This post about diet advice is probably going to disappoint you the most. Even so, if you are a yo-yo dieter or come from a family who has experienced disordered eating, you may relate to this. I know I certainly do.
As a young, active teen, I was always playing sports and ate basically anything I wanted. I came from a healthy family, no known health conditions, and we all ate probably more than we needed to. Still, we followed a very balanced diet of Carbs, Protein, and Fat. My brother and I were really active and could get away with drinking a Venti Frappuccino from Starbucks or a 12″ sub. No doubt the exercise helped, but in the end, I believe genetics kept us fit up until our mid-20s.
Now that I’m nearing the end of my 20s, I understand what everyone means when they say that everything goes downhill after 30. Ok, I’m overexaggerating. I have, however, noticed that I can’t eat the same things. In fact, I’ve actually become gluten-sensitive and lactose-intolerant. Maybe these sensitivities have always been around and I haven’t noticed, but I’m pretty sure this is something that has built up over time and is now affecting my everyday life. We live in a time of gluten-free pizza and lactose-free cheese, so I’m not complaining.
I’ve also written some other blogs about the worst Nutrition, Supplement, and Beauty advice, so be sure to check those out afterward if you haven’t already!
1. You should try an elimination diet to lose weight
There are many reasons to try an elimination diet. Weight loss is not one of them. That being said, eliminating a bunch of foods from your diet may automatically mean you are eating fewer calories, which could potentially lead to weight loss. What makes an elimination diet so great is that it is NOT a long-term diet, it’s meant to help you learn more about your body and its needs, and can leave you feeling like you’ve just detoxed your body and have a fresh start (both body and mind!).
If you have food sensitivities, you may be experiencing a slew of unwanted symptoms such as ADD, bloating, brain fog, diarrhea, Depression, pain, obesity, headaches, and more. These issues affect the gut but can show up all over your body in the form of migraines, chronic pain, eczema, and other rashes, and brain fog. Sometimes, you get used to feeling these symptoms and you simply go about your day but understand that a few weeks of an elimination diet could make a huge difference that will make you never want to go back to the way you were living.
Some of the foods that cause the most sensitivities are gluten, dairy, eggs, sweeteners, and soy.
You may feel worse before you feel better, though. Elimination diets involve a rapid and dramatic change. You’re basically taking out the foods that you were used to indulging in and going cold-turkey! This is especially true for those of us, myself included, who are addicted to caffeine, sugar, and highly-processed foods. It’s recommended that you ween yourself off before you start an elimination diet, especially if you need to be productive and get things done!
If you feel like you’d like to try an elimination diet, here are some that you could test out.
- The Whole Foods elimination diet: Here, you’d be eliminating highly-processed foods, including those with food colorings, sugar alcohols, MSG, and sulfites. It’s pretty restrictive but completely possible!
- Eliminate 1 food category: Eliminate 1 food that you know bothers you. Try that for 3 weeks then reintroduce it into your diet to see how you feel.
- Eliminate up to 4 foods: This one is great for those of us who have an idea of the foods that bother them. You can eliminate up to 4 foods that may cause problems and note down how you feel after a few weeks. You may choose to completely eliminate these from your life if you feel they don’t do you any good!
- The Full elimination diet: This is a pretty restrictive diet, as you will be eliminating many types of legumes, grains, nuts, meat, fruits, and veggies.
- FODMAP elimination diet: probably the toughest, FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides, And Polyols, and is a popular choice (I should say option) for those with IBS. FODMAPs are carbohydrate fibers that are not fully absorbed in the small intestine and can cause gas, distension, pain, diarrhea, or constipation.
All of these diets are restrictive in their own way, so it’s recommended that you speak to a Doctor or Naturopath if you plan on trying any of these out. Again, these are not weight-loss protocols. This is a diet to find out your body’s sensitivities and then hopefully start a reintroduction phase of some of the foods that were bothering you in the past.
2. Detox teas work
This one is the most disappointing for me to have to write about. I don’t feel like I should have to debunk this myth, but I’m going to. Unfortunately, the messages that these brands are spreading about their Detox Teas working for weight-loss are extremely dangerous and just straight-up FALSE.
Not only are these dangerous for your body, but they also don’t help with weight loss long-term and can certainly damage your mental health. It’s hard to see through the lies when they’re being fed to us by celebrities like the Kardashians, Cardi B, and Amber Rose (who promoted it while pregnant!!), but it’s important for the truth to come out. These teas do not work. And here’s why.
Detox teas claim to do reduce bloating, support metabolism, help maintain a healthy immune system, boost your energy, and detoxify your system. However, the cons far outweigh the pros. They’re considered supplements in the eyes of the law, and they aren’t regulated by the FDA. They contain ingredients like cassia, senna, and Chamaecrista – three “natural plants” that are used in laxatives. By excreting out all your food, you are likely not absorbing much of the nutrients. Any weight you lose is likely water weight and eliminates a majority of your electrolytes. Unfortunately, these electrolytes are important for muscle and nerve function, leading to muscle cramps or cardiac arrest, depending on how long you are using this tea.
