Trying to Lose all that Pandemic Weight All At Once? Fad Diets Won’t Help
A lot of people have gained a lot of weight due to inactivity, digital working from home, and comfort eating during the last year and a half of the pandemic.
And now a big percentage of them are trying to lose that weight by hook or by crook. Mostly by crook. This is where I want to put out a red alert on the World Anti-Obesity Day.
Please understand that if you gained say 10 kgs over 20 months or so, then trying to knock it off in 2 months is simply not possible, and in fact is a foolhardy proposition.
Please go about the weight loss in a balanced, scientific, steadfast up manner, as ending up sicker, with lowered immunity, and probably no weight loss is not something you want. Right!
A fad diet during this time is the worst mistake you can make.Trust me following fad diets has never given anyone ‘lasting’ weight loss, and never will.
So stop falling prey to these dramatic and drastic quick fixes - even if a celeb you worship is endorsing it.
These are designed to feed the get-me-thin-quick mindset that sadly is still rampant, in spite of the well meaning attempts by experts to educate otherwise.
So What Is the Best Way To Lose Weight?
It’s actually simple: eat less and get more active. Think of it as an equation: eating fewer calories + increased activity = weight loss. And successful weight loss means you manage to keep it off too.
In my practice, I don’t put a person on a diet, instead I work with them to identify and then drop the wrong habits, and help them form new healthier habits - one habit at a time.
That’s because I believe that any weight loss plan is only going to be successful when it is effortless, and becomes a part of you - and is almost automated.
It has to be a plan you are convinced about, and one that works out practically for ‘your’ situation, requirements and circumstances.
On the other hand a diet plan that you can’t follow seamlessly is as good as kaput from the word go.
And this actually describes all the hot fad diets that people are succumbing to at the cost of their health these days.
Why Don’t They Work?
Fad diets do not and cannot work for the simple reason that all of them restrict certain food groups and deliver weight loss (seemingly) by depriving the body of adequate calories and nutrition for a short period of time.
Don’t fall for this because the truth is that fad diets are notorious for actually causing weight gain (instead of loss).
When the body feels deprived and the banned foods are reintroduced, our bodies regain more weight than they had lost, as if in fear of another starvation or restriction.
Finally, your weight is not more important that who you are. Respect your health first. The best diet for weight loss need not have a fancy name, or a celeb endorsement - it should primarily be an approach that works for ‘you’.
Do This Instead
Follow these basic rules to stay safe (and not get conned):
Don’t go on a diet. People’ just throw the word dieting out of the window, the highest one you can find, and see it break into smithereens. Instead identify and then drop the wrong habits one by one, and form new healthier habits - again one habit at a time.
Avoid any diet that promises quick, dramatic or miraculous weight loss as in this case weight lost will come back just as fast, maybe faster.Price of a ‘quick fix’ is often very steep.
Stay away from food and nutrition information or advice that promotes ‘certain’ foods and bans others. We need all important food groups - carbohydrates, protein, fat, fibre and vitamins and minerals - in varying proportions. So any diet advice that removes any one completely is not to be trusted.
Simply put a blanket ban on any ‘miracle’ pills, potions or weight loss supplements, that are often promoted as ‘fat burners’ and ‘metabolism boosters. These don't work, and may intact cause a lot of damage inside the body. Not worth tying even.
Beware of health / weight loss products piggybacking onto health trends, like Paleo, Keto, Zone etc. Look through these marketing ploys, designed to make you lose - no not your weight but your dough.
Don’t go by heresy. Follow common sense and only believe information that comes from a professional with recognised medicinal and nutrition qualifications, and which agree with your sense of logic and common sense. If it sounds crazy, then it probably is. Listen to your gut feeling; it already knows what’s good for you.
One size cannot fit all. When it comes to weight loss, while the basic rule of creating a calorie deficit (meaning eating less than what you burn in a day) stands, the specifics that work for one person are likely to be different to what works for your partner, neighbour or colleague. So don’t fall for standard diets; work instead according to your needs.
You have to be 100% convinced about the diet you decide to follow; half hearted attempts are bound to fail and land you in deeper trouble eventually (read heavier than before).
Take up a diet only if it agrees with you enough for you to be able to follow it long term.
The diet must work out practically for ‘your’ situation, requirements and circumstances. You are an distinct individual with a certain lifestyle, work pattern, personality type, body needs and hunger time.
Don’t become a sheep and just follow the herd. Don’t just try out the latest hot fad diets just because people are talking about it. It is after all ‘your’ health we are talking about here.
Focus on nutrition first, the calories will take care of themselves. When you plate something that is good for you (nutritionally), you automatically eat foods that are lower in calories, so lose weight and gain health both.
Finally don’t snub traditional wisdom. Trust your granny’s wisdom. Our grandmothers somehow already knew (though logic and common sense) what modern science is only now discovering, and all those rules work, both for health gain and weight loss.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico), Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa) and Fix it with foods.)
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