Over the next 7 weeks, I will be sharing practical and actionable solutions to overcome stubborn pandemic pounds. In this series, we will focus on the 7 nutrition and lifestyle factors that are the usual (and hidden) culprits behind stubborn pandemic pounds.
In part 1 of the 7-week series let me begin by talking about frequently and commonly practiced methods to achieve weight loss not knowing their negative impact. Yes, I am talking about the effect of frequent dieting/ low caloric intake and its impact on the thyroid gland and overall metabolism.
At some point, we would have heard or experienced that dieting is not a sustainable solution. So let me share 3 evidence-based reasons why dieting or reducing the caloric intake does not work in the long run –
1. Dieting and deficiencies:
The number one problem with frequent dieting and caloric restriction is that the intake of whole foods reduces dramatically. Many people in our country are on the verge of nutritional deficiencies. And when he/she begins frequent dieting that can push that person into overt deficiencies due to reduced intake of both macro and micronutrients. With micronutrient deficiencies, it will be difficult to make energy efficiently from the foods he/she consumes.
2. Dieting and set-point phenomenon:
With fewer calories coming in, the body adjusts thinking this is the new normal. What happens there is that after x days of insufficient caloric intake the body adjusts by lowering the basal metabolic rate. This biological defense mechanism makes losing weight more difficult while dieting and restricting calories. Frequent dieting without exercise will result in a “set-point phenomenon”. Adding exercise to the routine while dieting will prevent the set-point phenomenon from setting in.
3. The yo-yo syndrome:
You sure would have come across that term! The continuous cycle of losing and gaining weight due to dieting for a period of time followed by a regular eating pattern leads to yo-yo syndrome. Each time this happens, it gets harder for the body to lose weight. That’s why you might hear about friends or family member who was able to successfully lose weight the first time he/she tried dieting but not that easy in the next instance. The metabolism slows down and the body that entered starvation mode gets used to operating at a slower metabolism making it harder to lose weight.
Frequent dieting/ low caloric intake pursued to achieve weight loss will cause the metabolism to further slow down hindering weight loss. When the caloric intake falls below a certain threshold body enters the starvation mode. And the organ most affected by this low caloric intake/frequent dieting practiced is the “thyroid gland”. The thyroid gland is responsible for increasing or decreasing the metabolism. It is like the accelerator in your car. Frequent dieting can cause a low functioning thyroid and slowed down metabolism geared towards weight gain rather than weight loss.
Let me end by sharing results from a recent large study. This study of 121 trials with 21,942 subjects on 14 famous and common diets and 3 control diets concluded that most diets over six months resulted in modest weight loss and at 12 months the effects on weight loss almost disappeared https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32238384/ Most popular diets simply don’t work for the vast majority of people. Next time you think of going on a diet, think again!
In my practice, I have also seen that inability to lose weight is often a symptom of an underlying health problem that has not been addressed. In other words, a health problem could be causing you to not lose weight, rather than the other way around. It could be a side effect! We must get healthy to lose weight, not lose weight to get healthy. With increasing health comes a balanced body, and that is when weight loss may happen on its own, or with just a little help. I tell my clients that if I can I would remove the term “diet” and “dieting” from the dictionary, I would. Remove dieting and bring nutrition into your lifestyle!
Stay tuned for 6 more actionable, practical as well as sustainable nutrition and lifestyle factors – to add and remove – to rid pandemic pounds that I will be sharing over the next 6 weeks.
Cheers to a healthier you, Niti