Today’s post is from our contribution to the Daily Burn, a leading health and fitness blog. Geri Wohl, a Certified Nutrition Consultant and a member of the WellnessFX practitioner team, authored the post. Geri, also known around the web as the “better eating coach” has a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology from Wellesley College and nutrition certifications from Bauman College. Her early career revolved around cancer and immunology research, but while raising my children she switched my focus to nutrition. Today, Geri discusses why eating a balances diet works better for overall health and weight loss than restricted diets.
With the myriad of weight loss techniques, tips, diets and tools being pushed on us these days, we are constantly bombarded with rules, mandates, and promises of pounds shed, sizes dropped, and happiness achieved. But if you’re one of the many who have tried and denied and restricted only to see the same number on your scale, the only thing you’re achieving is frustration. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be so complicated.
Too many of the diets publicized today are diets of exclusivity. Don’t eat fat. Don’t eat carbs. Don’t eat dairy. Don’t eat grains. With all of these rules, it’s easy to wonder, “What CAN I eat?”. Turns out, we’re asking ourselves all the wrong questions.
Exclusionary diets are an ineffective method for healthy and sustained weight loss, too often robbing our bodies of necessary vitamins and nutrients. The best recipe for weight loss is in fact a balanced combination of food groups rather than a strict dedication to one over another. Each food group serves a purpose, and severely limiting or cutting out your consumption of these foods will leave you lacking in certain areas. And while you may shed a few pounds, the effect it’s having on your internal health probably isn’t worth it.
Take fat for example. Often causally associated with weight gain, fat has received much scrutiny from the health industry, who push diets that encourage people to remove as much fat as possible from their diet. Makes sense right? WRONG.
Fat is needed by every cell in our body, as it is a crucial component in building the cell wall. Furthermore, body fat is stored energy. When your body needs energy, it turns to your fat cells. But when your body isn’t getting enough fat in its diet, it will try to conserve what it has, turning instead to muscle, and endangering that tricep definition that was finally starting to show up. Your actual weight may decrease, because muscle weighs more than fat, but chances are you won’t be as strong or as shapely.
Same thing goes for cutting out carbs in favor of protein. Contrary to what diets like Atkins and South Beach may have you believe, high protein diets create a more acidic environment in your body, a situation that leaves you prone to various disease states. Weight loss is achieved in these types of diets by reliance on ketosis, a process that is highly debated by medical experts as to whether or not it is safe for the body. Drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake also increases the odds that you are deficient in many necessary nutrients.
Simply stated, while removing certain food groups from your diet may cause an initial loss in weight, chances are it will make you less healthy at the same time. Just as we strive to seek balance in our personal and professional lives, so should we in our nutritional endeavors. Diets that encourage exclusion of entire categories of food are not only unrealistic and unsustainable, they aren’t helping doing your health any favors. Consuming protein, vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes AND fats will leave you not only more satisfied, but healthier on the inside and out. Sure, some fats are better than others and you should avoid certain carbohydrates, but that’s a much easier landscape to navigate than avoiding that food group altogether.
The point of losing weight is to be healthier. If the way you achieve this goal is in fact making you less healthy, perhaps it’s time to rethink your approach.