News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Obstacles to diet and weight loss

The weight loss desire of our nation is insatiable, and despite our purest intentions, many health and fitness professionals are still getting it wrong, wondering “Why can’t these people see how simple it is?” Or “why can’t they give up the late-night binges of ice cream? Don’t they see all those extra calories?”

What goes wrong?

The Depletion-Binge- Depletion Cycle: This is most common with highly-motivated dieters. They stick to a diet, no carbs, no sugar, no this or that. Their body gets depleted, screaming for enough calories to function, yet their advisory begins to resist after a life of indulgence. By the end of the day, it can go on no longer. Out comes the ice cream, the wine, the brownies. Out the window go all the diet restrictions

Sound familiar? The reason why this happens is because the body requires a minimum amount of nutrients, and calories to exist. Our dieter is well below the threshold — skipping breakfast and eating celery and peanut butter for lunch. Handfuls of snacks throughout the day.

Better to make sure that calories total is not below 20 percent of maintenance. This means that if a person needs 2,400 calories a day, they can aim for around 2,000. This is not a rapid six-week weight loss miracle of social media glory, but they will be left with ego intact and keep the train rolling well beyond six weeks. Dieting is about simple changes over the long haul.

Over-exercising: A person starts a diet, and begins exercising much more than usual at the same time. Here is the problem: training with intention requires increased metabolism, muscle recovery, and regeneration, which all require more energy. This isn’t to say one can’t diet and exercise in harmony, but the level at which one does so will be compromised. A person training to run a marathon and lose 20 pounds will have some choices to make. Either they get smarter about exercise fueling and recovery (beneficial to performance) or they ease the training to very simple parameters (allowing them to lower calories for weight loss).

If exercise is more for activity and general fitness there is no issue — but know the difference between training and diet for the best results.

Mindless Snacking: Coffee for breakfast, a sandwich with hummus and veggies at lunch, and a salad for dinner. You’re lucky to get 1,000 calories there (about half of a sensible diet). What’s that? No weight loss? Look deeper. Handfuls of peanuts between calls? A bowl of chips beside you while watching TV? A spoonful of almond butter here and there? There’s around 1,000 calories of less-than-noticeable eating. This will surely lead to the weight-loss plateau many are lamenting.

Over-analyzing: Articles about fad diets, avoiding gluten, or toxic dairy convolute simple nutrition. This pressures a person to conform to trends around minutiae before establishing the basics. Does anyone know a person who may only buy organic, yet 50 percent of their meals consist frozen prepared meals? Or the person who scrutinizes toxins in certain foods yet barrages their body with boozy drinks? “Stay away from fast food,” they say; yet the freezer full of “Trader Jeff’s” frozen spinach and cheese enchiladas is righteous because, certainly a major corporate food producer has its customers’ health and wellness above it’s profits, unlike fast food chains.

Weight gain is a creep of excess that manifests over time; the palette adapts to salty, sugary, and sweet treats. To undo this, a person needs to decrease calories, and improve the nutritional quality. This means scaling back, while still nourishing the body, and getting one’s mind wrapped around the tenants of simple nutrition. Eat simple foods, with the least amount of processing, and enjoy the tastes and flavors without worry. When whole grains and complex carbs, lean meat, veggies and fruits make up 80 percent of the foods consumed, you have a good start.


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