Anyone looking to lose weight either joins a gym or visits a dietitian. But sadly at both places you lose more money than your weight. Most dietitian focus on delivering quick weight loss regardless of where it might come from – water loss, muscle loss or fat loss. This is disastrous for you in the long term.
1. The Low Calorie Diet:
Most will start you straight off with a low calorie diet. This sudden drop in calories and keeping them at a low level for weeks, slows down your metabolism. Your body adjusts to the new low by reducing its energy expenditure, prioritising energy (aka fat) storage and increasing nutrient availability (i.e. extracting more calories out of your food). The nature of your gut bacteria also changes to one which will help extract maximum out of the food that you eat (Ref1). Our bodies are amazing, aren’t they?
And really, you cannot blame your body for this. It deals with the low energy supply to make sure the body does not disappear from existence. This process by which your metabolism is lowered is popularly called Metabolism Damage or in the scientific community termed as ‘Metabolic Adaptation’.
A scientific paper researching weight regain experienced by obese adults, explains this phenomenon perfectly (Ref1):
“Although some weight loss can occur by returning to a lower-energy diet that is less palatable, satisfactory amounts of weight loss usually do not occur without intentionally restricting energy intake.. The homeostatic system immediately begins to adapt to prevent the individual from wasting away. At some point, a balance is achieved at a lower, steady state weight, and the individual hits the well-known “wall” or plateau in their weight loss efforts.
To lose more weight, the environmental and behavioural strategies must be stepped up a notch. To maintain the reduced weight, these weight loss strategies must be maintained indefinitely.. If the strategies are not maintained, the biological adaptations become a driving force for weight regain
This essentially means that you cannot go back to your ‘normal’ diet once your body has adopted to the low calorie level. If you do, then you WILL MOST DEFINITELY GAIN FAT.
What is worse is that because your metabolism has found a new low. Now to lose the same amount of fat as last time, you would have to eat even fewer calories than the first time you had gone on a diet. :/
2. Low Protein and No Weight Training
The other thing most dietitian’s will discourage you from is ‘building muscles’. The diet you receive will have very low protein content. On top of that they will discourage you from lifting weights in the gym. “Do only Cardio”, they will say.
This is mainly because if you build muscles the weighing scale will not drop drastically in the short term. And they will not be able to show you ‘good results’.
The downside of all the cardio on a very low calorie diet is that you will definitely ruin your metabolism. After your dietitian’s course is over and you decide to start eating normal again, the weight will pile back on.
In the end, you will not know any other way to reduce weight than go back to a VERY LOW CALORIE diet. In fact this time you would have to further reduce your calories because the body’s metabolism is adapted at your previous diet level.
Go to a dietitian if you want to survive on only salads for the rest of your lives!
learn the ABCs of nutrition and you will love how your body responds to your new way of living.
Solution to Metabolic Damage done by your Dietitian
1. Explore the topic of ‘Reverse Dieting’. This will get your metabolism back up without excess fat gain – some fat gain is inevitable but it will be in control and can be easily lost once your metabolism fires up.
2. Start building those muscles – they are the engine that will drive up your metabolism. And leave that treadmill alone, it will not help you lose fat.
PS: From this article it might seem that I am against Dietitian(s) but that is not the case. Sadly though 99% of them employ these strategies and it is not their fault because people also expect quick fixes and maximum loss in minimum time. If you tell your clients that their 10kgs will come off over 5-6 months but it will be permanently, most will not come back. This is the sad truth but there are a few who will tell you like it is. You need a diet plan that suits your individual disposition and most of all build muscles for its long term weight management benefits. Next time you visit your dietitian, ask them if you can weight train, if they say ‘no’, slowly back out from their office!
Ref1: MacLean P.S, et al. Biology’s response to dieting: the impetus for weight gain. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2011 Sep; 301(3): R581–R600.