So, you are fed up with how you look and feel. The weight has slowly been piling on and now it is time to do something about it. You have done ‘diets’ in the past, and they worked! You lost maybe 1-2 stones in a couple of months. Great, let’s do that again. So, you start that diet, or something similar. This consists of shakes 2-3 times a day, and if you’re lucky, one meal. This diet is somewhere between 400-1000 kcal.
You start losing weight, fast, you are loving it, and very motivated. You stick to it 100% for a few weeks. It is hard because you are missing foods and you are hungry, but you enjoy the results. However, then disaster strikes! The weight loss slows down and plateaus. All you can do is lower the calories even more. Which you do, but then again, the weight loss plateaus. At this point you are eating (or not eating) so little that you are craving foods, and the motivation isn’t there because you are not seeing results.
Then, you have been invited out for a meal and drinks with friends. You can’t turn it down, so you think you’ll be good and not drink and have healthy food. However, when the time comes, all your friends are there eating and drinking and having fun, so you give in. You eat and drink more than you normally would, so you feel fat, bloated, hung-over and just generally rubbish the day after.
YOU ARE THEN SO FED UP WITH STARVING YOURSELF THAT YOU GO BACK TO EATING HOW YOU WERE BEFORE YOU STARTED THE DIET. BUT THEN, YOU HOP ON THE SCALES, AND YOU HAVE GAINED ALL THE WEIGHT YOU HAVE LOST, AND EVEN MORE!!! SO, WHAT DO YOU DO NOW? GO THROUGH THE SAME PROCESS AGAIN? OR JUST KEEP EATING AND KEEP PUTTING MORE WEIGHT ON?
This is what I hear from a lot of my clients. They have gone through this process many times throughout their lives. Most of the time they say that these diets have worked for them in the past. I always say to them; how have they worked if you are sat here in front of me, heavier than you were when you started these diets? There is a reason why DIEts have the word DIE in them, because they always die out eventually, not to mention all the health issues they can cause.
Any crash diets (shakes, meals or air!!) are designed to put you in a calorie deficit. Not just a small deficit, but often around 1000kcal less than you should be having. Then people often exercise as well, creating even more of a deficit. This puts our body into starvation mode which leads to hormone down regulation of your thyroid, leptin, testosterone etc. up regulation of cortisol (the stress hormone that increases fat storage), and down regulation of the nervous system. This down regulation of the thyroid makes you more susceptible to developing an underactive thyroid. Having an underactive thyroid means your metabolism slows down (as well as lots of other systems in the body), which means you don’t burn as many calories as you should, therefore find it very difficult to lose weight and even stay your normal weight. Most people are then on medication for the rest of their life because of this.
Our bodies have been primed for survival and conservation, we have been designed to withstand prolonged periods of famine. Crash dieting goes against every natural instinct your body has and it will react accordingly to bring you back to square one as quickly as you lost the weight. This means you WILL put the weight back on!!!!
Not only this, but these meal shakes often contain artificial rubbish which can damage health even more.
There are no quick fixes. You must be patient and enjoy the journey, that way, it will come off and stay off. How are you meant to learn to eat the right foods if you are not even eating foods?!! Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring, experiment with different foods and recipes. Once you get the hang of it and change habits, you will be healthy and happy, not to mention a good few pounds lighter!