So, today is the big day, the one where you decided enough is enough and you are finally going to do something about your obesity. But with all the competing diet plans available, you are having a difficult time making up your mind which one is going to suit your personal needs best.
Decisions, decisions…perusing the internet to find the best program is enough to overload the mind.
Overwhelming to the point you might just decide to remain fat.
Weight Watchers, Keto, Whole 30, Cabbage Soup, Jenny Craig, Nutri System, Vegetarian and Veganism, Pineapple and Cotton Balls,
and on and on…
Of course I would like for you to follow my methodology, but no matter which direction you choose to lose weight, it is imperative that your choice is variable enough to provide you with all the macronutrients, vitamins and minerals your body requires for good health. You also must remain vigilant to consume enough calories in order to not lose too much lean muscle as you are cutting unhealhty body fat. Herein lies the problem with many weight loss programs, you may very well find yourself with too large a caloric deficit with foods that do not provide all of your nutritional needs.
Too often, people cut their calories far too drastically when they decide to lose weight. Calories burned verses calories consumed, right? The answer is both yes and no in this regard. While it is a given that in order to lose weight you must reduce your calorie consumption in order to do so, far too many reduce their daily caloric intake to unhealthy levels. Caloric levels that really should only be done in extreme circumstances and only under a doctors supervision. When you cut your calories too far, you will first lose a lot of water weight before losing fat along with much needed lean muscle mass. As you lose muscle mass, your metabolism is going to slow down. It is important that you not cut calories too far, and that you consume enough protein in order to maintain your lean muscle. If you lose muscle along with your body fat, and then regain those lost pounds but only through fat, you have a new problem. That problem is that, even if your body weight is back to where it was before you lost weight, your body fat percentage is now going to be higher than it was before. Each time you repeat this cycle, your metabolism is going to slow down as your body fat percentages rises. You might get to your goal weight and maintain it, but if you become what is referred to as “skinny fat’ your slower metabolism is going to make it quite easy for the weight to return. Skinny fat is no more healthy or attractive than just being obese fat. You have to choose to lose weight for your healthy body fat percentage and not just to achieve a random number you would like to see on your bathroom scale. You know this number that you want to see when you step on the bathroom scale…despite being over 35 years old, you want to weigh what you did as a junior highschool cheerleader or some other random idea of perfection.
Other problems associated with consuming too few calories:
- Loss of nutrients. On a diet too low in calories, there is a good chance that you will not be consuming enough variety of foods in order to recieve enough nutrients for good health. While supplementation may be of limited benefit, you are better off increasing your food intake to get these nutrients naturally.
- Gallstones can be a side effect of a diet too low in calories. When you lose weight too quickly, your liver excretes extra cholesterol which leads to too much cholesterol in the bile, which can lead to gallstones.
- Nausea can become an issue because you are not receiving enough nutrients, and very little by way of carbohydrates.
- Fatigue becomes a problem as your blood sugar drops which causes your energy levels to plummet. Your body and brain requires calories to function properly. If you cut your calories too low, it can become difficult to maintain clear mental focus.
- Headaches are an issue when your blood sugar levels drop and creates a deficit of glucose in your bloodstream.
- Low calorie diets can cause constipation if you are not consuming enough fiber.
- Menstrual cycles can be affected by drastic loss of weight. A low calorie diet can wreak havoc with your hormonal balance.
Now, to address other health and nutrition issues that arise from some of these fad diets besides what can come from too low of a calorie intake. Here is a dilemma and scenario that can be found on any given day on any given social media sight that is related to weight loss, this scenario is quite prevalent on Weight Watcher’s social media Connect.; Joey Bagofdonuts has been living on pizza, fast food, soda pop and beer for a number of years and makes an intelligent decision that he needs to get his act together, clean up his diet and lose weight. Joey is 70 to 100 pounds overweight, has type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and as a result of his obesity, suffers metabolic syndrome.
Mr Bagofdonuts is no dummy, he has done fairly well for himself despite letting his health suffer through unhealthy dietary habits. He thinks back on words from his grandma about eating his veggies. He knows from classes back in his school days that our bodies need the nutrients from fruits and vegetables, and he is correct in this. Joey decides correctly that his weight and health problems are a direct result of too many cheeseburgers, fries and milk shakes at his local McGreasyburger along with all of those high sodium content meats and cheeses he has had piled atop his weekly pizza’s. After studying different weight loss programs, Joey decides to make a 180 degree change in his life for the better and chooses to become a Vegan. Afterall, what could be healthier than living on fruits and vegetables, they are good for you with all of their vitamins and minerals and very low fat and cholesterol contents. I am not going to knock the Vegan way of eating, but if you ever decide to take this route, you had damn well better understand your nutritional needs and how to make sure they are all fulfilled. Understanding nutrition as a Vegan or vegetarian becomes even more critical if you are going to make your children take on this dietary lifestyle too. If you do not know nutrition, you and your children will only lose some pounds at best. At worst, you can cause yourself serious health issues that may or may not present immediately. You could cause yourself neurological problems and or pernicious anemia through this lifestyle.(1)
You must consume protein in enough variety in order to ensure that you take in all 9 essential amino acids in order for your body to maintain and support its cells and tissues. Your body does not store these essential amino acids which is why you require them in your daily diet. If essential amino acids are missing from your foods, your body’s first response is to break down muscle tissue to access these missing amino’s in order to use them elsewhere in your body. Muscle wasting is the first symptom of an amino deficiency followed by a decreased immune response, weakness and fatigue, changes to your hair and skin followed by even a mental degradation. (2)
Vitamin B12 deficiency can come from a lack of animal products in your diet. There are no plant resources for this vitamin. You will need to take a B12 supplement in order to avoid a deficiency which can cause the neurological problems along with pernicious anemia. (1)
While it is true that vegetarians get the same amount of iron as meat eaters, the iron in meat is more readily absorbed over those in plants, the non-heme variety of iron. Absorption of non-heme iron is enanced by Vitamin C and other acids found in fruits and vegetables. However, it can be inhibited by the phytic acid in whole grains, lentils, seeds and nuts. (1)
You need Omega 3 fatty acids. Diets which are low in fish and eggs are low in EPA and DHA. Or body’s can convert ALA in plant foods to EPA and DHA, but not efficiently. You can get DHA from algae supplements which increase blood levels of DHA as well as EPA through a process called retroversion. DHA fortified breakfast bars and soy milks are available to help with this.Dietary guidelines call for 1.10 grams per day of ALA for women, but for those who consume little to no EPA should get more than that. Good ALA sources include flaxseed, walnuts, canola oils, and soy. (1)
Note about soy and quinoa; These are the only plant sources that are a complete protein which provides you with the full amino acid profile required for good health.
Here are some great resources if you are, or are considering vegetarian or veganism;
American Dietetic Association (www.eatright.org)
Vegetarian Resource (www.vrg.org)
Vegetarian Society of The United Kingdom (www.vegsoc.org)
Rapid weight loss is not good, and is rarely permanent. A healthy weight loss rate is only 1 to 2 pounds per week maximum. One pound of fat is 3500 calories. If you want to lose one pound of fat per week, then you simply reduce your calories by 500 per day to equal 3500 per week. Bear in mind that you did not become overweight in a short amount of time, getting back to a healthy weight may take a while if you do so in a healthy and sustainable manner.