by Tara Brunet, Training by Tara Brunet –
As a nutritionist and trainer, I’m well versed on the current dieting trends. I hear about them from clients while they are “succeeding” and then don’t hear about them again after they fall off the bandwagon. Personally, my entire model around food and wellness is all about “Intuitive Eating:” not restricting any foods, staying in touch with your body’s internal cues, and focusing on how you feel versus weight loss. I admit that every time I hear about a “new” (just re-packaged) diet I cringe.
Here’s how you know you are falling for something unsustainable and unrealistic. Ask yourself: can you do this for the rest of your life? If you can’t count points, restrict carbs or not eat for 16 hours a day, this is not going to work for you. 95% of all diets fail. Why are we continuously trying again and again thinking it is our fault they aren’t working? Keep this in mind: the dieting and weight loss industry is worth $66 billion and the more you fail, the more money they make. (PSA: It is not your fault the diet isn’t working).
Perhaps when I say diet you reply with “Oh no, it’s a lifestyle!” Like Weight Watchers™ current rebranding around their program. They claim it is a lifestyle to count the points of food, measure out servings and stay within your portion of points for each day. Not to mention treating exercise as a way to “increase points,” which completely takes the joy out of fitness and working to get stronger – not to “earn” more calories. You never need to earn the right to eat what you want to eat. This is not a lifestyle I want myself or my clients to live!
Then there is the Ketogenic phenomenon, which is Atkins coming back all over again. Restricting your carbohydrates to such an extremely low amount requires you to drastically reduce fruits and vegetables, and fill your plate with fats. While I agree fat is good for you, by forcing your body into ketosis you are asking for disaster and weight regain the minute you reintroduce carbohydrates! Plus, it creates fear around carbs, fruit and plentiful vegetables. Any diet that wants you to cut out such a major food group isn’t realistic. You will be able to follow it for a period of time, but every time you “fall off the keto wagon” I guarantee you will stay on it for shorter and shorter periods until you can’t stomach having another meal full of bacon and cheese. Next!
Then there is Intermittent Fasting, which has been around for a long time but recently resurged with the popularity of Bulletproof coffee and the Ketogenic diet. Intermittent Fasting can be done several different ways, but one of the popular types promotes a “five and two” approach where you only eat 500 calories two days a week, and normally on the other five days. This promotes binge eating and completely tuning out from your body’s physiological needs. You are ignoring hunger signals and just trying to “make it through the day” for those two low-calorie days, and then inevitably overeating on the other five. It’s further detaching from your internal guidance and teaching you to ignore our basic physiological cues! There is also a popular method where you fast for 16 hours a day, and eat only within an eight-hour window. This can be detrimental for women as it can lead to early onset menopause, metabolic disruption, binge eating and lost periods. I believe we have hunger and fullness signals for a reason – ignoring them in order to squeeze all your meals into a smaller window (and then feel lethargic and full) in the name of fat loss is not what I would recommend.
So, what is the “good” in this article, you may ask? I know that every single person reading this article is going to need something different than the next. We are all highly individualized and this remains true for our diet and exercise routine. What works for one person does not mean it will fit into your lifestyle, or have the same results for you. The reason I promote Intuitive Eating is because it takes away the external rules from people that don’t know what your body thrives on, and encourages you to look within yourself to figure that out.
You can find a scientific, peer-reviewed article boasting the benefits of any one of the diets mentioned above, but you need to take your power back. How does your body feel most energetic, clear and vibrant? What type of eating will reduce stress in your life and bring you joy? Your eating pattern should be one that you can continue with forever, one that doesn’t require “rules” from anyone else, and one that feels amazing for YOU.