The amazing Adele has lost weight. And whilst I absolutely applaud her, I am weary of her methods of limiting calories. You see I am "lived" on low calorie diets for most of my dieting life and got nowhere but hell.
In my life as a serial dieter, I too lost weight on low calorie diets. And at that period of my life, losing weight was the most important thing. I was young and wanted to fit into my skinny jeans, and that was all that mattered. Sad, but true.
What I also lost was periods, hair on my head (I gained hair on my legs), concentration and focus and the list goes on.
What I didn't know then was the huge impact my roller coaster of low calorie counting diets would have on my metabolism for the long term. But at 18, 21, 25 I lived for the moment, and as long as I lost weight I didn't care about the repercussions, despite my having few periods, thinning hair, lightheadedness and insomnia due to going to bed on an empty stomach.
Fast track to my late 30's and I finally realised the damage I had done to my metabolism.
The low calorie chronic dieting had taught my body's metabolism that food and calories were never a constant, and that when I ate it had to hold onto every last bit of those calories (as rolls of fat) because it had to save them for a rainy day when it wouldn't get much food.
This was the long-term effect of the low calorie, not to mention low fat (but that's another story) dieting on my metabolism.
Your body's number one function is always to keep you alive. Over thousands of years it has evolved incredibly clever internal mechanisms to help you stay alive when it feels you are in danger, like being starved or chased by a lion.
And while skipping a meal here or there is not a big issue, starving yourself of calories every single day for a long time will eventually catch up on you. You might not see it right away, but you will see it, make no mistake! It's karma baby, do your body harm and it will harm you right back.
Ok, maybe not karma, more like cause and effect, but you get what I'm saying.
That's what happened to me. After doing so much damage, it took me years of frustration and endless research to reset my metabolism and kick it back into gear.
And I don't want you, or Adele to go through that. Learn from my mistakes and avoid them at all costs.
Here are some of the effects of a low calorie diet:
INCREASED FAT STORAGE
When you starve your body of calories, your body interprets this as starvation, so it begins a carefully orchestrated chain of events. One of the most notable and obvious ones being to store any calories it consumes immediately as fat, particularly around the midsection, where it can access it when necessary.
This not only looks extremely unflattering, but it is also the most dangerous kind of fat, as it increases your visceral fat (fat stored around vital organs like the liver, pancreas and intestines) and your chances for insulin resistance and - further down the line - diabetes.
In an effort to conserve as many calories as possible, your body tells your metabolism to slow down. By ensuring your metabolism is minimal and burning very few calories, you hold onto whatever energy you have.
You also don't burn fat.
SHUTTING DOWN NON-VITAL PROCESSES
Every process of the body requires energy. But as your body doesn't have that energy to spend, it slows or even stops non-vital processes in a bid to save energy.
These non-vital processes include fertility, including menstruation, slowing digestion, eventually leading to chronic constipation, which in turn leads to a host of other problems.
Because you have limited energy, and the energy you do have has been locked up as fat, you struggle to stay awake.
Your brain is the biggest consumer of energy, and being awake uses more energy for your brain than being asleep. So you start to feel tired, super tired. All the time!
Keeping you warm requires an enormous amount of energy as well, especially if you live in cooler climates.
Your body can't afford to expend this energy to keep you warm, so you will start to feel much more sensitive to the cold.
All of these ailments of low calories diets are pretty somber and hardly pleasant.
What's more, the small wins of weight loss on a low calorie diet are short-lived and not sustainable. At some point, you will be forced to eat again, and when you do, your body will still be under the assumption that it needs to hold on to the energy, for fear of short supply.
Now tell me, is all of this worth it for fitting in your favourite jeans for like two seconds?
I mean, we're talking about drastically decreasing your quality of life and making your body sick - all for losing a few (or more) pounds that you'll eventually put back on because what you're doing is simply unsustainable in the long run.
And I get desperately wanting to lose weight. I really get that.
But it can definitely be done better!
If you feel that you need to lose weight, please don't assault your body by violating its intricate systems with low calorie diets. The gain is not worth the long-term effect it has on your body when you get older.
Instead, take it slow and start incorporating healthy habits into your lifestyle, and you will soon start reaping the benefits. It will definitely take longer than a heavily calorie-restricted diet, but all the results you'll get will be for life!
If you want to learn more about how you can lose weight healthily, book a free 15 minute discovery call, it is so much more attainable than you could ever imagine.
I hope it inspires you to finally start respecting your body and give it the love and care that it needs!