By now, in case you’ve been reading my blog, at least these 3 things should have been learned and digested.

1 – Protein is the most important macronutrient
2 – Carbs ain’t the enemy and shouldn’t be avoided, especially if you train
3 – Fats are essential for health and many other important factors

Then why do people promote “magic diets"?

Yes, I’m talking about the so called “fad diets”, the ones which promote the fastest results with the least amount of effort given. Which strangely enough, is exactly what all people seek. We live in an era where everything has to be optimized, and where everything has to give the best results with the tiniest, minimal given effort possible, and obviously, within the smallest time frame.

People want to start dieting and wake up the next day with a shredded six pack.

Nobody cares about the lifestyle, nobody wants to understand how this actually works. All people want is to have a summer beach-ready body to show off: willing to make sacrifices ONLY in the short term. So what do they get themselves into? Extreme diets. Low carb diets. Whatever promotes the fastest results.

And mind you, they work ! …. Until they don’t.

1) Low carb diets. (Keto, or any other form)

In a nutshell, these type of diets have one goal, which is to get the dieter into ketosis, which is a metabolic state in which some of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood, in contrast to a state of glycolysis in which blood glucose provides energy.

You’re now a so called “fat burning machine”, “Yo, this diet teaches your body to burn fat!”, “..It increases your metabolism by eating more fat and burning more fat..”, “..Dude, pour some coconut oil in your coffee in the morning to burn even more fat, you’ll feel amazing!”…

Come on now. Of course your body burns fat if… IF YOU EAT MORE FAT.

That’s because your body burns what it’s given: give it more carbs it will burn more carbs, give it more fats it will burn more fats. But yeah, what buys people into going Keto is the fast initial weight loss. That is what keeps them motivated at the beginning.

But when I decrease my carbohydrate intake my weight goes down very fast..

Well, that statement actually holds truth. Weight loss goes down very fast… however, weight loss does NOT mean fat loss.

As a matter of fact, that happens because when less carbohydrate are eaten, more water weight is lost. Each gram of carbohydrate attachs 2.4-3g of water with it, therefore reducing their total intake to a very small quantity makes your body use all the stored carbohydrate (glycogen) for energy, making the water weight come off with them… boom that result is weight loss!

You feel less bloated, you’re glycogen depleted and flat as fuck, you’ve got no energy, but you’re happier because the scale is telling you you’re down 5-10 pounds in a week, wow!

Too bad you’re basically the exact same if we’re looking at your bodyfat mass, which should actually be what you would wanna get rid off in the first place. You now look even worse in case you lifted, because your muscles have shrunk because of the glycogen loss… but.. yeah, all you care is weight loss, right?

What happens next? Your weight loss start slowing down because you’ve lost the water weight, and now it’s actually up to the caloric intake & energy output to make you lose bodyfat, but you don’t know that. You believe it’s the magic of “low carb” that drives fat loss.

The worst part is that you now you fear carbs because you think they’re the cause of your weight gain, but at the same time you start craving them because you’ve deprived yourself from them for so long, so you start slacking and this is what happens on a typical week, calorically-wise:

Results:

The whole diet and fat loss journey starts becoming unsustainable because not related to your habitual way of eating, so you try to be “good” during the week and then binge on the weekends, throwing your progress out of the window.. but yeah, you still think it works because of the results you’ve got in the SHORT TERM. And because you’re too attached to the fast initial results, you think that’s the best way of dieting for you. 

Mind you, there are cases where low-carb/Ketogenic diets would make sense: PCOS women [1,2] in order to improve Insulin sensitivity along with strengh training, Type 2 Diabetes (in the short term), treatment for Epilepsy[3]and treatment of Glioma (brain tumor)[4] .

HOWEVER, if you’re a healthy person and you’ve got none of that stuff, there’s no reason to get into that shit if that’s not what you ENJOY doing, if it doesn’t come natural to you, if you love carbs and if all you want is to get a six pack abs and live a healthy lifestyle.

