Fad diets are popping up everywhere this time of the year. Gyms are filling up, juice cleanses are all the rage, and salads have resurfaced at the office.
After indulging over the holidays, many of us want to shed those extra pounds by following specific diets that restrict calories and promise easy and quick weight loss results.
In our fast-paced society, we have become accustomed to “quick fixes” and expect results to come easily. Which is why many of us are constantly after the next supplement or diet that we hope will fix everything.
Some fad diets include:
The Master Cleanse: The Master Cleanse is a strict cleanse that is also known as the Lemonade Diet, Maple Syrup Diet, or Cayenne Pepper Diet. Initially, the Master Cleanse was not intended for weight loss as much as for cleansing the body. It focuses on a lemonade drink consisting of lemons, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water.
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The Cabbage Soup Diet was designed as a short-term approach to rapid weight loss and mainly focuses on a cabbage-based soup that is low in calories.
Raw Food Diet: The Raw Food Diet focuses on the consumption of unprocessed plant-based foods in their raw state to retain the enzymes and vitamins that can be destroyed through cooking.
Ketogenic Diet : The Keto diet is based on the process of ketosis, in which the body uses ketones for fuel instead of glucose. Ketones are a byproduct of fat metabolism that are utilized in times of starvation, carbohydrate restriction, or excessive exercise. For the body to reach a state of ketosis, calorie intake must be limited and comprised of 80% fat.
Juice Cleanses: Juice cleanses are designed to promote cleansing and detoxification. They usually last 3-7 days and may include things like nut milks and soups as well as fruit and vegetable juices. Good quality juices are always organic and cold-pressed.
Paleo Diet: The Paleolithic diet, or Primal diet, adopts the principle of sticking to foods that our caveman ancestors ate before the cultivation of grains and legumes, and the invention of processed and packaged foods. This diet focuses on high-quality meats, non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats.
VeganDiet: A vegan diet omits all animal products and by-products: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, honey, leather, fur, silk and wool. An ideal vegan diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, nuts, seeds and legumes.
Have you tried going on a diet? Were you able to keep it up and keep the weight off? For most people, the answer is no. Diets are usually not effective for long-term results and health, which can lead to frustration. They typically follow a yoyo-dieting approach, which involves losing weight whilst restricting food groups and calories, and gaining it all back again when you can’t sustain it.
Most diets usually focus on restricting calories dangerously low whilst increasing physical activity. This is especially problematic for women, who need a higher body fat percentage for reproductive and hormonal health. Cutting down your calories too low can result in amenorrhea, hormonal imbalances, low thyroid function, damaged metabolism, and weight gain, believe it or not.
When it comes to weight management, your body is really striving for balance. If it feels like there is a famine or severe restriction going on, then it will be prompted to hold onto fat stores to prepare for survival. This is why restricting never really works.
Many diets focus solely on caloric consumption and lack major nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber, resulting in imbalances, fatigue, disordered eating, cravings, and health problems over time. And we all know by now that calories are not everything.
Another issue with diets is that they follow a 'one size fits all' approach, assuming we are all the same. The reality is that everysingle body is different and will strive on a different diet. This is where you need to do the work to figure out what foods make you feel the best and which foods don’t.
So, what’s the best way to achieve long-term healthy weight loss? It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change that incorporates nutrition, movement, and healthy habits. And it’s something that feels good to you.
Here are some ways to use food as a tool for healthy weight loss results :
No one wants to eat the same thing every day. Your body needs a variety of nutrients to stay healthy and the best way to ensure that you are getting them through your diet is including an abundance of whole foods. Try choosing a new fruit or vegetable to try every week to make things interesting and add variety into your diet. Look up healthy recipes for some of your favourite meals, because when you enjoy the food you are eating, it is easier to commit to a healthy eating plan.
Foods that we are allergic or sensitive to create inflammation in the body. And inflammation = weight gain. In fact, it’s the leading cause of obesity. The most common allergenic foods include wheat/gluten, corn, soy, dairy, eggs, shellfish, and nightshades. An elimination diet is a good way to figure out if you react to these foods (or others) because you may not be showing obvious symptoms. To do an elimination diet, simply remove suspected offending foods for 3 to 4 weeks and reintroduce them 1 at a time, paying special attention to any changes in health.
