Often it seems like in today’s first world society body image and how one is viewed is constantly called into question. This is usually caused by self doubt and feeling self conscious about the way one looks.
This is especially prevalent during this time of year, as the school year winds down and summer is just around the corner. When people are trying to get in shape to fit into a dress for prom or slimming down to get that “summer body” they desire so they can feel confident at the beach or pool.
Many of these people kick it into high gear and go on an extreme diets or exercise plans a few weeks before prom or before the start of swimsuit season. These people are actually wasting all of that effort because these extreme diets do way more harm than good.
The Biggest Loser is The Biggest Lie
Shows like The Biggest Loser seem like a great idea, and many people admire the amounts of weight these contestants are able to take off in the reality show. This admiration often times leads to people trying their own version of these diets for themselves because they would also like to lose significant amounts of weight.
However, shows like this reveal a phenomenon many people don’t account for: dropping pounds fast makes it almost impossible to stay thin in the long run. Dr. Kevin Hall did a study on 14 contestants from The Biggest Loser to find that 80 percent of the weight they had lost on the show was gained back after the cameras stopped rolling. In addition, the study also found that the contestants had dramatically slowed their metabolism by several hundred calories per day, after being on the show.
According to Dr. Hall, these diets cause an food energy deficit that leads to your body burning fat, but the body also then lowers its metabolism to offset that energy deficiency. This basically means you would have to keep dieting on that extreme plan just to maintain the weight loss.
Think Long Term
The point of a diet or exercise plan is to be able to stick to it for the long term, because no matter how successful it seems in the short term you will eventually fall off the wagon and gain all the weight, or more, back. And your long term metabolism will suffer the consequences making it even harder to lose weight in the future.
Don’t try to lose 10 pounds the week before prom, or start doing a difficult diet a couple of weeks before the pool opens because it will not last and the consequences of trying to will make it harder to reach your goals in the future.
Counting Calories is Crap
First of all, keeping track and counting the amount of calories of every thing that goes into your mouth that goes into your mouth is a hassle to keep track of to begin with. So it’s not exactly the most fun way to be spending your time.
And most importantly, it doesn’t even work. Nutrition labels are a lot more inaccurate than you might expect (source), especially when it comes to calorie counting. So when you make sure you have exactly 1,200 calories per day your really just in the ballpark no matter how accurate and exact you think you are being.
People need to stop counting and start learning. It has a much greater impact on one’s overall health when they eat the proper kinds of calories and find the balance that works best for them, counting is a wasted effort, according to endocrinologist, researcher, author, and professor at Harvard Medical School, David Ludwig MD (source). The food pyramid you learned about in 2nd grade is a great example of this. And it’s not impossible to follow in the long run. (picture source)
Losing weight or getting into shape does not mean obsessing over calories or going on some crazy cutback diet. Going on a moderate diet, something you can stick to, is the key. Also realizing there is so much more that goes into whether a food is the right choice for you than a single part of the nutrition label, whether it’s calories, fat, or whatever.
Extreme diets and obsessively counting calories are not so different: neither work.