Posted on 07-20-2016
As a former football player and shot putter, the word diet was never in my vernacular. The only diet that I ever did was a "See-Food" diet, I see food, I eat it. I was always concerned with getting bigger and stronger, so therefore I was always eating as much as I wanted to. Now as I approach my mid-thirties and am no longer a competitive athlete, I'm trying to implement healthy habits in my life. Not to mention, as a health practitioner I'm trying to practice what I preach and be a role model for my patients. I have always loved to workout and lift weights. Exercise has never been hard for me. However, healthy eating has always been a challenge, but it's a challenge worth tackling. I'm far from being an expert in this area, but I hope to share with you some of the things that I have learned so far along the way on my journey to a healthier version of myself.
- Biology Is Not Your Friend
In case you didn't know this, your body doesn't want you to lose weight. Our bodies were made to survive, which means that we hold on to energy stores, (ie. fat) at all cost. Never before in human history have we as a species been concerned with losing weight and fitting into a certain mold of what society says we should look like. Our ancestors were focused on making sure they had enough food to survive and over hundreds and thousands of years our bodies have adapted to holding onto fat stores and they have become really good at it.
When you go on a low-calorie diet, your body immediately goes into survival mode. Your adrenal glands are going to secret a hormone called cortisol that is going to hold onto fat stores, thus thwarting your weight loss efforts. The next thing that is going to happen when you go on your low-calorie diet is that your body is going to slow down your metabolism, which in turn will decrease your need for calories and further complicate your weight loss goals.
The key to tricking your biology and losing weight is two-fold. First, you have to eat 5-7 healthy, small portions throughout the day every 2-3 hours. This is going to ensure that your metabolism is firing on all cylinders and burning more calories. Next, you have to make sure that you are exercising regularly. I recommend trying HIIT, High-Intensity Interval Training. This style of training is short, (20-30 min) and intense. The benefits to this type of training are that it is going to boost your bodies natural production of growth hormone which has many health benefits including increased metabolism, usage of fat stores and promotes lean muscle mass.
- Fad Diets Are Not Realistic
The reason why most fad diets don't work is because they're not realistic, and your weight loss goals may not be either. As I mentioned in the previous segment, our bodies are working against us to survive and maintain a certain weight. If you have a small amount of weight that you are trying to lose, like 10-20 lbs., then you can easily achieve that in a short period of time. However, if you are trying to lose 100 lbs. or more, then you can't realistically expect to eat salad and water for the many months that it's going to take to lose that much weight. You will eventually get tired of your restrictive fad diet and return to your old eating habits and so will the weight that you lost.
If you have a lot of weight to lose, then I recommend tackling your weight loss goals in chunks of 5-10% of your body weight. Remember, biology is working against you, so you have to trick it. Instead of trying to lose 100 lbs. all at once, have a goal to lose 10-20 lbs. and then maintain that weight loss for several months before you move onto the next 10-20 lbs. This approach will help to reset what's called the "Set Point." This is the weight that your body strives to stay at. No one wants to lose weight just to gain it all back, so you have to realize that a fad diet is not the answer to your weight loss goals. You have to be committed to making life-long changes in your habits and lifestyle if you truly want to succeed.
- Fad Diets Are Not Sustainable
Most Fad Diets involve some form of restriction. Whether it's drastically restricting calories, or cutting out entire food groups, these diets are not sustainable in the long run. As mentioned earlier, eventually you will grow tired of this and go back to your regular eating habits. This is when a lot of people gain the weight back, which can make them feel like a failure and that they may never be able to lose weight. This cannot be further from the truth. We all have the ability to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. The key to success when you want to lose weight is to slowly implement healthy habits into your daily life over a period of time. These habits need to be things that you will enjoy so that you won't get burnt out. Small habits practiced daily over a period of time lead to big success.
- Your Diet is Bad For Your Health
In case you didn't know, your body is a well-oiled machine with millions of moving parts. Your body requires over 90 essential nutrients that it cannot produce on its own and you must get from your diet. Most fad diets require that you drastically reduce your calories, or cut out entire food groups. Not only is this not sustainable, but can potentially be dangerous and bad for your overall health. One of the problems with a really low-calorie diet is that the body tends to use lean muscle mass for energy and hold onto fat stores. This is an example of unhealthy weight loss. Many people quit the diet when they get tired of starving themselves and return to their old eating habits. This results putting most of the weight back on in the form of body fat.
- What is Your WHY?
Let's be real here, most dieting sucks and isn't fun at all. And this is why most people aren't successful at losing weight. They are only fixated on a short-term goal of reaching a certain number on the scale. I'm here to tell you that if you truly want to lose weight for the long haul and be successful, your "WHY" has to be greater. Why do you want to lose weight? Is it just to call yourself a size 4, or is it to live a healthier and longer life. Is it to get out of pain so you can play with your kids and enjoy life? What is your "WHY"? You have to be so motivated that you're going to succeed at all cost and when your WHY is strong enough, you will be too.
Yours in health, Dr. Brian C. Burnett
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