Let’s admit it! We all like to cheat! We would love to find a way not to go to work, but get the same salary, not to go to the gym, but be muscular, not to take care of our home but live in a clean and fresh-smelling place. And, of course, we would love to be able to eat anything, at any hour, and still be skinny. So we whine that we’re not as lucky as our friends, that we get fat just by smelling food, that the weight keeps accumulating despite the fact that we’re constantly hungry. But, truth be told, people who are fit work incredibly hard for it. They may not admit or even realize it or we may not be there to see it, but it is the reality. The battle for a fit healthy body is exactly that: a battle! You have to constantly be aware of how much you’re putting into your body versus how much you’re burning. On the bright side, this is probably the easiest time in history to count calories. They’re already written on the packaging and portion control is amazingly simple. That is, or course, if you count out the psychological factor and the power of cravings.
The myth of skinny people who can eat anything
Sure, the basal metabolic rate is not identical from one person to another. It can vary depending on your body size and shape, on the type of activity you’re doing but also you can be naturally advantaged or disadvantaged. To be fair, though, this can’t be used as an excuse either. Some people can indeed have a slightly higher metabolism, but it will usually be still within normal range. So, no, unless they suffer from a serious metabolic disorder (which is obviously, not to be envied), no one can eat anything, in whatever quantities, and remain slim.
Some people may seem to eat a lot because they either eat very slowly, they snack all the time but in very small quantities, they only have one important meal per day or they follow each big meal by a long period of fasting. Or maybe they’re extremely active, so they burn everything they eat. In any case, you should stop blaming your genes for your weight, because they’re most likely innocent.
Getting results fast can be addictive
Although there aren’t really any skinny superheroes among us, who can eat anything and still walk on the podium, it is unfortunately true that we can make nutritional mistakes that can slow down our metabolism. Yes, we’re talking about crash diets.
Most of us know that these diets presuppose depriving our bodies of essential nutrients, but even so, at first glance they still seem harmless. After all, how much damage can we do to our bodies in just a few days of extreme dieting? The short answer is: a lot! And that partially because there is a danger that extreme dieting can very quickly turn into a way of life. It may seem unintuitive that so many people feel that it’s easier to take these extreme measures and deal with hunger for a few days or even weeks in a row instead of making small changes in their diet and lifestyle every day. But it is the reality of our times and so is the fact that crash diets are becoming more and more popular. People simply do not have the patience or discipline to change their lifestyle and diet and then wait for their bodies to adjust naturally and lose weight gradually and steadily.
The dangers of crash diets cannot be ignored:
A higher risk of cardiovascular diseases
Drastically reducing your daily calorie intake can lead, over time, to cardiac atrophy and it deprives the body of potassium, magnesium, copper and sodium, which causes arrhythmias and can lower blood pressure below the normal limits. These repeated dilatations and contractions damage the blood vessels and increase the risk of atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases.
Leptin is a hormone that plays an important role in regulating appetite and metabolism. A sudden drop in weight causes a sudden drop in leptin levels, which leads to a slowed down metabolism, increased hunger, and the body begins to burn out muscle tissue in order to provide the necessary energy for the body to function. The moment a normal diet is resumed, the body will immediately start to store fat, while your body will no longer have the same muscle mass needed to burn calories, so weight gain will be quick and your body fat percentage will be higher than it was before you started the diet, although your daily calorie intake remained the same. That is to say that you will have to eat less and less and your body will have a higher and higher percentage of fat.
When your body enters starvation mode, it begins to use the glycogen deposits. But, along with glycogen, you’ll also lose water. This not only causes unhealthy and unstainable weight loss – by losing water instead of fat, but also dehydration.
Loss of vitamins and nutrients
Losing a large amount of weight in a very short period of time causes a loss of vitamins and nutrients that are essential for the body to function properly. This can lead to cardiovascular problems, weakening of the immune system, muscle cramps, loss of bone mass and muscle mass, skin, hair and nail damage, but also to depression and anxiety.
