As much as I wish it wasn't true, fad diets are still a thing... We have been bred to believe that when it comes to food less is more and starvation is synonymous with weight loss results, and this is just not the truth.
We need to eat well. Lot's of whole foods, in balanced portions and paired with loads of water in between to have our body function and perform how we would like it to. I’ll just say it now: gross restriction is not part of weight loss. I'll explain why in a minute.
With summer around the corner, women are going to be susceptible to diet-culture, as we have been told we need to shrink our bodies and get "bikini ready." We subscribe to eating less to fit into a socially acceptable size.
Here’s what I think about the top FAD SUMMER DIETS and what I would do INSTEAD!
FAD ONE: Highly Restrictive diets
Ok, so many have heard about the chatter surrounding Kim Kardashian crash dieting to lose 16lbs in three weeks. She did this, to fit into Marilyn Monroe's iconic gold dress.
So, first let me say this takes a team and an incredible amount of willpower, but it is also perpetuating the narrative that dieting for an aesthetic result is still acceptable. I am never one to judge. I do however feel we need to be careful what we give airtime too especially when it comes to setting up healthy eating behaviours and ideals for the next generation of female leaders.
My two largest concerns in young women's health are teaching the principles of healthy living and body awareness/empowerment and assisting in highlighting body acceptance. We are not all 5'9" tall and 120lbs. Some women have a more naturally curvy figure while others are lean and straight. Some women build muscle mass quickly and others have more of a pear shape. We are all beautiful and unique and our figures should be celebrated!!
My biggest problem with Kim's slim down is what she decided to share regarding her next meal, the night of the MET... Apparently, she shared she would be bingeing on donuts and pizza.
If she did in fact do as she said and restricted herself for this 3-week period and then binged on highly processed foods, she is in fact over time, could be damaging her metabolism.
Consequences of Restrictive diets:
Could damage metabolic function. ( yo yo dieting is notorious for causing resistance to weight gain over time). You lose weight quickly the first few times but the more you binge and restrict the harder it gets to lose the weight.
Can cause major blood sugar highs and lows. We are meant to have a release of insulin when we eat a meal but when we eat high amounts of processed carbs (chips, donuts, fried foods, heavy starches) it calls too often on insulin and our cells can become resistant to the call of insulin causing fat storage in our abdominal tissues. This can set us up for Type II Diabetes if we are not careful.
MOODINESS: Our cells' preferred source of fuel comes for carbohydrates and so going low carb can really hit us in our energy centre. Especially in the second half of our cycle when our cells require higher amounts of healthy carbohydrates to function and keep us calm.
FAD TWO: Cutting Calories (Eating less than 1200 calories per day = starvation mode)
We are meant to eat in order to function optimally so this age old mentality that women should starve themselves to fit into a size 2 is ridiculous. We all have different requirements for our metabolism. Some people burn calories faster than others, while others are slow burners, some women are on their feet all day while others sit the majority of the time. We are all different and so this FAD diet makes no sense.
Eating less than 1200 calories per day (especially as a menstruating female) is starvation.
Dizzy spells. When we do not eat enough of the right foods daily. (I don't even talk about calories in
my practice). We can drain our adrenal glands and bottom out our blood sugar which can result in dizziness and nausea.
Caloric restriction can cause stagnant weight loss. Restrictive diets can cause us to throw the body into fat storage mode as the body could be perceiving it has no idea when it will be fed again. Ladies. We need to eat!
Too few calories can impact sleep. We need food to create energy and when we sleep our body is working hard at clearing out dead cells and matter to keep us tip top in our wellness. But when we don't give the body enough fuel, we will get triggered awake, so the liver stimulates a release of energy. If you get up to "pee" often in the night, we need to look at caloric consumption and supporting the liver.
FAD THREE: Working out in excess
The math on this is not as simple as calories in/calories out.
Women will flock to the treadmill, elliptical or streets running off the calories they just ate in order to shed a few pounds. What’s wrong with this?
Working out in excess (especially doing loads of cardiovascular training) can be taxing to our adrenal glands. The adrenal glands regulate the release of cortisol and endorphins. This is why you experience temporary euphoria when you exercise. But, when you exercise for long periods of time, or often, it can deplete the adrenal glands supply of hormones and begin to steal them from other hormones (like progesterone). This can be detrimental to women's hormone health and could even lead to excess "poochy belly" due to too much cortisol in the blood. I recommend no more than 30 mins of cardiovascular activity 3 times a week or even look at working out for your cycle. (see my blog on working out for your cycle).
I see many women hitting the gym hard and also grossly restricting carbohydrate intake (low carb diets). The fact is we need carbohydrates for fuel. It is our cell's preferred source of nutrition for energy. So restricting carbs to "lose the weight" may actually be throwing you into fat storage mode.
What I would do instead: FOCUS ON CONSISTENCY
What do I mean by consistency?
Eating the right amounts (for your height, weight, age, activity level) of protein, carbs, and healthy fats in a day. I can help you determine what that could look like for you. You could start by keeping a journal (I like my fitness pal) to see what your balance of nutrients looks like. I also believe we need to drink adequate amounts of water every day to support the body in all its processes. We can live for 50 days (on average) without food but only 3 without water!! Do you see the importance here?!?! Please start drinking good quality, mineralized, filtered water every day.
Getting good quality sleep every day. We are great at prioritizing a wine night, night out or our next show to binge, we need to put some of that same intention into creating a sleep routine. I have resources to help.
Moving your body every day. That's right folks, EVERY SINGLE DAY! I don't mean that you should kill yourself at the gym either. You may wish to start with getting 10,000 steps each day. going for walks or hikes, doing some yoga or Pilates, lifting weights (great for bone density). Whatever you wish to do, just start moving!!
Question for you: did you find this eye-opening or helpful? If yes, you may want to check out some of my free resources to help you along your holistic health journey. Visit marissasylvesterwellness.com/free to see how I can help you!
Registered Holistic Nutritionist