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Diets - Do They Actually Work?

This may be hard to get your head around, especially when you are surrounded with information, pictures and social media all advertising the ‘best diet ever,’ that magic diet that will actually work, and the multitude of weight loss supplements you need to take to achieve your dream body …..(but you can't eat solid food).

Diets in general, coupled with the use of supplements in many of these diets all have one thing in common, and that is a restriction in calories. By restricting calories you will of course lose weight, but for how long and what impact will this actually have on your body. Any weight loss program and diet is pretty simple, your body needs to be in a calorie deficit – meaning you need to consume less and burn off more calories that your body actually needs.

Many so called ‘diets’ will not be sustainable for a long duration of time, and many put your body under a lot of stress and misery both mentally ( your brain actually uses around 50% of your calories to function) and physically (you need calories to move). These faddy diets may make the supplier a lot of money but won't do anything for you long term! Most of the weight you will lose from these so called ‘Beach Body’ and ‘Bikini’ diets will come in the form of water. The majority of these diets will restrict your calories to a value that is not sustainable and advise you to cut out carbohydrates completely so will give you a quick fix but will not help you to achieve a healthy long term goal.

My advice to people is to make sure your eating and eating little and often. Yes I said little and often, 4-5 small healthy meals and snacks a day, Consuming a good quality protein, complex carbohydrates and a good source of fat... after all why would you want to consume fatty foods that are going to contribute to health problems later in life (e.g heart disease, strokes etc), you need to look after your body. The way I look at it, you are fuelling your body with nutrients and energy for it to do whatever you decide to put it through!

Say your daily calorie intake to maintain your body functioning properly (e.g digestion, temperature regulation) is 2000, but you are restricting your intake to 1200 calories, and you exercise on the stepper until you have burned 600 kcals, you naturally think you have lost alot of weight due to the amount of calories you’ve burned. HOWEVER, what actually happens is your body thinks ‘Oh my god’ this is a real struggle, I need to turn off anything I don't really need to be using to conserve energy and save my energy (calories), therefore over time your body starts to reserve energy and goes into starvation mode!

When we restrict calories our body slows down and starts to look for other energy sources, therefore starts to break down muscle for fuel especially if you aren't eating enough protein. When you gradually start to eat ‘normally’ again you put the weight back on because you have slowed down your metabolic rate and broken down muscle, therefore your body will not burn calories at the rate that it should. Your body composition and shape is worse than before because you will have lost muscle mass (which means your metabolism would have been quicker before, and you will find you put weight easier).

To work out how many calories a person needs daily, we need to work out their basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is the amount of energy you burn in a resting state. To be able to carry out day to day activities efficiently, your body needs to consume more than this and two factors contribute to this figure.

The thermic effect of food (TEF), which refers to how much energy the body uses to digest and breakdown the food you eat. Eating more protein actually takes a lot more energy to break it down so you burn calories doing this, and it will also keep you feeling fuller for longer. The other factor is thermic effect of activity (TEA) which is basically how active you are either doing daily tasks or working out.

Lots of different factors can influence these numbers including gender, age, current weight, height, day to day activities etc. Government guidelines recommend the average female adult requires 2000 kcals a day and male adults 2500 kcals. Obviously these are recommendations, and in order to lose weight you need to be in a calorie defect. I recommend to lose weight sensibly, you should be looking at decreasing your calories by around 500 a day, this is through both eating healthy and being more active. If you still are not losing weight or seeing results then look at reducing calories by another 250kcals. Do not go on drastic weight loss diets as your body can not cope with massive decrease in calories. The answer is simply a balance between eating healthily, learning healthy eating habits, and exercising regularly, incorporating some form of resistance training. #lifestyle

In our next article we will look at the importance of eating 5 meals a day to boost your metabolism.

If you would like tailored exercise plans, calorie recommendations and help with healthy eating habits based on your individual metabolic rate, and needs, then get in touch with Build a Body. Check out our Instagram and Facebook pages @buildabodyfitnesspt

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