The pros and cons of dieting


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Every week there is a new diet and weight loss, nutrition and diets remain popular across all media outlets. Yet there are also plenty of health professionals who aggressively argue against dieting. So the question is should you diet at all? Here are some of the pros and cons of dieting so you can make an informed decision on whether dieting is right for you.

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Pros

A diet gives us structure

Whether we like it or not, we all follow a diet. Your diet may be packed with take away meals and coffee but it is still a diet. Dietary habits tend to form the basis of any one person’s diet and as such if these habits become healthy ones, so too our diet becomes healthy overall. Human beings benefit from structure and healthy habits and as such committing to a lifestyle that is built around healthy habits will naturally create a healthy diet. It is approaching dieting from a restrictive, strict approach that is the issue when it comes to diets, not diets in general. 

Any diet will work if we stick to it

Whether your preference is Paleo, 5:2 or vegetarian, the majority of diets, with the exception of strict juice fasts or not eating altogether will generally give good results. The issue for the average human is that we choose diets we do not like and as such are not compliant long term. If you find a diet that you can follow and stick too most of the time, without feeling restricted you will be on your way to long term weight control. 

There are many different diets

Ranging from eating a lot to eating a little; eliminating food groups or not, or being strict or not, there are so many diets the key is finding the one that suits you long term. In addition you can always see a dietitian who will develop an individualised diet for you, to get both the results you are wanting, via a plan that suits your food preferences and lifestyle. 

Many of us are too fat and need to lose weight 

Australians in general are not an overall healthy bunch and gradual weight gain in our 20’s and 30’s tends to lead to significant weight issues for 60% of us in our 40’s and 50’s. Many of us need to lose weight for our health and well-being. As such many of us need some type of dietary intervention that supports weight loss. Intuitive eating is a nice concept but it does not necessarily lead to weight loss on the scales the same way calorie control and structured eating does. 

Cons

Strict diets are not sustainable

When most of us think of diets we think of strict regimes that may deliver results initially but are rarely sustainable. It is for this reason that so many diets have coped a bad rap and the mere idea of starting a new diet is enough for most of us to feeling restricted and fall off the wagon before we have really given it a go. Indeed long term data suggests that few if any ‘strict’ diets work long term.

They can play havoc with our minds

In general the idea of ‘dieting’ results in cognitive restriction, which in turn results in the brain focusing on the foods we should not be eating which in turn fuels the diet – binge cycle. It is for this reason that if a ‘diet’ is to work, it needs to not be physically or mentally restrictive. 

Dieting can do metabolic damage

While strict regimes that slash calories, carbs and result in relatively quick weight loss, the issue metabolically is that while some of the weight loss is fat mass, it will also be muscle mass. As muscle is the tissue that actually burns calories, the less of it we have, the lower our metabolic rate will be. This somewhat explains why individuals are able to lose large amounts of weight following a strict regime once or twice but over time these results are difficult to replicate as metabolic rate is reduced and we are able to eat far fewer calories than we once did. 

You do not need a strict diet to lose weight

While human beings like to feel like they are being pure and virtuous following a strict diet the reality is that you can still lose weight, and keep it off without a strict diet. You simply need dietary structure which is a very different thing to a ‘diet’ so why put yourself through gruelling, restrictive regimes when you do not have to?

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