In conclusion, if you have a functioning gut, liver, and kidneys, your body is detoxifying itself constantly. Your body knows how to get rid of things it doesn’t need and create enzymes in your stomach and intestine to digest and absorb nutrients that you do need. These teas don’t make the process go any faster. Detox teas do not boost your metabolism. The best way to boost your metabolism is to workout, which requires ZERO amounts of tea! Consistent workouts can lead to a leaner body mass, more muscle, and a more stable metabolism long-term.
In my opinion, these teas are simply poop-inducing herbs in over-priced packaging. We do not know the long-term ramifications of taking teas like this, even if only for a few weeks. At best, they make you poop, and at worst, they could lead to extreme mineral and electrolyte deficiencies, and a higher risk of liver damage rather than liver cleansing.
3. Eating carbs or fats makes you gain weight
If this were true, we’d only be able to eat protein!
If you ingest more calories than you burn, you are likely to gain weight. However, there is some research out there that says that too much fat could be worse for your waist. Dietary fat requires the least energy to digest and it gets stored with 90-95% efficiency, compared to 75-85% efficiency for carbs. When you eat carbs, your body can burn them for energy, store them as glycogen, burn them off as heat, or turn them into fat (in that order). Technically, if you overeat carbs as your main source of calories, the excess might not translate as fat gain.
However, when you eat fat, your body only has two options: burn it for energy (if carbs or protein are not available) or store it as body fat. If you overeat fat as your main source of calories, even for just one day, the excess translates as fat gain. So, unfortunately, I can’t squash this myth entirely.
Fat is also calorie-dense, at 9 calories per gram. Protein and carbs are only 4 calories per gram. On top of the higher calorie-count, it turns out fat’s high caloric density makes it less satiating than its opposition – protein and carbs have a low caloric density and a higher fiber and water content, making them more satiating. Keep in mind that every person is different, and just because some people don’t find high-fat foods satiating, does not mean that others cannot.
So if you’re trying to lose weight, is it best to go on a low-fat diet?
A 12-month study called DIETFITS found that a healthy low-carb diet and a healthy-low-fat diet led to similar weight changes*. They determined that the differences in weight-loss between groups were not much different, however, the differences between individuals in each group mattered more. I love this study because I tend to think of fad diets as lasting a month or 2. This study followed its participants for a year, which is a major lifestyle change! Each participant was fed by the researchers, ensuring that each diet had different amounts of fat and carbs but the same amount of protein and calories. There were certainly some limitations, as food intake was not controlled, diets were self-reported, and the diets varied widely. Even Ketogenic diets were included, which means that very little carbs and protein were ingested by some.
In conclusion, you can lose weight similarly through low-carb or low-fat interventions, but the real trick is to simply reduce your intake of calories!
4. Calories in vs calories out is all that matters when it comes to weight loss
Sure, if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you can expect some amount of weight loss! Whether you eat Oreos or bananas, the calories from these two types of carbs are broken down the same way. It’s still not completely ruled out as to whether the calories we put in our body (or don’t put in our body) are what make us lose weight or whether our hormones play a role in this. Hormones could play a role if you’ve got an imbalance, insulin resistance, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or other health problems that could affect your metabolism.
There are so many factors that could influence the energy we put in our bodies (in food) and the energy that we put out (in exercise, or even sitting!). Unfortunately, even if we do track our food, it may not always be accurate. Take a calorie calculator for example. These apps aren’t built to give you an accurate estimation of your energy needs, nor can they see how much you are actually eating. Unless you measure and weigh your food, you’re likely not getting the most out of these apps or tools. They provide an output based on averages and can be off by as much as 20-30% in normal healthy people. And that’s simply the amount of energy you put out!
Keep in mind that even if you could account for all the food you consume, you don’t know for sure how much of that you can absorb and use for energy. We actually absorb more calories from fiber-rich foods than from nuts and seeds! Depending on our own individual gut, we all absorb calories differently. Lastly, depending on how you prepare your food, your body could absorb the calories differently, such as a smoothie vs a salad vs soup. You could have the same ingredients in all 3 of those meals, but your body (and mind) may like some more than others and may be able to use more nutrients in one versus another.
On top of that, let’s throw in some other limiting factors. Sleep, stress, exercise, quality of food, macros, the timing of meals/snacks, nutritional deficiencies, and more are all factors in your healthy diet journey. These will all play a huge role in whether or not you can lose weight and keep it off.
A diet may seem like the best choice when it comes to weight loss. Quick fixes are easy and lead to quick results (sometimes), but are sure to lead to disappointment down the line. Find your “WHY” and really understand why you’re trying to lose weight (or insert another goal in there). It’s important to understand what you’re working for and why you want it so bad. Do you want it badly enough to maintain a specific diet long-term? Is it realistic? Is it healthy and safe? Use the resources you’ve got access to and feel free to drop a question or comment below! I’m happy to answer any questions I see pop up.
Chelsea has been active most of her life, which led her to become a Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor for the past 7 years. Health and Fitness are not solely dependent on movement, though, and with that understanding, she addresses her client’s other needs, such as diet, mindfulness, and stress management.
When she is not training clients or teaching Yoga, she is finding new activities that keep her mind and body active, such as rock climbing, hiking, listening to podcasts, or playing Board Games with friends. She is constantly working towards finding natural solutions to live as long as possible, inclusive Yoga for all body types, and aiming to find mindfulness in everything she does.