Look around, so many people are concerned about their weight. Almost everyone is looking for some kind of diet plan to help them shed pounds, to the point of a dieting craze. Despite there being so many other ways to lose weight, it seems that most are fixed on dieting for weight loss. This appears to be the fastest, least demanding and safest way to shed pounds. If you have tried dropping pounds before, you know that weight loss is no easy task. Whether you are dieting or exercising, the fact remains that the process is challenging. But when do you stop dieting?
Some people believe you are supposed to stop dieting when it is not yielding the expected results. On the other hand, others think you are to stop when you get your desired weight loss results. Others may argue that you are to stop dieting if you start working out. So, who is right?
In this drop we will be shedding more light on dieting, its effects, and when it is appropriate to stop dieting. Going further, we will guide you on how to diet if your goal is to drop some pounds safely.
Dieting And Weight Loss
Before we even go further, it is essential to note that there are no quick fixes if you want to lose weight. You can only shed pounds and keep off the extra weight entirely if you lose weight gradually and steadily. In light of this, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recommends that you target shedding no more than 1 or 2 pounds weekly (5).
This brings us to one major mistake most weight watchers make when they start dieting for weight loss. The majority will think that they will only follow their weight loss diet plans for a little while as they shed tremendous weight. Similarly, they believe that they are free to go back to their old lifestyle after this dieting period.
You need to note that healthy and successful weight loss happens at a steady rate and is long-term in nature. It is not something you dive into for some weeks and then return to your old unhealthy habits. Instead, dieting for weight loss must be a practice you adopt over the long-term for more steady and permanent results.
What Diet Works For Weight Loss?
Numerous diets are being praised online for their effectiveness in keeping off unwanted pounds. The problem is that most people who are desperately trying to lose weight hardly research their effects before adopting them. As a consequence, they end up dropping them down the line due to health problems, delayed, or no results.
You need to know that fad diets can promise you quick weight loss results and not deliver this promise. We all know that to lose weight, you have to maintain a calorie deficit. This means consuming fewer calories than your body is burning (4).
Experts recommend you try diet plans that help you create and maintain a calorie deficit in light of this. Some of these include:
A Low-Calorie Diet
In a low-calorie diet, you are limited to the consumption of 1, 200 to 1, 500 calories daily (11). Despite the caloric intake restriction, you have to make sure that the diet meets all your dietary and nutritional needs. First, you need to talk to your doctor, as this diet comes with various health risks.
Very Low-Calorie Diets
Your calorie intake must be less than 800 calories a day in the very-low-calorie diets (11). However, in some cases, you can be restricted to 500 calories daily. Do not start such a diet without medical supervision as it could be dangerous to your health.
Vegan and Vegetarian Diets
These diets primarily focus on the consumption of low-calorie plant-based meals (12). They can help you maintain a calorie deficit, which by many accounts is effective for weight loss.
The keto or ketogenic diet can also promote weight loss as it may help reduce your appetite and boost your metabolism (15). It contains foods that increase satiety, thereby reducing the stimulation of your hunger hormones.
There are so many more meal plans that weight watchers are currently using to shed pounds. We may list them throughout this read and still not exhaust them. For now, let us mention only these popular ones and dive straight into why you need to stop dieting.
The Problem With Dieting For Weight Loss
Of course, at first glance, dieting seems like a safe option for shedding pounds. After all, you may think that you will be eating right and therefore, there is no room for attaining any health problem.
The truth is that dieting is not a bed of roses. It comes with its risks. Here are the most common problems of dieting for weight loss:
It is highly likely to experience malnutrition, especially if your diet restricts the consumption of too many nutrients. The problem of malnutrition is that it causes other serious or fatal health problems, such as (6):
- A higher infection risk
- Slow recovery from illnesses and wounds
- Short and long-term health problems
- Difficulty focusing either at work or school
- Specific health problems such vision problems if you lack vitamin A and scurvy if you lack vitamin C
To avoid malnutrition, always consult with your healthcare provider and nutritionist before adopting any weight loss diet plan. After all, prevention is better than cure.
