From the Keto Diet to Paleo, Intermittent Fasting and the Five-Two diet, it seems every year there is a new diet thrown in our face promising to make us the ‘healthiest’, skinniest version of ourselves.
Tara Kaff is an Accredited Nutritionist and Amazonia Head Dietitian in Sydney. She says, with so much nutrition information at our fingertips these days, it’s more important than ever to ensure your information comes from a credible source.
It seems, every influencer and their dog are preaching a new and exciting way to eat or creating meal plans promising fat loss. However, Tara says, “these people are not giving individualised advice, which can lead to some pretty risky medical ramifications.
“Something I see a lot is that lots of people give out diet plans that will cause that person to severely under-eat which essentially facilitates that yoyo-dieting effect. They will get a plan that is very low in calories, so they will see results in the short term, but in the long term they will most likely put all that weight back on”, she says.
Yoyo dieting is also referred to as ‘weight cycling’ and occurs when individuals fall into the pattern of dieting, losing weight, and then regaining it once the diet is over, only to then go on another diet to lose the weight they regained.
Essentially it is a process that causes one’s weight to go up and down – like a yoyo. According to several studies, this is extremely common, with over 30% of women falling into the trap.
“In the case of a six or eight week challenge, people get given this really low calorie diet, so they lose 5kg, but then they go back to their regular pre-challenge diet, and they don’t factor in that their metabolisms have adapted to that low calorie diet”, says Tara.
In some cases, Tara says this can be rectified by reverse dieting. Reverse dieting is the process of gradually increasing your calorie intake to boost your metabolism after a diet. For this reason, some call it the diet after the diet.
Tara says, when it comes to finishing a weight loss diet plan, “most people who have dropped their calories really low, will go straight back to what they were eating before, which is usually an extra 500-1000 calories.”
However, Tara says that with the reverse diet approach, “once you get down to your preferred bodyweight, you slowly (and over a long period of time) increase your calories by between 50-100 calories per week or fortnight, then your body will slowly adapt to the increased calories and will be less likely to put that weight back on.
“So many people are undereating these days, and that number is just increasing.”
With so many diets being pushed to consumers, many people go from diet-to-diet and are constantly restricting their calorie intake to the point where many women find it difficult to eat the recommended daily intake of 2,000 calories per day (give or take).
Tara says, “The reason these people can only eat 1,600 calories a day (for example) is because their body has adapted to them eating that much. So, when they increase their food intake from 1,500 to the 2,000 calories they should be eating, that 500 calorie increase is going to lead to weight gain.
“No-one should be eating 1,500 calories as their maintenance because that is pretty much what we should be eating if we were couch potatoes” she says.
Tara says, her best piece of nutritional advice is to come back to basics and eat in a balanced and maintainable way. She believes food and nutrition has been over-complicated, and it’s important to understand that food is there to be enjoyed in moderation rather than be restricted.
In essence, don’t spend 95% of your life trying to weigh 5% less.
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