What NOT to do when trying to lose weight?

Diet Pills/Skinny Teas

Clever advertising and celebrity endorsements may be enticing you to believe that there really is a quick fix to shedding a few pounds, but do not be fooled.

There is not enough credible scientific evidence supporting the weight loss claims that these products offer. However, you can count on some unpleasant side effects and future health repercussions that may come with them. 

Diet pills can often contain caffeine and green tea extract. Some studies show some effects of these but only if your caffeine consumption is already low < 300mg/day (2 cups of coffee and 2 cups of tea, and don’t forget about energy drinks, Coca Cola and chocolate, which also typically contain caffeine!). As well as this, when we say some effects we are talking about 0.8kg-1.1kg over a number of weeks.[1]

Another study looking at green tea extract vs placebo showed that a group of participants taking placebo actually lost more weight. [2]

As for caffeine , if your consumption is already pretty high, adding diet pills with caffeine in them a) won’t give you any effect and b) you may end up suffering caffeine side effects such as headaches, jitteriness, insomnia, anxiety, GI distress such as diarrhoea, stomach cramps, irritability and so on.

Skinny teas often contain senna, which is a natural laxative. Prolonged use of this can cause long term damage to your gut lining, severe dehydration and nutrient malabsorption.

*(unsolicited advice alert)* – save yourself some money and spend them on a personal trainer, that’s what I did in the beginning of my journey and it changed my life forever! (thanks to Tracy @Brainbox Coaching & Fitness)

Meal Replacements

Relying on just meal replacements for weeks/months is definitely a bad idea, as they are not only costly but contain either zero or very low fibre content. You will quickly feel the effects of that in the bathroom…

Such products may also contain low amounts of vitamins and minerals so do check out the ingredients to get the best blend, if that’s what you think you want to try. 

And remember, although you can lose weight quickly, you will likely regain it all back soon after. [3]

Drinking excessive amount of water

Water is crucial to sustain our bodily functions, which include immunity and acts as first line of defence.  Making sure we drink enough water throughout the day will help avoid dehydration, which can manifest itself in headaches, dizziness, loss of concentration and coordination. Water can also help with managing hunger and can be a great help before reaching out for a snack.

However, drinking an insane amount of water or going on ‘water fast’ is completely unnecessary when it comes to weight loss. There’s no actual evidence how much water we need, you can ignore those formulas based on your weight telling you how many litres you should be drinking. 

Studies that do exist show inconclusive and insignificant results [4] 

Cutting out Food Groups/Keto

I personally don’t fully support diets that eliminate food groups. Ketogenic diet is a great example, which supposedly helps you turn into a fat burning machine by cutting out all carbs. The mechanism behind this diet is based on your body starting to utilise fat stores as energy, converting them into ketones. Ketones then become the main source of energy for your brain other vital processes in your body. 

In theory and practice this can work but it’s very restrictive and can cause issues with your digestive system due to lack of fibre in the diet.

Ketogenic diet is very high fat, moderate protein and very low in carbs. It pains me to see that people turn everything up side down in their lives to follow this diet, when there are so many other methods that would not require such a rigid path. 

Taking Ketones

You might think that we’ve finally outsmarted our bodies and can trick them into a state of ketosis by just supplementing with Ketones exogenously. Unfortunately not! Taking ketones and then having a positive result on a test strip (like a pregnancy test) does not warrant that you are actually in Ketosis. The test just shows that you have ketones in your urine but they won’t start burning fat for you, unless you are in a natural calorie deficit from consuming less energy.

So it’s fair to say that this is another fad…please understand this before buying them!  

Becoming a Vegetarian or Vegan 

Unless you are approaching this from an ethical point of view, going vegan or vegetarian will not guarantee you looser trousers. 

Drastically changing your diet will be hard on you physically and mentally. You may find yourself craving certain things and overeating as a result. Plant based diets are heavy on starchy carbohydrates and you will likely see the scales number go up due to the extra liquid carbs are attracting (3g of water per 1g of carbohydrate).

It can be dangerous restricting your diet so much without proper planning and a consultation with a professional as you may end up suffering with deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals (B vitamins, Protein, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Omega 3, Vitamin D). 

If you were under the impression that following a vegan/vegetarian diet was healthy and healthy would warrant weight loss  – you’ve been fooled. Many vegetarian and especially specific vegan convenient products on supermarket shelves are highly processed and often contain a poor amount of key nutrients such as protein.

I definitely would not want to discourage you from ever pursuing becoming a vegetarian or a vegan, if this is your goal but I would first encourage you to shift towards a more plant based/centred eating approach, keeping your usual protein and dairy sources for awhile. With time, you will become more comfortable and skilled preparing meals from scratch using a wide range of vegetables, pulses and substituting meat/dairy sources with healthy alternatives. Alternating meat free days is also a fun approach to getting used shifting focus from meat as the centre of all your dishes. 

Rigid dieting/following diet plans.

I’ve had clients expecting me to give them a meal plan to follow; to just tell them what to eat and what not to eat. This is why I now specifically state on my website that I do not offer meal plans.

Having spent enough time studying weight management from a psychological perspective, I learned that that adherence is key! If you can’t stick to a certain way of eating for a prolonged period of time, you will hate it and will fall off the wagon eventually, probably scarred emotionally and carrying more pounds than you did before. 

There should not be this concept of ‘on plan’/ ‘off plan’ because it creates an unhealthy boundary between foods that are supposedly good or bad for you, which in turn mirrors the way you feel about yourself and choices you make. 

I always recommend to just sit down and have a chat with yourself, to be honest and realistic. Try asking yourself these questions:

What was the reason behind my weight gain? 

Is it something I can work on myself to do I need to seek support to overcome past or present hurdles in my life? 

Find your inner WHY you want to lose the weight and start envisaging how you might want to go about it, not just from the dieting perspective. 

Assess your trigger foods and situations that make you turn to certain foods for comfort. 

What events in the past have snowballed into an unhealthy pattern of eating? 

What foods do you like and don’t like? Are there any foods you would like to try or eat more often?

Are there are social aspects of your life you are forgetting to include in your plan? (do you spend your Sundays with family or you eat a family dinner every night when everyone gets home so you don’t get excluded from it just because your meal plan says ‘you’re skipping dinner today or enjoy your shake!’. 

Social and family support is vital when working on changing your lifestyle and habits, try not to exclude yourself from those around you and use ‘I’m on a diet’ excuse, unless you don’t like your family!

If you need help navigating this complicated world of dieting, feel free to get in touch and we can discuss a way forward for you.

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