Too many times, I have clients walk into my office and say, "Give me a diet that will make me lose a lot of weight fast!" If I strictly thought like a business woman, I would give them a starvation diet, collect my money, and not care about the consequences of arming my clients with faulty ammunition.
The truth is that crash diets are not only harmful to one's health, they make you fat! For thousands of years our genes were designed to fight death due to famine. It's only in recent years that our bodies are fighting death due to obesity and its counterparts (diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol). Our bodies are simply not used to obesity and we still have not formed genes to protect us from this form of deterioration or ultimately death. Therefore, our metabolism is still designed to avoid death due to famine at all costs. What does this mean? Let me illustrate by saying the following:
Suppose you were placed in the desert with only water to drink for 30 days. On day one, your body may be burning 2000 calories per day. As the days pass without food, however, the body's defenses kick in and its ammunition to fight death begin to work. Fat storing hormones are produced (like cortisol and insulin), and the body begins to burn MUSCLE (NOT fat) in order to survive the days to come. By the end of the month, the body's metabolism may be decreased to as little as burning 200 calories per day. Therefore, after your month in the desert, you are left with minimal muscle stores, but your fat is still there! (You may look thinner, but speaking strictly in terms of body composition, you are more fat than muscle). Also, once you begin to eat again, you discover that you gain weight even with eating only a little bit. This is because your metabolism has been compromised as a result of starving. The body is so efficient at fighting death in this manner that if you have starved at one point or another in your lifetime, it remembers and keeps your body with a decreased metabolism.
If we take the above example and apply it to a simple starvation diet, it's pretty much the same thing. If you go on a starvation diet, you are teaching your body to lower the metabolism, store more fat, and to not burn the foods you eat efficiently. This is why countless people that have attempted crash diets have been grimly disappointed by their efforts to lose weight with strict and unrealistic eating plans. They lose weight weight, gain it back and find it harder to lose weight in other attempts.
Just like anything else in life, it takes effort and patience to lose weight healthily. The trick is to make realistic, small, and lifestyle maintainable changes in order to not only lose weight, but to maintain it for life. Your body needs time to adjust to a new state of being. Anything drastic will just cause your body to react drastically.
If you are trying to lose weight, start simply by recording what you eat in a journal for a week. After reviewing the journal, think about what small changes you can begin to incorporate into your lifestyle. For example, if you notice that you eat 2 helpings of food at one sitting, start eating 1 helping of food. If you notice that you don't drink any water, start drinking water. It's as simple as that! These small changes will make a BIG difference in your weight and your overall health.
If you need more help, contact your local dietician to help you out with these changes. And as always, please do not hesitate to contact me for more information.