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Why diets don’t work in the long term, lifestyle changes do

For decades, diet conversations globally have ranged from the simple and straightforward to elaborate and convoluted, the latter sometimes even bordering on crazy. In today’s digital age, before you can say cheese, a new diet would have garnered a global following, with everyone from a layperson to experts swearing by its efficacy.

However, just a few weeks or months later, the same experts have moved on to another ‘miraculous’ weight-loss or diet program. That is what you get when you don’t follow science, just fads. Health though is not a fad. It is a lifestyle habit.

Amid all these fads, one cannot help but wonder if each of these programs is a sure-shot way to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle, why don’t they survive the test of time?

According to a study published in the BMJ, most diets help with weight loss and lower blood pressure in the first few months, but the desired effects don’t last. So, people keep returning to new fads. But fad diets can be damaging. They often lack essential nutrients and teach you nothing about healthy eating. Excessively restrictive diets also take pleasure out of eating and may lead to eating disorders, slow down your metabolism, causing more harm than good in the long run.

One of the reasons for crash diets to fail is because the body views dieting as a form of starvation. When you eat much below your desired energy intake for a long time, your metabolism slows down and tries to fight back. The hormones that regulate our hunger and satisfaction waver making it harder to sustain the diet and hence weight loss. Further, the idea of taking extreme steps such as quitting certain foods can often lead to one feeling low and disappointed. Sooner or later you bounce back to prior ‘unhealthy’ eating habits. And a few months later, you are trying another new weight loss diet.

No wonder that the diet and weight loss industry around the world is growing leaps and bounds from $192.2 billion in 2019, expected to be over $295 billion by 2027. However, more and more studies show that if you are truly interested in losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle you need a more sustainable plan than a fad diet. We must also understand the difference between weight loss and fat loss. Not all weight loss might be healthy, you might just be losing muscle or water weight due to crash dieting and doing copious amounts of cardio.

To lose fat, a few components are proven to work: these are eating slightly less than your energy requirements, having adequate protein intake to preserve muscle mass, and strength or resistance training. Doing this regularly, will slowly help manage your weight in a healthy manner, and also boost your metabolism and tone your body.

Consider making these small, incremental changes to your lifestyle to embrace a healthy relationship with food and, indeed, life. Suggested by Habbit CEO and Co-founder Dhruv Bhushan.

Make healthy eating a daily habit

It is important to be in tune with your specific needs, and not feel deprived. The same plan might now work for everyone. Nutrition need not be complicated, and crash diets are not sustainable. Don’t think about giving up the “bad” foods, instead focus on choosing foods that are holistic, nourishing, and pleasing for the palate. Don’t be taken in by jargon-filled technicalities on nutrients. Opt for easy to use, nutritious products.

Play with your food choices, mix and match ingredients. Health and taste can go hand in hand. Even foods that you crave or are ‘addicted to’, have a healthier alternative out there. Ensure a balanced diet of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables for vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Balance these with whole grains and healthy fats. Meet your daily protein intake, whether from foods, or supplements using natural proteins. This can’t be stressed enough since protein deficiency is one of the leading causes of lifestyle diseases, including obesity. Drink plenty of water. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).

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