Medically reviewed by Shanmukha Priya, M.Phil and Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition
Almost anybody overweight would have tried to follow a diet program at some point or the other in their life. weight loss diet or Detox Diets are all around you.
Just type it on google and you will come up with hundreds of options. You get 15 lakhs search results just for GM dieting.
It seems like a no-brainer on what your diet should be. Just cut down on few unhealthy foods, add more fruits, etc. and you are good to go! Unfortunately, diet plan for women is not so simple.
Table of contents
- Confuse it with weight loss
- Lose muscles
- Lose health
- Consuming perceived health food
- Self Proclaimed Experts
Good news is that the fastest way to lose weight can be with any kind of diet (people are able to lose weight just by eating burgers as well).
But the bad news is that you will gain back almost the entire weight within a year or two if you have not done it in the right way.
Also, you will lose weight, instead of becoming healthier. Research shows 95% of people fail to maintain their quick weight loss and gain back almost everything they have lost within 1-2 years.
Let’s look at the mistakes that self -dieters make, because of which their fast weight loss is not sustainable.
Mistake No. 1: Lose Water Weight And Confuse it With Weight Loss:
Salt diet is one of the popular ways to lose weight. You sacrifice salt completely from your weight loss diet plan for a week or so.
Salt is instrumental in absorbing water in your body and no salt leads to water loss from the body. But the day, you start eating salt like before, the weight comes back. Water loss is not fat loss.
Slimming centres and sauna belts also manipulate consumers as people confuse water loss with weight loss.
Through some heat treatment, you don’t burn fat, you are only burning water from your body. Alas! We wish the such machine was invented wherein you can lie on a bed and it could probably be the best way to lose weight.
No rich person would be fat. And people would not have to work so hard to lose weight.
Mistake No. 2: Lose Muscles and Lower Metabolism
This, in fact, is a bigger problem than the first problem. Losing muscles is the worst thing you can do to your body when you are trying along with a diet to lose weight.
And almost everybody makes this mistake. Why do people lose muscles? Because of two reasons:
1. Protein consumption is quite less:
It is easy to cut down on food and lose weight. But when you cut down food, you also tend to cut down protein. But proteins are building a block of your muscles.
If you do not give protein to your body, muscle mass will decrease. Girls, this point is valid for you as well, not just body-builders.
They need extra protein to gain extra muscle, but you also need a good amount of protein to maintain your existing muscle mass.
It is believed that you should consume. 8-1gm of protein per kg of body weight. People typically consume less than half of it.
2. Too much focus on cardio workout and no strength training:
Walking, jogging, treadmills, cross-trainers, cycling are typically associated with weight loss diet programs.
Whereas strength training is associated with body-building. But strength training is equally important for weight loss as well. With pure cardio workout, you will start losing muscle mass.
You need strength training to compensate for that loss. Ideally, you should do both cardio and strength.
But if you have to choose one, choose strength and not cardio. In fact, interval training can combine the two in one short workout.
Why are muscles important?
Because muscles burn calories even when you are at rest. According to Wharton, 5 kgs of muscle would burn 55 calories in a day.
So even without you doing anything, your muscles are working out for you. If you have low muscle mass, your metabolism will be slower. And that’s very bad news for you.
Let’s take an example.
Sunita goes on weight loss diet and loses 10 kgs out of which 5 kgs are muscle mass. As a result, her metabolism goes down. Now, after the dieting program, she goes to her earlier food habits.
With lower metabolism, she will start gaining weight with even a normal diet. And she gains 10 kgs in a year. And it is not 5 kgs fat and 5 kgs muscle. She gains the entire 10 kgs in form of fat.
So, though she is on the same weight as she was before starting the program, she has 5 kgs less muscle and 5 kgs fatter. You make this mistake couple of times and you are doomed for life.
If you are trying to lose weight on your own or with some fancy detox diet, keep this point in mind always. Otherwise, you will do more harm to you in the long term and losing weight in the future will become so much more difficult.
We get so many clients who have spoiled their metabolism through repeated such diets and they find it extremely difficult to lose weight.
Some weight loss diet programs advise you not to have too much protein. Because of it good for weight loss in the short term. Muscles have weight and with lack of protein, you lose muscles and hence lose weight. You are happy as you do not understand the difference between muscle loss and fat loss.
Please remember you want to lose fat and not muscles. Bodybuilders are much heavier than an average person, but they are not fat.
They have the huge amount of muscles in their body. If you are overweight because of more muscles, it is actually a good news.
Mistake No. 3: Lose Health
Losing weight should be all about gaining health. But unfortunately, with most of the weight loss diet programs, people tend to lose health as well.
