The vast majority of people go absolutely hell-for-leather when embarking on a new dieting regime to lose fat. They will go head long into a dieting regime which is totally unsustainable in the long-term, both physiologically and psychologically.
From what I have seen as in my experience as a personal trainer and sport scientist, humans who attempt to lose fat through diet can usually be categorized into one of three types or “species” of dieter with each of the 3 “species” being progressively unhealthier than the last. For the purposes of this argument let’s refer to these “species” as the following: 1. The Low-Fatter, 2. The Fad-Flopper, 3. The Wannabe-Pigeon.
1. The Low Fatter (Latin animal name: Lowus-fatteramus)
This “species” of dieter is usually characterised by a consummate fear of fat because of the common held (and debunk) myth that eating fat makes you ‘fat’. This species is terrified that even the thought of melting some Kerrygold real butter over their vegetables (YUM!) will make them pile on the weight. This species can usually be seen eating foods as exciting as plain porridge and egg whites for breakfast, followed by various combinations of chicken, brown rice and broccoli for the rest of the day. This species can also be seen using low fat “butter” (YUCK!) in barely visible practically translucent amounts. They go low fat, low salt, low calorie, low taste! They are the ‘Low-Fatter’ often spotted in the ‘Weight-Watchers’ section of the food aisle
2. The Fad-Flopper (Latin animal name: Fadius-Flopperus)
This “species” of dieter is the second most unhealthy and is characterized by an insatiable desire to discover the “secret of weight loss”. They buy and read magazines and books detailing the next big thing. They crave simplicity and live in the hope that they will succeed with the next diet they try. They fall hook-line-and-sinker for obscene diets based around single foods such as grapefruit, cabbages, maple syrup. Another example of this ludicrous type of diet is the one in which you replace your lunch and dinner with a minute serving of a certain breakfast cereal, let’s call it “Farfromspecial-K”.
They also often fall for marketing based diets that involve taking stupidly expensive supplements as meal replacements in place of actual foods. These weight loss supplements are lauded as apparently “essential” to losing weight and achieving the body you desire. I do not know about you but I watch a lot of documentaries and do not think I have ever seen a tribesman eating an ancestral diet with a beer belly!
3. The Wannabe-Pigeon (Latin animal name: Wannabeosus-Pigeonius)
This “species” is by far the unhealthiest of the three. This species is characterized by eating miniscule amounts of food very infrequently (if ever!). This “species” is usually seen consuming coffee oftentimes while smoking in attempts to suppress its appetite. This “species” can however sometimes be seen eating sugary foods simply because their body is so starved its brain ferociously demands some quick release energy to ward off the signs of imminent death!
Okay, so enough with the “species” joke… let’s get serious. Why do these diets gain traction and support if they are so ludicrous?
These diets gain support and traction in the dieting and weight loss community for one simple reason; they work but ONLY in the short term. Let me explain.
Upon embarking on any of these three approaches there is an initial weight loss. The amount of weight lost will depend on how severe the calorie restriction is and also how much they person has to lose. There is a weight loss due quite simply to being in a severe calorie deficit with each of the 3 “species” being more calorie restrictive than the last. Your body gets shocked by this severe deficit and makes up for this by releasing fat from your fat tissue and using it for energy.
This works for a while and there is some initial success but then progress comes to a halt. This window of successful weight loss lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks and depends on the person and the severity of the calorie deficit.
What causes this sudden halt in weight loss is based off a little bit of loose evolutionary theory so bear with me.
Modern day humans (Homo Sapiens) first appeared some 200,000 years ago having evolved from many preceding ape-type species, going from walking on all-fours to an upright (biepedal) position of walking on two legs to eventually the modern humans we are today. Our evolutionary ancestors were in existence several millions of years so we are obviously designed to survive or I would not be writing this article.
We have inbuilt evolutionary survival mechanisms to keep us alive during periods where food is scarce such as winter time, famine, or simply whenever the latest Persian-Viking-Communist horde Led by Napoleon Khan The Great rocked up, took our food and destroyed our farmland for the craic!
I will not go into what these survival-mechanisms on a physiological level actually are but it can be summed up in one simplified phrase; slowed metabolism.
Your body is designed to survive, so in periods of calorie deficiency it will simply slow your metabolism to match the incoming calorie intake. The reason some initial weight loss occurs is because it takes your body a while to figure out what is going on but when it does it slams the breaks on fat loss due to a fear of death by starvation.
So how DO I lose fat when I need to?
The alternative is using an approach that is gradual and maintainable that doesn’t shock your body. It uses real not processed foods and does not involve starving your body into survival mode by becoming one of the 3 aforementioned “species” of dieter.
At ACLAÍ Health and Performance we take a scientific and common-sense approach to weight loss. Our approach is not about how much weight you can lose it 2 weeks using some idiotic crash diet or magic potion supplement, then piling it all back on and then some as soon as you’re finished your program with us. Our system employs a scientific approach by losing weight gradually and keeping it off through engraining habits that you can actually maintain. A common sense scientific approach doesn’t sound very sexy or radical but it works in the LONG-term.. and wouldn’t you prefer to be healthy for life and not just for that ‘wedding in June’??
“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” – Neil Degrasse Tyson.
This article is by ACLAÍ Coach Ciarán O Regan
Check out some of our amazing success stories and see how the ACLAÍ system of training and nutrition has helped our clients finally put an end to ‘yo-yoing’! And if you think you’re ready to ditch the diets and make a real step towards your health and fitness goals then why not sign up for our Summer Shape-Up personal training program.. Submit a consultation request below and we’ll be back to you in a jiffy!