Adopting Healthy Habits: Don’t Diet ’til You Try It



Whether you go low-carb or high-carb, studies show you will most likely gain back the weight you lost.


In January, to celebrate the earth’s annual completion of one full revolution around the sun, millions of students nationwide vowed to uncompromisingly adhere to their top New Year’s resolution: to lose weight. Naturally, this led to the rampant web-browsing of the newest fad diets. Over the course of the month, individuals saw the rise and fall of their diet with less than desirable results.

What many young adults fail to realize is that even though fad diets can provide rapid results; when a person reduces their weight by five to ten percent by restricting their diet temporarily, they are more susceptible to gaining it all back.

Most fad diets are not backed by science. They can be harmful in that they exclude many nutrients needed to replenish cells and tissues. These diets include the Baby Food diet, the Dukan diet and various cleanses or detoxes. Even diets with scientific approval such as the Ketogenic diet can also prove to be fruitless. Individuals who adopt the “Keto” diet can lose significant amounts of weight but are still prone to weight gain after they return to their normal eating habits.

The truth is most diets are not sustainable, which is why they are temporary. The holy grail of all diets is maintaining a low-caloric intake. But when an individual engages in this diet, their metabolism is negatively affected. A person’s metabolism is the chemical processes that repair and give energy to their cells and tissues. When a person drastically reduces the calories they take in without incorporating physical activity, they lose weight from both fat and muscle.

Muscles allow people to burn more calories, so when a person returns to their normal diet, their metabolism is stunted because of their decrease in muscle mass. In fact, 95 percent of people gain the weight they lost within one to five years. Many people gain back even more weight than they lost.

These individuals will decelerate their metabolism and burn up to 400 calories fewer calories. This means that in order to maintain that weight, they would have to consume 400 calories fewer than someone who is at that weight without any previous weight loss.

For 200 millennia, the human body evolved in such a way that made us resistant to weight loss through caloric restriction, because historically, a decrease in the calories consumed meant food scarcity. To combat this, human brains created a series of mechanisms that would be evolutionarily advantageous against starvation. One example of this is the secretion of leptin levels in the body. Leptin is a hormone that regulates our hunger. When a person loses weight, leptin reserves in the body decrease which leaves a person in a continued state of hunger.

To subdue our bodies mode of self-preservation which prevents weight loss, individuals need to change our relationship with food. Studies show that one way to combat the regaining of weight after a period of weight loss is to develop mindful eating habits. When one indulges in sugary foods, they are anticipating a sugar rush. This will be a fleeting moment for the eater, leaving them wanting more sugary treats for the extrinsic rewards they bring.

Instead of focusing on extrinsic rewards, research has shown that one should focus on the intrinsic rewards of mindful eating. Some examples are eating only to satiate your hunger, stopping when satiated, paying attention to the results of healthy eating and savoring food. By giving these habits an integral role in your lifestyle, individuals will be able to lose weight, keep weight off and feel healthier.

However, some common medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome and even mental health illnesses can hinder weight reduction. If weight gain is due to these conditions, medical intervention should be sought to mitigate this symptom safely and effectively.

It is important to have a variety of foods to get all the nutrients we need, and restrictive fad diets limit this variety. To effectively lose weight, try to fit physical activities into your schedule, be mindful about your food intake and try to substitute unhealthy snacks with healthier alternatives. In this new year, if you really want to shed a few pounds, make healthy, sustainable lifestyle changes for long-lasting results. Don’t fall prey to the latest fad diets.