Specialists say that a healthy weight loss rate means losing a maximum of two pounds (three, at the most, if you’ve started from a very high body weight) per week. Anything above this affects your body and can have serious repercussions on your health.
Low calorie dieting increases cortisol
A study conducted in 2010 suggested that restricting one’s caloric intake causes damage to psychological wellbeing and biological functioning and it increases the level of cortisol (the „stress hormone”).
3 friendly diets, suited for most modern women
There are hundreds of diets to choose from, but most of them come with disadvantages. They couldn’t be much easier and the results might surprise you.
The yogurt diet
We all watched Terry Crews in Brooklyn Nine-Nine and thought: “that does not look like a guy who eats yogurt!” And yet, “Terry loves his yogurt!” The truth is that yogurt is one of the best foods for diets because it is filling, healthy, very rich in proteins (especially the Greek yogurt and the low-fat varieties) and poor in calories.
Now, it is true that no diet that is based on just one type of food can be called healthy. But if you were to choose just one food to always go to in a diet, that would be yogurt. Yogurt is rich in vitamins and minerals – potassium, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, vitamin B5, vitamin B 2, proteins and probiotics that stimulate the immune system and protect your body against diseases. Because it helps hydrate your body and it contains both proteins and carbs, yogurt also makes an excellent snack for before training.
We’re talking about a hypo-caloric diet, you shouldn’t worry too much about the fat content of the yogurts you’re having, but they should contain around 2% fat. The rules of this diet are very simple: replace as many of your meals and snacks with yogurt. Keep this diet for no longer than 10 days and make sure that, besides the yogurt, you also eat some other healthy foods – lean meat, fresh fruits and veggies, whole grain cereals.
The 1500 calories diet
How much weight you can lose with this diet depends on your current weight, your lifestyle, your height and body shape. This is a reinterpretation of the 1000 calories per day diet, one that takes into consideration the main concern of the nutritionists regarding the original version: unless they are under strict medical supervision, no woman should eat less that 1200 calories per day and no man should eat less than 1500 calories each day. Otherwise, your body cannot possibly get all the nutrients it needs, so you’ll feel fatigued, unable to work out and your metabolism will slow down. Also, thirsty for energy, your body will start to burn muscles.
The 1500 calories diet is based on the same concept as the 1000 calories diet – reducing the number of calories that you introduce into your body daily – but proposes a slightly different system, one that does not put your health or wellbeing in danger. The rules of this diet are extremely simple: you will consume at least 1200 calories per day and a maximum of 1500, depending on how much weight you want to loose and how fast, but also depending on your body’s needs, your height and your current weight. That 300 calorie margin per day can also be considered a loophole for those moments when you feel you’re about to give up.
As you would expect, those 1200-1500 calories should come from healthy, fresh foods, rich in nutrients. And, actually, if you decide to go with this diet, you’ll see that soon enough you’ll feel the need yourself to introduce in your daily menu more fruits and veggies because they are low in calories, but makes you feel satiated. Ideally, your breakfast should have around 300-400 calories and your lunch and dinner around 500 calories each. If you’re creative enough to go even lower than that, you can, of course, also have some snacks in between.
Give up just one food!
When it comes to food, we all have a weakness. For me it may be chocolate, for you it might be donuts and for another person it can be beer. The nutritionists say that in most cases these foods bring 0 benefits for our body and health, but they significantly contribute to our weight. So be honest with yourself and try to identify what it is for you. Need help? The food or drink we’re talking about should have the following characteristics: 1. It significantly contributes (usually by a few hundreds) to the number of calories you have daily; 2. It doesn’t have any nutritional value; 3. It makes you feel guilty anytime you have it.
In most cases, it will be something sweet. But it can also be a fatty food or a greasy salty snack. Once you’ve identified it, eliminate it completely from your diet and, very important, do not replace it with anything else.