SUMMER is just around the corner, which will undoubtedly tempt many towards a strict diet.

But a nutritionist has warned you exactly why you shouldn’t turn to a quick fix for weight loss.


Trying to shave inches off your waist too quickly is a bad idea, expert warnsCredit: Alamy

Experts often tell us that “diets don’t work”.

Phoebe Liebling, a nutritional therapist and clinical director, says that depriving yourself of the foods you like and then enjoying them after the diet is over is both mentally and physically damaging.

And she thinks crash diets are actually fueling the UK’s obesity problem, rather than solving it.

“The statistics say it all: in the UK, 28% of our population is currently obese and a further 36% are overweight,” he says.

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Restricting calories and suddenly increasing exercise can help you lose weight before heading to the beach this summer.

And you may feel great, but for how long and at what price?

The sagging problem

What most people don’t realize when embarking on a sudden weight loss plan is that they will end up burning more muscle than fat.

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“If someone goes on a crash diet, they will see rapid weight loss because they will lose water and lean muscle mass,” explains Phoebe.

“Physically you can’t get rid of body fat that fast; it takes between ten and fourteen days to get rid of the fat cells.”

With less muscle, you are at risk for a number of problems.

“A strict diet will make your weight go down on the scale, but from an appearance perspective, you probably won’t look the way you want,” says Phoebe.

“That’s because muscle is volumetrically smaller than fat, and we’re attracted to it! Fat is lighter but takes up more space comparatively.”

But the main problem is that losing lean muscle mass, while retaining fat, “makes your body metabolically less efficient.”

Muscle works harder to burn energy from the food we eat.

That means it keeps metabolism high and our bodies lean.

“Your muscles are always working, which means you have to work less to maintain your weight,” says Phoebe.

“Fat sits there, doesn’t use energy, and actually produces hormones that distort hunger signals (making you hungrier).”

The rebound effect

All of this is related to a long-term problem of regaining weight loss.

“[Due to] muscle loss, even if you were to go back to your original eating habits, you won’t burn energy like you did before the diet,” explains Phoebe.

“This is why yo-yoers find that they gain weight progressively with repeated diet cycles and also find it harder to switch each time.”

When the body loses a drastic amount of weight, its instinct is to gain it back, as much as possible and more.

Phoebe says that most people will gain more body fat from repeated crash diets because “the body stores extra fat to protect itself against future ‘famine’.”

It’s why so many of us have gone on a diet only to find that we weigh a lot more than we did before we started.

“If someone goes on a crash diet for, say, a week, the return to their original weight is basically a reflection of the fact that they’re eating again,” says Phoebe.

“The ‘weight loss’ was simply the removal of water and contents from the colon.

“If they go longer [than a week] and then they go back to normal, it’s because when they start eating again, their body quickly stores more fat because it feels like they’ve been hungry.”

In addition to this, Phoebe says that an “intensely low-calorie, near-starvation diet compromises immunity, sleep, and mood balance.”

Studies show that feeling tired or cranky can work against a weight loss regimen by causing more food cravings.

What to do instead?

If your goal is to lose weight, there are more sustainable ways to achieve it than an annual summer diet.

Instead of starving yourself in an “uphill battle,” Phoebe recommends the following rules so that each meal leaves you feeling “fully satisfied”:

  • 25-30g of protein
  • Two handfuls of stringy vegetables (not just salad, but foods like carrots, broccoli, and cabbage)
  • A slow-burning carbohydrate, such as whole-grain bread (one slice), 1/2 cup brown rice, or whole-grain pasta (cooked)
  • A serving of healthy fat (1/4 avocado, a handful of nuts/olives, a teaspoon of nut butter/tahini/olive oil, a tablespoon of yogurt),

“Eat like this two or three times a day, leaving adequate spaces between your meals, and make sure you drink 1.5-2 liters of pure water (adjust to your body weight + activity level), your body will start to function as you want . a,” says Phoebe.

He also advises against restricting treats, as this can set up a poor relationship with food.

“From my clinical experience, no matter what it is, if you make it a ‘shouldn’t have,’ then you’ll fall back on it, and probably have too much of it, in case you need an emotional/energetic crutch at the same time. some point.”

Then there’s exercise, which Phoebe recommends doing throughout the day.

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“Burst exercise is much more conducive to weight loss than a morning workout followed by eight hours of sitting still,” she says.

“Walking uphill is one of the best forms of activity for weight loss, as is weight training.”

Phoebe says that cardio exercises, like running or biking, don’t help with fat loss as well as weight lifting or resistance training.

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