Quite infact, if the total calories you’re consuming are the same you were consuming prior to dieting or actually more, there’s no way you’re going to lose bodyfat, and you might end up gaining instead. If you think you can eat how much you want and lose fat you’re completely off track: sure, you’d burn FAT for energy, but it’s going to be DIETARY FAT (what you’re eating) and not BODY FAT (the wiggly parts of your body). You can talk about how magic low carb is how much you want, body fat loss is a matter of energy input VS output, where the output has to be greater than the input one.

2) The “I just want to lose weight fast” diet:

Tiny portions of salad maybe a slice of apple, and the smallest piece of meat. Some veggies again, and some good fresh air to snack on here and there. Classic woman’s approach on dieting.

Basically a very low carb, very low fat, very low protein diet. Overall very little amount of calories. Weight crushes, very fast results, they’re happy with what they’re looking at but they feel like complete s**t. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this works.
Eating small amounts of food gets you small VERY fast, but again, not sustainable in the long term and most importantly, NOT healthy because not controlled.

1 day, 2 days, 3 days. OK, I’ve been “good” for 3 days so I “D E S E R V E” that jar of Nutella, a pizza, 2 pints of ice cream while snacking on a bag of cookies.

“Damn it, I messed up!”, so you diet for another 2-3 days, feel bad again and yeah, that cheat meal has to happen again. The cycle never ends and the results never come. One day compared to 7 isn’t much of a deal right? Well, let’s put it into perspective:

– You have a maintenance of 2000 calories.
– You eat 800cal the first day.
– 750calories the second day.
– 1,300 calories the third day.
– 2,000 calories on the fourth,
– Then drop down to 400 on the fifth to make up for it..
– Suddenly the weekend comes up so you go all in and eat 3,400 on saturday and 4,100 on sunday.

 

800 + 750 + 1,300 + 2,000 + 400 + 3,400 + 4,100 = 12,750calories/week

Which if divided by 7, results in an average of 1821 calories per day, aka -179 calories of caloric deficit from a TDEE of 2000/day.

If a deficit of 3,500 calories equals 1lb (0.5kg) of fat loss, this would mean that it would take you more than 1 month (around 6 to 7 weeks) to lose just 1kg of fat, which wouldn’t even probably show on the scale because of the water retention caused by dieting itself, stressing over it, menstrual cycle and everything else. And you know you’re attached to what the scale says, so after “trying your best” and not getting any results, you’re even more neurotic about it now. Of course this is just an example, but not too far from some people’s reality.

Anyway, besides all the mind-f**k and effort related to this dieting behavior, and besides the fact that those numbers are just an example and they could even be bigger ones, you would never be able to sustain this way of dieting, especially if all the effort you’re trying to put in is worth JUST 1kg of fat in more than one month. And that’s why you give up.
People know and feel that the diet doesn’t work but they don’t want to give it up because of how good the fast results make them feel in the first days. In the SHORT TERM.

And that’s how yo-yo dieting starts. Zero long term results, guilt kicks in, no idea what to do, so they continue doing what they feel confortable with, developing a habit, until they can’t take it no more, binge-eat and start all over again. You’re putting out so much effort, it’s draining you, and yet you’re getting such a little reward that makes it not worth it, so you end up quitting and blaming yourself for not being able to sustain an unsustainable way of dieting.

 

3) “Drink X product and lose weight (typically meal replacements like shakes)

The idea is that you basically continue eating the way you do, replacing one of your main meals with a shake, which seems to be filled with all the mineral, vitamins, healthy stuff picked in the most unknown places of the world, that you need to consume in order to become a superhero.

Basically an overpriced, low-caloric protein shake. Buy you don’t know it.

So you end up eating 2 main meals + 1-ish, which is very low in calories, which indirectly contributes to redure your total amount of calories for the day, which is rich in protein (the most satiating macronutrient) which results in fat & weight loss.

Damn it, it works!