Portion sizes have become bigger and bigger, along with the size of our waists. The classic restaurant portions are generally too much for one person to eat in one sitting. Finding the right amount for you is important and will differ according to your sex, activity level, weight, height, and personal goals. You can calculate your caloric needs by using an app like My Fitness Pal or by calculating your BMR.
Another way to ensure you are eating the right amount is to chew your food and eat slowly. That way, you can pay closer attention to your hunger signals.
Focus on whole, fresh foods that have not been packaged and processed. This will make a significant difference, especially if you are used to eating the standard North American diet.
Typical foods from our diet nowadays are void in nutrients, pro-inflammatory, blood sugar spiking, and promote dysbiosis; a recipe for disaster.
Whole foods are rich in vital minerals and vitamins, satiating, anti-inflammatory, and support healthy weight management. When grocery shopping, stick to the outer edges and avoid foods that have ingredient labels and ingredients that you can’t pronounce.
Avoid alcohol, sugar, and caffeine
These are stimulants that can result in reduced adrenal and thyroid function as well as spiked blood sugar and cortisol levels, which increases fat storage. They can also deplete certain vitamins and minerals, alter brain communication, decrease liver function, and increase estrogen production. If you can’t seem to burn the belly fat and you experience hormonal imbalances, these may well be some of the culprits. Opt for alternatives like green tea, stevia, kombucha, and herbal teas instead. Check out Pukka Teas for a yummy variety of teas!
Drink more water
We have said it before, and we’ll say it again: stay hydrated!
First of all, how many times have you thought you were hungry until you drank water? A lot of the time, we mistake thirst for hunger. Drinking enough water is a key factor in warding off cravings and overeating.
For those regular drinkers of soda, sports drinks, frappuccinos, and juices, you may want to re-evaluate your choices. Swapping for pure water will make a significant difference for your health and waistline as these liquids can be high in sugar, HFCS, and fructose, which have been linked to weight gain and numerous health problems.
Eat regular meals
Skipping meals may sound like a good idea but it only backfires on your weight loss efforts. Make sure you are eating regular balanced meals to help stabilize blood sugar and energy levels. Your body needs adequate calories and nutrients to perform its vital daily functions before even considering your day-to-day activities like movement and brain function. If you find yourself overeating at meals because you feel starving, you may need to be eating more often. Bring healthy snacks with you if you have to go long periods without a meal. We love Iron Vegan Bars for a quick energy boost!
Love your gut
Your gut has a big say on weight loss! Studies have shown that bad bacteria in our gut can extract more calories from the food we eat, contribute to constipation, alter our hunger hormones and appetite signals, and interfere with fat burning enzymes. Certain bacteria can also trigger inflammation in the body, making it more difficult to lose excess weight.
Include probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha, and prebiotic foods like artichoke, psyllium, garlic, and onions to promote a healthy microbiome. You can also supplement with a good quality probiotic.
Keeping a food log is a great way to track what you are actually eating on a daily basis, and uncover how these foods make you feel. Write down everything you eat in a day, and any associated symptoms after each meal. You may find you are eating too much or too little or need more of a certain nutrient. This is a great tool to use to become more intuitive and aware of your eating habits. It may also highlight foods that are actually making you feel worse and contributing to inflammation in the body.
Spices are fantastic to add flavour to your meal and they also contain therapeutic effects and medicinal properties. Some spices also benefit weight loss as they speed up metabolism and promote fat burning. These include ginger, cayenne, cinnamon and black pepper.
Support your liver
Proper liver function is crucial for health also also weight loss. Your liver is involved in over 400 functions in the body including detoxification, of course. Promoting liver detox can help release fat cells, lower inflammation, optimize hormonal balance, and promote elimination of toxins and waste.
Always make sure you have healthy bowel function before doing any sort of liver detox. A great way to promote liver health with foods is to include lots of leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and herbs like cilantro and parsley.