This is the first in a series of topics related to weight loss. In the quest for taking off unwanted pounds and inches, most people turn to a restrictive diet. There are many to choose from. But, there are consequences of restrictive diets other than the fact that they’re just hard to follow for any length of time. Consequences like missing important nutrients or suffering the negative effects on metabolism.

Most people assume that I have always been as slim as I am and that I don’t know what it’s like to feel unhappy because of excess weight. Unless people have known me throughout all my adult years, they would never guess that I have at times been as much as 25-30 pounds heavier than I am now. If you met me, you would recognize that this much extra weight would be a lot on my small, fine boned frame. When I was overweight, I was not happy with myself nor with the clothes I had to wear. I often felt down in the dumps because I felt dumpy, was scared I couldn’t get it off and keep it off – and I hated dieting!

Usually it took an “event” for me to go on a diet and make the commitment to stick with it. Take the year it was my 20 year high school reunion. I wanted to go and so the decision was made. I lived on a cabbage soup diet for weeks and worked out insanely – this girl wasn’t going to go see all the people I went to school with unless I was thin again! Years later, after I entered the work force, I came face-to-face with the morning ritual of coffee and donuts, working lunch meetings that someone else ordered and the on-going office bake-offs. The pounds crept back on and soon none of my wardrobe fit. I was faced with going shopping for yet another size UP! When it hit me that I needed a size 11, I said “NO WAY!” That night my husband and I started a new diet, a restrictive high protein, no carb diet. He was in hog’s heaven – no pun intended – and, we were enjoying platters of ribs, huge steaks, and many trips through In N’ Out Burgers for Double-Double protein wraps. The pounds disappeared quickly. We weren’t so happy, though, because in spite of feeling lighter, we didn’t feel good. We felt heavy. Our digestive systems were sluggish and my husband’s blood pressure went up. We quit. With a vengeance the pounds came back on and it didn’t take long before I was again 27 pounds over my ideal weight. Time for another restrictive diet, one that tracked points…at least I didn’t have to give up my coffee and donuts – they were cataloged at only five points – exactly the points I could eat for breakfast!

Eating a restrictive diet, whether it’s counting points or taking away food groups, can also be alienating as there is usually a negative impact on the dieter’s social life. Another reason why people “fall off the diet wagon.” And, the cycle begins again. Yo-yo dieting doesn’t work, as everyone know. Further, yo-yo dieting can play havoc with how your body functions and can over time affect your health even after getting the weight off.

We hear people talk about “kicking up metabolism” to burn fat or being fat because of a low metabolism. So, just what is metabolism, anyway? Biologically speaking, metabolism is “in the function in every single cell of your body and how energy is produced.” Calories are converted to energy. Energy is what makes the body run like a well-oiled machine. We need nutrients to keep us healthy, to support cellular repair and regeneration, and to synthesize hormones. We need energy to support the processes of life in the body through the activities in the brain, cardiovascular and digestive systems. We need both: a certain levels of certain nutrients and a minimum number of calories for energy in order to be healthy.

Most people naturally turn to a low calorie diet to lose weight. When calorie intake is unduly restricted, the body will slow down metabolism. So what happens when a person consistently consumes lower calories than are needed for their activity and to sustain healthy metabolism? They get tired. Their body doesn’t function because it doesn’t have energy. Long-term this yo-yo dieting can affect the adrenals and have an impact on thyroid function, potentially leading to hypothyroidism. If body fat level drops too low, it can lead to irregular period (or absence of period altogether). This is caused by low estrogen level – which can also lead to a challenging menopause for women, as well as osteoporosis.

When certain food groups are eliminated for too long, nutrient deficiencies can happen. This is one of the main causes of cravings. Cravings may lead to binging and out-of-control weight gain. Meal replacement programs – and there are some good ones available – are great to jump start weight loss. These programs include a “balanced diet” within their regimen. However, they give only a loose definition of “balanced meal.” They do not address the effects of common food allergens nor do they take into account bio-individuality. Taking pills, using shake programs (especially ones with artificial ingredients), diet drinks, or herbal body wraps, don’t work in the long run and could also be hazardous to your health. When the diet program is stopped and food intake is back to normal, the dieter gains weight back when they return to their normal diet.

A few dietary and lifestyle changes can lead to pleasurable and effortless weight loss that can bring you a lifetime of benefits. By assessing what foods actually work for you and knowing the ones that don’t, you will also get the benefits of long-term health. If you wish to include a meal replacement in your diet, be sure to do your homework as most meal replacements are made up of fillers, artificial flavorings and sweetener or are solely of extracts. It may not have good nutritional values or have enough calories and may require additional supplements which can be even more expensive. A good protein shake meal replacements is great for those occasional I-need-something-really-fast breakfasts or for after a run or work out to support muscle recovery.

I love to support people who want to include an amazing meal replacement as part of their regimen. Together, we develop meal plan that includes a variety of wholesome foods to support their weight management, health goals and their bio-individuality. That plan can also include their shake program so they get the breakthrough they want, achieve a sustainable goal for their ideal weight and have long-lasting health benefits.

My next newsletter will cover my top 10 tips to avoid weight gain. If you’d like a free consultation to discuss your health, weight-loss goals or dietary needs, I offer a one-time complimentary, 50-minute “discovery” session valued at $100. To get started, simply click HERE to submit your health self-assessment.

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