Diets typically make you look at food as if it is your enemy. We are always told to eat fewer calories and every food has calories. Hence, one starts looking at food as if it is bad for our body.
But food is the greatest gift that Nature has given to us. Without food, we would not be alive. Without the right food, our organs will not function. Food is so much more than calories; it gives us minerals, vitamins, protein, fibre and enzymes.
Food has the greatest impact on your health. There is a famous saying “When food is not right, medicine is of no use.
And when food is right, medicine is of no need.” It is a totally myopic view of starving yourself to lose weight. You are not just eating fewer calories, but also less of everything else.
And it leads to all kind of problems from hair fall to feeling lethargic in inviting all kind of lifestyle diseases.
Losing weight is not heroic. Anybody can lose some weight using some shortcuts. But losing weight in a healthy way is heroic. Dieticians spend 3-7 years studying nutrition. If nutrition was just 1 line “Eat Less” course, then all could have completed the course in 10 seconds.
Why waste so many years? Obviously, nutrition has a lot more to offer. I believe not just 7 years, even a lifetime is less to study nutrition in detail. It is such a complex and deep topic.
Mistake No. 4: Start Consuming “Perceived Health Foods”
Typically, people who are health conscious actually eat worse food than people who don’t care about health. Sounds surprising, but that’s a fact. I have made that mistake a few years back.
Health Food industry is spoiled by all big companies. They sell anything in the name of health.
Even 2-minute noodles call themselves healthy. Every oil company is shouting on top of their voice, how their oil is so healthy and it helps in lowering sugar levels, etc. In fact, all of them claim “cholesterol free”.
Fact is that no oil can have cholesterol, as cholesterol is found only in animal sources. It is like your vegetables claiming that there is no cholesterol in them. As if it was possible.
In India, “perceived health foods” sell in the market like anything. What is the perceived health foods? Foods which are perceived to be healthy but they are not. They are equally bad or even worse than their regular counterparts. Oats biscuits have 2-5% oats and they are called oats biscuit. A prime example of perceived health food.
What are the most popular weight loss diet foods that a health-conscious person picks up from the market: artificial sweeteners, soy products, juice, diet cola, corn flakes, low-fat snacks or any food product with the word “Diet/Lite”.
Unfortunately, over 90% of these products are not healthy.
- Cornflakes have a glycemic index (GI) of 92, whereas cola has a GI of only 72. Higher GI means it is unhealthier for you; it is a measure of how fast it releases glucose into your body.
- Diet cola has artificial sweeteners. Which are not at all good for your health. Even for weight, diet cola is worse than regular sugar-laden cola. In fact, you are more likely to gain more weight with diet cola.
- There is a lot of research which shows how artificial sweeteners can cause multiple diseases in your body, including cancer. Sugar is bad, but artificial alternatives are worse. Every cell of your understands glucose (sugar is largely glucose), but it sees artificial sweeteners as an alien object. And it releases fat storing hormones to fight these alien objects.
- Soya is a glorified food. But soya is good only in very small quantity and in fermented condition. We have talked in detail in our book the ill effects of soya.
- Products which are labelled as diet food or low fat are for the namesake. Instead of 30% fat, they might have 25% fat, which is still very high. And to make up for the loss of taste, they will add a lot of sugar, making the food worse.
It’s a big puzzle if you want to shop healthy in a supermarket. Even after years of being in this business, I still struggle to find one.
Mistake No. 5: Become Self Proclaimed Experts
In India advice is free. And everybody has some advice when it comes to diet. Everybody has their own “Dadi Maa Ke nushke” to lose weight. And most of the times, that information is wrong. It is said, “half knowledge is worse than no knowledge”.
We call them Self-proclaimed Professor Dieter. They are not just dieters, they are dieticians (self-proclaimed, though). They would buy few books on diet, read a few articles on the net, follow the best diet plan for weight loss, and become a self-proclaimed dietician.
But half knowledge can be dangerous. If reading a couple of books was enough to become a dietician, then why would dieticians spend 5 years studying the subject?
Nutrition is such a vast subject that reading 50 books is also not sufficient to know everything about it.
One of my close friends strongly feels that “Going on Juice Diet is the best diet. No food, only juice. If you do it for 60 days, your life will change”. I agree, life will change, but for the worse!
If fruits were a complete food-group, then why would God create so many other foods? Also, fruit is high in fructose, which is nothing but fruit sugar.
As sugar is bad for weight loss, similarly excessive fruit consumption is bad for weight loss.
Are you making one of these 5 mistakes? If you are, it’s time to introspect. It’s your health, don’t spoil it trying to save some little money. Take expert advice and eat right.