The Failure of Diets

The Failure of Diets
In this episode of Lifestyle Matters, we discuss tools to use when choosing a diet and what a weight loss plateau is.
 
Over the upcoming weeks, we will be reviewing the various diets that are out there from a medical perspective.
 
The purpose of today's blog is to introduce how beneficial diets can be to our lives when chosen correctly. However, the first dilemma most face is: "How do I choose the right diet?!!" We hear you; it really is quite overwhelming to find that there are over 100 diets out there! So many of these diets are 'in trend' and promoted all over social media. For example, just because the Ornish diet worked well for Bill Clinton, it does not necessarily mean it will work for all.
 
So, how do we choose a diet? The most important factor is sustainability. Some can follow a rigorous calorie restricted diet to lose weight, but this is rarely sustainable.


Other factors that we should look at when choosing a diet so that it is sustainable includes:

  • Cultural factors – it can be hard to make a change if rice / pasta is a staple in our diet
  • Social and family support – it is always easier when our social circle is supportive of our choices
  • Lifestyle - e.g. work type / hours which can impact our ability to meal prep thus requiring us to become more creative
  • Budget – making smart choices when buying fresh foods as some can be more expensive
  • Underlying medical conditions - may restrict or advocate certain foods Nutrigenomics
When we follow a diet, calorie restriction is only inevitable which then results in weight loss. However, a weight loss plateau can occur over 6-12 months. One of the potential causes for this is the reduction of our basal metabolic rate when we reduce our calorie consumption. A 10% reduction in calorie intake can result in up to a reduction of about 12 % in basal metabolic rate! This happens as our bodies adapt to the reduced calorie intake.
 
So, if we continue to consume the same number of calories with a reduced basal metabolic rate, our weight will naturally remain static or increase. Many people tend to perceive this stagnation or increase in weight as a failure on their part which is incorrect. This phase can be overcome with some simple changes and a positive mindset which include:
  • Increase or change exercise intensity / style
  • Increase Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis e.g. park the car further from the shops, take the stairs instead of the lift etc.)
  • Make a caloric reduction in diet
  • Increase water consumption
  • Re- look at our stress level
  • Ensure we get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep
There are many studies demonstrating the benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet for our health. Furthermore, processed red meat has also been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organisation. Red meat is a Group 2a carcinogen which means it probably increases the chances of cancer in general especially bowel cancer.
 

As GP Lifestyle Medicine Practitioners, we advocate eating whole foods that are predominantly plant-based, for a variety of health and environmental reasons.

Author: Dr Saveena Nithiananthan
MBBS, FRACGP, IBLM
Savena is a General Practitioner, Medical Educator and member of the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine