Have you ever tried a fad diet? One of those cutting calories, skipping entire food groups, only eating high protein, or maybe it was only eating the packaged meals from Jenny Craig or weight watchers. Where you were adding up points and adding calories, always reading labels.
One thing that fad diets do help with is reading ingredient labels, but that’s about all I like about them. They may get you to pay attention to ingredient labels, but more for reading the calorie count and nutritional value of said product, with little concern to the ingredients in the product.
Individuals may think they need to cut calories to lose weight and avoid certain foods all together. Dietary restrictions are all to common in dieting, and they aren’t always necessary. I am not advocating junk foods and fast food by any means. Processed junk and sugar laden foods shouldn’t be a mainstay of anyone’s diet, thus eliminating them is wise or at least cutting back on them.
The problem with many fad diets is they promote one food group over another, are rarely balanced, and can be detrimental to health. For example, lets pick on low fat diets. One may start a low fat diet, buying products that are labeled “Low Fat” or “Fat Free,” thinking they are healthy. The problem is fat makes food taste good, so if we eliminate it from products, something has to be added to help with taste. That something is sugar. So you gave up fat, but you gained sugar. Sugar, when ate in excess, is stored as fat, defeating the whole purpose of “low fat.” Lets not forget from previous posts, fat is our friend and can help you lose weight.
If you missed anyone of the posts on the macro-nutrients, you can read them at the provided links below:
- The Good & Bad on Carbohydrates: Which carbs you should be consuming, and those you should avoid or limit
- Why High Carbohydrate Diets aren’t Necessary for Endurance Events: The theory that carbo-loading is a must if doing endurance events, is now replaced with new research on the benefits of high fat diets.
- The Skinny on Fats: Good Fats vs. Bad Fats: An outline of the different types of fats, and why they are unhealthy or healthy.
- The Skinny on Fats: 7 Best Fat Sources & Why Fats Help with Weight Loss: My favorite & best food sources high in EFA’s and healthy fat that can help with weight loss or maintaining weight.
- Build with Proteins: Great protein sources for vegetarian, vegans and meat eaters, as well as the importance of protein.
- Build with Proteins: Why Too Much isn’t a Good Thing : Information on why high protein diets can be detrimental to one’s health.
Here’s why cutting calories isn’t always necessary:
- A calorie is not just a calorie: What does this mean? You can eat 100 calories in peanut m&m’s or 100 calories in carrots, and the nutritional value isn’t the same. The carrots are a healthier option. It’s not about how many calories you are eating, but what type of calories you are eating. Is it 1,000 calories of junk, or 1,000 calories of whole foods? Calorie dense foods are going to supply your body with the nutrients it needs, while empty calories don’t supply the body with anything, hence empty calories. Empty calories are the processed, sugar laden junk. They have no nutritional value and only contribute to weight gain. Calorie dense foods have the fiber and protein you need to help with weight loss and maintaining weight.
- Eating whole foods is best: What are whole foods? One ingredient foods. So fruits and vegetables, meats (not processed lunch meats), brown rice, sweet potatoes, etc. Packaged foods are not whole foods, and are often times empty calories. Whole foods supply you with calorie dense calories. When buying packaged foods, read ingredients and look for ingredients you can pronounce. The fiber in fruits and vegetables, and the whole grains are supplying you with vital vitamins and minerals your body needs.
- Restrictions don’t always work: When some individuals feel they are restricting calories, it makes them want to consume more calories. Feeling restricted may make you feel punished and left out. Balance is key. Trying to eat healthy 80% of the time, and allowing for those occasional treats. There will be times we can splurge, but habit and rarity are two separate things. Restricting calories on harsh diets only result in binge eating, and unhealthy dietary habits.
- A balanced diet is best: Eating a variety of foods, from whole food sources is best. Getting enough calories from proteins, fats and carbohydrates is the best for our health. While some may need more fat and lower carbohydrates, and others need higher carbohydrates and lower fat. Eat a variety of healthy, whole foods and lots of color. Eat the good fats, complex carbohydrates and quality protein.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended to diagnose or cure any disease or disorder. This post is for informative purposes only. The information provided is from my many years of studying Nutrition and from the education I gained with my Masters in Nutrition. Please consult your physician or Nutritionist / Dietitian before beginning a new dietary program.
Until Next Time Be Whole and Be Fit