Have you ever noticed that after every diet you go on, once you go back to normal eating again, you end up with more weight than before you started dieting? Frustrating isn’t it?
The sad truth is that diets don’t work. In fact, in the long term, they actually cause weight gain rather than weight loss.
One study tracking 20,000 women over an 8 year period found that 99% of those women that dieted during the 8 years ended up putting on substantially more weight over this time than those that didn’t diet at all. How is this possible when dieting is a billion dollar industry? Well, the truth lies in the story of evolution. It has only been in very recent times (a blink in the eye of evolution) that for most people in the world, food is not a scarcity. Our bodies are still built with genetic programming that protects us against famine, because it wasn’t all that long ago that famine was a very real threat for most of the human race. When the body is deprived of calories and/or fat over a period of time (whether through famine or dieting) it goes into fat storage (rather than fat burning) mode to protect against times of scarcity. The body cannot tell the difference between a perceived threat and a real one. So your mind may know that food is abundant (and that you’re just not choosing to eat it) but your body does not, it thinks that there is a famine.
The body’s first priority (survival) precedes its need to shed weight, so we continue to gain weight after each diet.
So what’s the solution? It lies in helping the body to feel unthreatened, so that it doesn’t feel that it needs to store fat. Here are 5 simple strategies that will help the body feel safe enough to burn fat, so that your weight loss is sustainable. Implementing these 5 strategies alone will not result in you losing 5 kilos in 2 weeks, but they will help the body to feel safe enough to start burning fat rather than storing it. They should form the foundation of any eating plan, whether the aim is to lose weight or not.
Strategy 1: REDUCE STRESS. When we are stressed our levels of stress hormone (Cortisol and Adrenaline) increase, and these two hormones influence the body in such a way that survival takes priority and non-essential functions are shut down. Blood flow is re-routed to the head & limbs and away from digestion, slowing the metabolism down. Fat burning grinds to a halt. So in other words, stress chemistry is the enemy of weight loss. The result? For approx 94% of the population (the other 6% lose weight when stressed) stress causes weight gain, especially around the middle.
Strategy 2: STOP CALORIE COUNTING. Calorie counting makes the body feel unsafe (as it moves into famine mode) and it attempts to protect itself by storing fat rather than burning it. Meal skipping & deprivation also increases our appetite later on, as the body attempts to correct itself calorically & nutritionally by overeating.
Strategy 3: PROTEIN & GOOD FATS IN 1ST HALF OF DAY. Eating a (relatively) high ratio of healthy protein and good fats in the first half of the day (breakfast and lunch) helps to regulates blood sugar and appetite, reduces sugar cravings, regulates mood and emotions and reduces the desire to binge/overeat in the afternoon & evening.
Strategy 4: SLOW DOWN WITH EATING. Research shows that eating whilst distracted causes weakened metabolic force, digestive upset, bowel disorders, lowered immunity, fatigue after meals and compulsive eating, especially in the evenings. When we eat fast and whilst distracted we are far more likely to overeat, which ultimately leads to weight gain. Research shows that slowing down and eating mindfully (with awareness) increases digestive capacity by 60-70% and improves nutrient uptake & assimilation.
Strategy 5: EATING RHYTHM. Whether we like it or not, our bodies have a natural bio-circadian & metabolic rhythm which is entrained with the sun. Our digestive & metabolic capacity increases as the sun moves higher in the sky to midday (peaking between 12 and 2pm) and then it starts to drop down as the sun drops in the sky, with a small rise again between 5-7pm. At around 9pm our metabolic capacity drops sharply as the body prepares for sleep, rest and rejuvenation (rather than digestion). Try to follow the body’s natural eating rhythm for a week or two by following this loose schedule: breakfast between 7-9.30am (if not hungry in the morning, bring dinner earlier the night before), a snack at mid morning if required, lunch as the largest meal of the day, again a late afternoon snack if required and then dinner before 7pm (the earlier the better). This will ensure that you optimise the body’s natural metabolic capacity.
Letting go of dieting can be hard, because it is a concept so ingrained in our society.
It definitely involves a commitment to start loving the body again, rather than waging war on it. Many of us have an intimate and deeply complicated relationship with food and the body, one that we’d rather leave hidden away and untouched. But when we dig deeper and look underneath, when we unearth what is causing the unwanted symptoms & behaviours, then we empower ourselves to long-lasting change.
True transformation can only be borne of love, not hate.
If you are ready to start loving your body back to its natural and rightful weight, then book in for a Free 30 minute Body Breakthrough Session with me (just hit reply to this email). In this session we will to sit down and explore more deeply your own particular challenge, see what’s holding you back and potentially develop a roadmap to get you where you want to go.