Of course: you’re paying overpriced stuff to make you eat less..
But yeah, you do that until you can’t fucking replace your lunch or dinner with a shake anymore because you want to chew and eat god damn food. So this is what happens in the long term, you’re good for a few days until you feel the need to cheat on your diet. Again, not sustainable for most people, so they end up re-gaining everything back and getting to their old habits. When they wanna get back to dieting, they now know they gotta start replacing one of their meals with a shake, because that WORKED for them, and it worked FAST, even though they didn’t like it. They now think they aren’t made to diet, so they think they’re doomed to be fat for ever. Again, because accustomed to the results in the SHORT TERM.

4) Intermittent Fasting (IF)

I know it’s not a diet but most people believe it is.

Now, before you IF magic-believers, know that I’m a huuuuge advocate of this approach and that I’ve personally been IF’ing for 7 years now. However, most people don’t understand HOW it works, and besides the fact that I’m going to make dedicated posts to this approach alone, let’s see a few misconceptions that make people believe fasting is magic.

The IF idea is to basically divide the day into a fasting window and an eating window. In a given 24 hour day time, you fast for around 14-20 hours a day (sleeping time included) and you eat for the rest of the hours, which lasts for 10-4 hours, you decide.

How does it work for fat loss? It makes people indirectly lose fat, because eating all the daily calories in a shorter amount of time makes you feel full faster, so it can make you eat less; plus it allows you to have bigger meals which make you feel more satisfied and likely to continue dieting. This contributes to making you eat TOTAL less calories for the day, which in the long term would result in fat,muscle, and weight loss (if specific macronutrients aren’t controlled).

How other people believe it works: you fast for 14-20 hours then it’s binge fest. Well fasting is magic so your stomach is now a black hole, right? You can eat whatever you want in the quantities you want. You’ve fasted for so long.. you “D E S E R V E” to eat all the food!

Of course, it’s still calories in VS calories out, so, if within that eating window you end up eating too much you won’t lose fat.

5) Paleo Diet/Clean eating

“Eat clean, get lean”. Avoid grains, dairy & legumes and everything that does not come from nature. This is what was preached a few years ago and a few people still believe this.

I believe it went from “eat clean, get lean” to “eat clean and develop an eating disorder”, huh? [5]

Nobody argues the fact that non-processed/natural food is rich of micro-nutrients and everything else, yeah. However, they DON’T make you lose fat, if not consumed in quantities that result lower, when quantified and compared to you energy expenditure.

It’s not like you can eat infinite quantities of it and say “well, since I’m eating healthy, atleast I can eat how much I want.” Which is what everyone believes.  Calories IN vs calories OUT is still the rule, plus you now start craving junk food and end up binging at the end of the week because you just can’t keep up with that way of dieting, but you try to make up for it the next days.

6) Drink fit tea to lose weight.

Come on, is this still a thing in 2018 ?

I won’t even say why it doesn’t work. Instead, I want you to prove me that it works if you believe in it. Yeah you can look for all the research in the world, you won’t find anything that will sustain your bias.

The ONLY way drinking green tea (or any tea) works for fat loss is if it helps you eat less during the day. If it blunts your appetite, then it can indirectly contribute to consuming less calories during the day. It’s not like it has some special fat loss properties like marketers want you to believe. That’s it.

Take home message:

When you read this, you understand that what every single “diet” lacks is LONG TERM ADHERENCE and LONG TERM RESULTS, and if they work it is not because they’re magic, but because they indirectly make you eat less.

None of any diet has the “power” to be sustainable for everyone because of how unique everybody’s lifestyle & culture differs, and this is why in my opinion, only WE can decide how to structure our diets for it to be sustainable in the long run.

Does any of these diets work for you? Do it. Nobody is advocating the opposite. I just want to point out that most people jump into “dieting” without thinking whether they actually can do it or not, and they continue regardless, even if they’re hating it. Mainstream diets will never die because there’s always going to be somebody who’ll want to stay ignorant and look for short term results. People who want everything NOW, who aren’t looking for sustainability in the long term are always going to try anything, fail and give up. The message of this post is to start looking at nutrition with “another eye”. Ask yourself this question: “Can I do this for a long period of time?” If the answer is no, your diet has failed you already.

Eugen

Eugen Loki

Author Eugen Loki

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