We all know someone that is ALWAYS on a diet. They are the first to try the new “next best way of eating”. Think paleo, keto, intermittent fasting. If this person is you, I hope the information I share in this post will help you to understand why these diets don’t work for the long term; and can actually be detrimental to your health.
The common denominator with all diets is that they require calorie restriction. Which is what causes the weight loss, at first. However, after being on the diet for a while it is highly likely that you will plateau and your weight will not budge. Our bodies are extremely adaptable and amazing machines. They do whatever it takes to keep us alive. So, let’s talk about what our body does for us when we chronically restrict calories.
First, our brains are really good at dealing with starvation. When someone restricts calories, the brain understands restriction as that the human must be in a time of famine. So, the brain jumps in and says “okay, I’m ready for this; I know what to do to save my body.”
Second, our bodies do some amazing things to decrease our metabolism so that we don’t need as many calories to get through the day. In order to shut down our metabolism and protect our body weight; which is what our brain wants to do, the body naturally and quickly slows our heart rate, drops our blood pressure, slows our gastrointestinal system, and shuts down the warm blood flow to our hands and feet.
It is important to remember that everyone responds differently; just like some people who have smoked for 6 months develop lung cancer, while others have smoked for 50 years and are perfectly healthy. However, there are many medical consequences of chronic calorie restriction that are pretty consistently universal, whether you are thin or in a larger body:
Allison Tropf, MS, RD, CSSD
Allison is a Sports Dietitian in Michigan. She enjoys helping others reach their nutrition and fitness goals through reliable and trustworthy recommendations.
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