WHAT REALLY HAPPENS TO YOUR HEALTH WHEN YOU RESTRICT YOUR DIET?

Restrictive diets have been the cultural norm for decades, but what actually happens to your body’s health when you deprive yourself of nourishment? Let’s take a closer look.


BY: MARISSA CAMPANELLA, RDN, LDN

We have heard of every restrictive diet – low carb, ketogenic, Weight Watchers, Atkins, low fat, fasting, juice cleanses…the list goes on and on. While all of these diet have different foods and rules, there are a couple of things they all have in common:

  1. There is limited scientific research to back them up.
  2. They have a set of rules to guide your eating behaviors.
  3. They are short-lived, and don’t contribute to long-term success.

So why do all these diets fail? Let’s break it all down:

EATING LESS

Skipping meals or decreasing the number of calories in your meals have bee linked to higher body fat storage. The brain and muscle’s demand for fuel (in other words, food!) can result in rebound eating, where you may binge on not-so-healthy sources of food. Not meeting your basic need of fuel will also cause poor attention span, irritability, and fatigue.

RESTRICTING CARBS

Cutting out your carbs means you’re losing out on your body’s preferred source of fuel, causing you to feel moody, tired, and fatigued. Again, your body will break down muscle and tissue to use for energy. Your body may also break down dietary protein which can cause an acid-base imbalance, resulting in increased risk of kidney issues. And if you’re unable to fight those physiological and psychological cravings for carbohydrates, you will likely overeat down the road when you get your hands on it.

CUTTING OUT MEAT

Going entirely meatless as a vegetarian or vegan may put you at risk for iron and B12 deficiencies. You will also notice that fullness after meals will not last as long, causing more opportunities of hunger between meals.

MEAL REPLACEMENT OR LIQUID DIET CLEANSE

Whether a low-calorie meal plan or juice cleanse, pre-packaged products means that you will not have the opportunity to learn the skills of portioning, cooking, or shopping for yourself.  That can be a detriment down the road when you no longer want to be on the diet plan, which are typically expensive. While your previously eating habits are replaced initially, they have not changed permanently.

FASTING

Most observed, immediate weight loss from any form of fasting is due to water loss and muscle mass decrease, while lowering metabolism and increasing body fat storage. This has the potential to be medically dangerous for some individuals, and can be a trigger for eating disorders or disordered eating.

The more sustainable way to stay healthy is to steer away from these different forms of restriction.

Rather, simply focus on nourishment of all delicious foods.

Adapted from the original article.

Marissa Campanella, RDN, LDN is a private practice Registered Dietitian based in Scranton, PA helping people find the balance between healthy and happy.  As a ‘food peace promoter’, Marissa specializes in helping those with food struggles and disordered eating in learning how to enjoy food while leaving guilt and self criticisms behind. Connect with Marissa at Thrive Nutrition. 

 

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