When people talk about losing weight, dieting is brought up seemingly hand-in-hand in the conversation.
“You need to stop eating carbs.”
“Fat is a no-no.”
“Ketchup? No, honey. Ketchup will make you fat.”
Heard these “tips” before? Not surprising, since many of us seem to have a hard time deciphering nutrition panels and understanding why we can only eat 2,000 calories per day. There are numerous systems to help people understand how to eat, but assuming one system will work for everyone is our biggest problem.
Why Dieting Seems to Work
Let’s face it. We are all pretty bad at math. And dieting is basically a way to simplify the math.
Some systems use points to crunch the numbers down, while others encourage you to abstain from certain foods so you avoid high-calorie foods, but ultimately every diet is trying to get you to do the same thing: Reduce the number of calories you eat.
And these diets do work, for as long as you stick to the diet.
Why Dieting Doesn’t Work
As much as we all hate doing math, the “2,000 calorie rule” is a good baseline to explain why dieting works.
All diets are designed to keep the number of calories below what is right for your body. Even keto dieters need to count calories. It just seems like they don’t count calories, because they often eat a food that they like (meat), so their brains are satiated and they end up eating less calories overall.
However, there is an inherent problem with most diets: people eventually stop doing them.
And if you stop restricting the number of calories you take, you will eventually see your weight creep back up.
What Does Work?
Everyone is different, but what is the same is finding a way of eating that you can do for the rest of your life. Instead of taking on a diet, you need to find a new habit of how you will eat from now on.
Confused? The difference may seem minimal, but your ability to change the way you eat, instead of temporarily avoiding foods you crave, is a key difference.
As unhealthy as the example above is with hamburgers, it can work if weight is your only measurement, simply because there is a calorie deficit. However, if you like hamburgers enough to consider eating them three times a day, it may seem impossible to give them up completely.
One tried and true method that does help is trying Intermittent Fasting (IF). IF works because there are less rules to what you can eat and less math to do. Instead, IF focuses on limiting when you can eat.
Rules of IF:
- You can’t eat until 12pm
- You can’t eat after 8pm
That’s pretty much it. However, our doctors do recommend adding two more rules, so you can optimize your immunity and set up a healthy lifestyle for your future self:
- Fiber first, i.e. eat your vegetables
- Use a good supplement
The reason IF will work is because it still limits the number of calories you eat per day, but it relies on you feeling full from the two main meals you can eat during that time (lunch at noon and dinner before 8pm).
It's important to note that IF doesn't allow you to binge and eat whatever you want. Instead, it allows you to fit foods you crave into your diet. It is easy for anyone to do. And most importantly: it is a lifestyle change you can maintain for the rest of your life.
Be sure to consult with your personal physician before starting any lifestyle change. And remember: you can lose weight if you try, but will dieting help you keep the weight off once you are "done?"