|Why Diets Don’t Work|
by Aaron M. Potts, ISSA CFT, YFT
One of the biggest scams ever successfully pulled on the American public is – somewhat appropriately – a 4-letter word. That word is, of course, Diet. By now you have seen advertisements for more diets than you can easily remember, and have also most likely seen an article or television show debunking some of those diets. Unfortunately, the art of shooting holes through the credibility of a diet plan is normally done by ANOTHER diet company, solely for the purpose of getting you to use their product instead. Well, this article has nothing to sell, nor really anything to gain, save the knowledge that hopefully the reader – that’s you – will put down the Diet Madness Menu, and get a real world point of view on why diets don’t work, and what you can do about it.
Eating, the Lost Art
If you are considering a diet, or have in the past, your primary motivation was most likely to lose weight. What if I was to tell you that in order to lose weight, you actually need to eat MORE than you have in the past? You would probably shake your head at that crazy idea, and think that it was some new fad that could in no way assist you in your weight loss goals. Of course, the fact that every diet you’ve ever heard of was at one point “some new fad” would probably never even cross your mind. Nonetheless, the fact remains that most people do need to eat more than they presently are in order to lose weight, but the trick comes in eating the right kinds of foods, in the right ratios of nutrients, and at the right times of day. Sound tricky? Perhaps, but I assure you, it is really quite simple. However, the purpose of this article is not to inform you of the benefits of eating, but merely to let you know that eating is indeed a very effective way to lose excess bodyweight, and to explain how diets keep that from happening.
Stating the Obvious
Although most people do not think of the “latest diet” in these terms, hopefully the following question will make you consider what is pretty obvious if you stop to think about it. If the new “Last Diet You’ll Ever Need” was really that good at making you melt away pounds while sitting on the couch munching “Carbo Craze Chips” or was even remotely effective at burning off your spare tire while inhaling the sweet scents of “Aerospace’s Aromatic Air Baubles”, then why isn’t everyone already thin??
Seriously – think about it. Every time you hear about the latest diet or the most up to date exercise device that only takes 20 minutes per day, they always say that you will never need another system! The advertised system – no matter how logical or even outlandish as it may seem – is always touted at being better than ever, and the last system you will ever need. Well, if that were true, don’t you think that the manufacturer of that system would not only become wealthier than anyone in history, but would also become famous as the person who FINALLY solved the obesity problem in our world? Don’t you think that person could also afford to advertise their product during prime time on TV, instead of late at night? Don’t you think that system would become known throughout the world – throughout history itself – as a turning point in human development?
So, I’ll ask you the same question again: If the solution is already out there, why do we need to keep coming up with new solutions?? The answer is, of course, very simple – these systems don’t work, and the human populace is simply looking for a non-existent quick fix to getting rid of too many late night excursions to the local burger joint, or to the fact they should have taken stock in beer while they were in college. Then what does work? Human physiology.
Metabolism is defined as the rate at which your body processes food. In other words, how fast your body burns calories. The faster your metabolism, the more food you can eat without gaining weight. How do you control your metabolism? By eating a nutrient-dense meal every 3 to 3 ½ hours. This practice “stokes your internal furnace”, for lack of a better analogy. Think of your body as an old-style locomotive that had coal shoveled into the combustion chamber one shovel at a time. If you didn’t shovel in coal fast enough, the locomotive would slow down, and your body is no different. If you don’t eat often enough, your metabolism slows down and you don’t burn through calories very quickly. In addition, not only does your rate of calorie consumption go down, but your body starts storing almost everything that you do eat as bodyfat! So, in essence, every time you starve yourself in your honest effort to “stick to your diet”, you are actually slowing down your metabolism as well as making your body more efficient at building padding for you to sit on at baseball games.
“I don’t care” you say. You believe that in order to lose weight you need to starve. Okay, that’s wrong, but I’ll explain why that thinking is flawed. Your body needs energy so you can live through any given day. The amount of energy that you need is determined by your Basal Metabolic Rate, and by your activity level for that day. For most people, this amounts to between 1,500 and 2,500 calories per day. Well, if your calorie-restricted diet doesn’t allow you that many calories, your body will find a way to survive anyway. It does this by breaking down your muscle tissue and using it for energy. “So what?” you say. You don’t care, as long as the scale says you are losing weight, right?
What if I told you that the ONLY place on your body that you can burn bodyfat for fuel is your muscles? What if I told you that the more muscle tissue you lose on a calorie-restricted diet, the fewer calories you can eat after the muscle loss? What if I told you that after losing 20 lbs on a calorie-restricted diet, your total bodyfat level will have dropped very little, if at all? What if I told you that by using muscle mass for energy, you have literally crippled your body’s ability to burn bodyfat in the future, and that by the laws of Nature (which we can’t change, by the way), you will absolutely put the weight back on, and probably gain more weight than you ever had before?
If I told you all of that, would you still want to burn muscle tissue for energy while starving yourself to stick to your diet, paying $8 a bag for Carbo Chips, and $20 a session for Aromatic Air Baubles?
On the other hand, perhaps the laws of Nature don’t apply to you. In that case, be sure to tune in tonight – I believe the “Lose Weight While You Eat Butter Fried Bacon” diet is going to be featured on a new infomercial. It is, after all, The Last Diet You Will Ever Need!
Aaron M. Potts
ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Consultant.
Aaron’s Personal Training