and conflicting information on the web when it comes to dieting. Almost everyone has a brother, mother, aunt, or friend-of-a-friend who tried a miracle diet, and it “helped them lose 50 lbs”! While most of the diets we hear about sound sensational, how do you know if it will work for you? How do you know if it’s even safe? We’ve done some research on the subject, and we’re here to share with you what we’ve learned!
- What worked for your brother, mother, aunt, or friend-of-a-friend might not work for you.
And that’s okay! The more that studies are being conducted on weight-loss and dieting, the more scientists are finding that different bodies respond to diets differently. Weight loss and the process of losing weight is very individualistic. Depending on your genes and cellular make-up, your body may respond better to one diet over another. What worked wonders for someone else might result in you ending up the same weight or even gaining weight. It’s okay to have trial and error periods where you figure out what works best for you and your body.
- Be realistic about cutting calories.
You are far more likely to succeed if you reduce your calories slowly and consistently. The best way to cut calories is to track what you eat for a week and find your average daily caloric intake. Then, reduce your caloric intake (what you eat) every day by 10-15%. For example, if you eat 2,000 calories a day on average, reduce your calories by 200-300. If you eat 1700 calories, reduce your daily intake by 170-250. Your weight loss results will be slow and steady with this method, but you won’t run the risk of starving yourself and rebounding/binging when your body needs more nutrients.
- Be wary of any diet that makes outrageous claims or that cuts out whole food groups.
This is a common problem with fad diets. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Weight loss is hard. Anything that claims otherwise is most likely just trying to sell you something, so do your research and try not to get caught up in popularity aspect of a diet. As we covered in number one, it might not work for you anyway. In that same vein, any diet that cuts out whole food groups entirely is usually not best for your body. You’d be better off learning about portion sizes, healthier foods, and balancing your meals than removing a food group entirely. Now, if you have allergies or are recommended to remove a food group by a doctor or a nutritionist, follow their advice.
- Focus on healthy changes rather than weight loss.
A lot of us confuse weight loss with happiness, and that’s not okay. You are not the number on the scale, and all your problems won’t be magically fixed by losing weight-especially if you go about it in an unhealthy way. Focus on making healthy changes in your daily life rather than losing weight, because a low BMI and health aren’t always correlated. In fact, more studies are showing that obese people who exercise, don’t smoke, and maintain a healthy diet, are no more likely to die prematurely than normal-weight individuals who do the same. (https://for.tn/2yBhlWX)
If you are going to focus on weight loss, try to make your goals realistic. For most people, only losing one to two pounds a week is ideal for actually maintaining that weight loss in the long run. When trying to lose weight, half of your weight loss should come from reducing your caloric intake and half should come from an increase in exercise time (calories burned). Keep in mind that on average one pound of weight loss requires a reduction of 3,500 calories. That should take some time to burn off healthily.
- Too much stress can defeat your dieting progress.
Do you know what’s stressful? Dieting and beating yourself up over not losing the weight you wanted to. Scientists have found that stress impacts your weight in huge ways. When you get stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol causes your blood sugar to drop and in turn makes your body crave “comfort foods” that are typically high in sugar and fat. Take time to take care of yourself and your mental health, and your physical health will follow suit.
- Love yourself and enjoy the process.
Losing weight can take a long time, and you probably don’t need to lose as much weight as you think you do. Studies show that losing only 10% of your weight can have drastic positive impacts on your health, like lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Making healthy changes in your life is an important step in the right direction. We are often our own worst critics, but we don’t have to stay that way! Cut yourself some slack, go for a walk, and find yummy ways to cook vegetables. Your body will thank you, and the rest will work itself out.