“I need to start Dieting” – it is always the first question that comes to mind when you plans to lose a couple of pounds. “Ah! My dress doesn’t fit anymore – let me start skipping breakfast from tomorrow”. “Hey, I think I am gaining weight – Time to go on a crash diet”. However, things are not as simple. There are several misconceptions or myths regarding weight loss, which I have covered in my previous blog “Weight Loss Myths – why they don’t work”. Here, we are going to see how we can change our eating habits to reduce body fat. 

Eating less causes fat loss – myth busted 

This is one of the most common weight loss myths out there. People think, “Hey, if I eat less, my body will burn the excess energy stored as fat”. Well, if you eat less, your body will use up its energy reserve. However, the question is – will your body burn the extra fat or not?

Unfortunately, the answer is No. Bummer, right? You will lose a certain amount of weight after you start your crash diet course, maybe 4-5, even 10 pounds. Don’t be fooled. You are not losing your body fat. You are losing your precious muscles. Losing muscles reduces your metabolism and that just makes losing weight even harder.

My friend went of a crash diet and lost 10 pounds

As I have mentioned before, crash diets seem to work on a short-term basis. Have you ever followed up on a person, who has lost significant weight after going on a crash diet? If you did, you would be able to find out that they end up gaining back that lost weight, along with a few extra pounds as soon as they stop the diet.

Now, the question is: Why?

Think of this in terms of your finances. You have a job; you are earning some amount of money every month. From those earnings, you are spending a certain amount of money on yourself (Basic everyday stuff). As for the rest of the money (if any), you are storing it in your bank.

The same goes for your body and calories. You are taking in some calories through food and spending it in maintaining normal body functions. Now, if you have any excess calories (hopefully not), your body will store it in the form of fat.

Now let us say, you have been suddenly demoted, and your earning becomes half of what it was before. The money you are earning will not be enough to sustain your lifestyle. You start taking out money from your saving and start spending less amount of money on yourself.

Again, coming back to us, when we suddenly decrease our calorie intake, our body is deprived of the energy needed to function normally (metabolism). So, it starts using up energy from the energy reserve (muscle and fat). This will reduce your fat, but also your metabolism.

Now, when you get your old position back and start earning what you earned before – what is the first thing you will do? You will start pouring money into your bank account to replenish the lost savings. The same goes for our body. As soon as we resume a normal diet, our body starts storing all the energy as fat to replenish our fat reserve. In this process, our body stores some extra fat in preparation for the next time there is a crisis.

Thus, all your hard work is lost. Unless you can maintain a crash diet for the rest of your life (which is dangerous and even life threatening), crash diets will do more harm than good in the long run. You might be able to slip into that dream dress before prom, but afterwards, you will end up fatter than before.

So, what do I do then?

As far as diet is concerned, it always better to eat healthy, not less. Most people make the mistake of only taking in calories into account. A 1500 Calorie can consist of Fruits, Vegetables, lean meat, eggs, milk and bread; on the other hand, it can also consist of soda, burger and chips. Do you think both the diets will have the same effect, even though their calorie value is same? Obviously not. There is a huge difference.

Firstly, stop all sorts on processed food. They are never good for your health. They contain added sugar and preservatives. Go fresh as much as possible.

Sodas and other soft drinks are a big no. They contain insane amounts of sugar. Sugar is readily absorbed by our body and stored as fat (We don’ want that, right?). Even processed fruit juices contain added sugar. Instead, make them at home. It will be healthier.

Try eating food fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk and milk products. Make fruit and vegetable salads. Look for recipes online. Some of them are delicious. Add lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts to your diet. Go for food that are low in saturated fats, Trans-fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. Lastly, stay within your daily calorie needs.

Do I need to stop eating all the foods I love? 

Cutting back calories is thousand times harder for foodies. So what can you do? For starters, reduce the portions of your favourite, but calorie rich foods. Secondly, you can replace certain ingredients to make them more healthy (less calories).

For example, if you love macaroni and cheese, you can use non-fat milk, fat-free butter, and light cream cheese instead of whole milk, butter, and full-fat cheese. You can even add a bit of veggies like fresh tomatoes and spinach. This will reduce the calories by around 30 – 40%.

Just like that, you can find more healthy, less-calorie recipes for your favourite foods. You can make your taste buds happy and lose weight at the same time. 

Lastly, never forget, diet cannot do anything alone. You need to exercise, be active along with a proper diet to reduce your weight.