Why do we crash diet? Because everyone loves shortcuts. I mean, who’s got the time for a bit of consistency and patience these days? This deep desire for instant gratification is why juice cleanses, crash diets, weight loss pills, and 30-day “shreds” are so popular when it comes to weight loss.
Weight loss services in the U.S. make up a $3.8 billion industry, and the space is forecasted to grow yearly. Well, given that obesity is also on the rise, it should go without saying that whatever these weight loss services are doing isn’t working. Quick fixes sell, but do they really work?
The short answer is no. Even if people experience some weight loss in the short term, crash diets, juice cleanses, and other quick fixes almost always lead to people regaining their weight. Often, people gain back the weight they lost plus a little extra. Going on a crash diet is like taking one step forward and three steps back.
Not to mention that back-and-forth weight fluctuation is terrible for your hormonal health, which can make weight loss more difficult in the future. If you think about it, a crash diet or a juice cleanse is more like one step forward, five steps back, and digging yourself in a hole. That is not how you make progress.
As a Daily Tonic reader, you are probably past trying crash diets. We’ve all been there at some point in our journey, but chances are you’ve realized that they don’t work, and you now have a better approach to nutrition and weight loss.
But there is still a mistake a lot of educated, health-conscious people are making when it comes to weight loss, and once again, it is grounded on our deep desire for instant gratification and quick results. Plant-based, keto, carnivore, paleo—these are all diets that have been popularized because they simplify dieting into a black-and-white approach of “eat more of this” and “eat less of that.”
The crash diet eventually fades because caloric intake is usually overlooked
While these diets work for many people, it is important to note that none of these approaches will work for everyone. And the reason for that is simply because weight loss is primarily dictated by your overall caloric intake per day, not by what foods you eat or avoid.
Are some foods healthier, less inflammatory, and more nutrient dense than others? Of course. But according to this new meta-analysis of 152 trials, “interventions with a single food or food group result in no or trivial weight loss, especially in individuals with overweight or obese.”
Adding or subtracting a single food or food group to your diet isn’t an effective weight loss strategy if you aren’t accounting for how that change impacts your average caloric intake. It is that simple.
The key takeaway? We are not saying that trying keto, paleo, or even a plant-based diet may not lead to weight loss if that is your goal. Those diets can work, and for some people, they may even lead to sustainable weight loss and improvements in overall health. We are saying that calories matter when it comes to weight loss, and to think that adding or subtracting a specific food or food group can serve as a magic pill of some sort will set most people up for disappointment and frustration.
If weight loss is something you are aiming for to start the New Year, it is best to take a balanced approach to your diet instead of avoiding entire food groups. Instead, prioritize adequate protein and satiating vegetables in every meal while exercising regularly and having patience.
Remember: real, sustainable results take time.
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