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Transient Deterioration In Heart Functioning
The European Society of Cardiology also acknowledges that some low-calorie diets may lead to a temporary deterioration of your heart performance (1). Although it may be short-lived, it could be dangerous. You must, therefore, seek medical advice before adopting a low or very low-calorie diet.
Temporary Weight Loss
It is scientifically proven that a reduced-calorie diet can help you lose weight as it enables you to maintain a calorie deficit. However, Medicine Net states that these diets make various metabolic changes, making it harder to lose weight down the line (2).
This means that after a few months or so of dieting, you will realize that you are no longer losing weight. To prompt further weight loss, you have to keep eating less and less, which is dangerous to your health. This may lead to malnutrition or undernutrition. All of this makes it hard to stick to these weight loss diets for the long haul.
When To Stop Dieting?
Whether you like it or not, you will at one point be forced to stop dieting. This is regardless of whether you have seen some weight loss results or not. Take a look at some situations that could cause you to stop dieting immediately:
When You Report Health Problems
As discussed earlier, dieting may lead to health problems such as undernutrition, malnutrition, or short-lived deterioration of heart functioning. You are expected to stop dieting immediately and seek medical assistance for your health conditions. Besides getting treatment for these problems, your doctor will also guide you on other safe practices to shed pounds.
When It Does Not Work
Researchers conducted a study to understand why dieting often doesn’t work. By studying neurons in mice, they were able to infer that weight loss strategies like dieting do not work because your body operates like a thermostat (14).
This means that it matches the calories you burn to the calories you consume. Therefore, when you eat less, your body also burns fewer calories, making it harder to lose pounds (14).
When You Gain Weight
Sometimes you may start a dieting program to lose weight but end up with the exact opposite results. According to WebMD, this might be tied to your existing health problems or the medications you take for your health conditions (13). Below are some health conditions that may promote weight gain, even if you are dieting for weight loss (13):
When you have chronic stress due to grief, stress, or anxiety, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. This is responsible for increased fat deposits, especially around your waistline.
When your thyroid is underactive, your body produces fewer thyroid hormones to help in fat burning. Consequently, it lowers your metabolism and makes you store more fat than you are burning.
This health condition leads to excessive cortisol production, leading to a buildup of fat in your abdomen, face, and upper back.
Depression may lead to emotional eating, which helps you consume extra calories, eventually leading to weight gain.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
The following disease results from hormonal imbalances in women. This may cause acne, difficulty getting pregnant, irregular menstruation, and weight gain not caused by overeating.
Insulin Resistance, Hyperinsulinemia, Or Syndrome X
This condition is directly related to weight gain. When your body resists insulin, it affects other hormones responsible for controlling metabolism.
Not only these medical conditions may make you add some weight despite dieting for weight loss. You may also add pounds when you take various medications. According to WebMD, some common culprits for the extra pounds include (13):
- Birth control pills
- Drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes, for example, sulfonylureas
- Antidepressants, such as imipramine, trazodone, and amitriptyline
- Beta-blockers prescribed for individuals with some heart conditions or high blood pressure
- Schizophrenia or antipsychotic medications, such as olanzapine and thioridazine
- Antiepileptics that are taken to control seizures, especially carbamazepine and valproic acid
Do not stop taking any of these medications without first consulting your doctor. Seek medical advice first as your doctor may help find another similar drug without the weight gain effect.
When You Reach A Weight Loss Plateau
Have you been dieting for the last two months, but your scale appears not to budge? If so, then it means that you have reached a weight loss plateau. A weight-loss plateau is a phase where you no longer drop pounds, despite following a weight loss diet plan. According to Medical News Today, this may happen six months after you start following a low-calorie diet (10).
No matter how much you reduce your calorie intake, your scale still won’t budge. The best advice given in such a case is to stop dieting and lose weight using other weight-loss strategies like exercise. It may be a hard pill to swallow, especially for people who hate working out. However, it may be the only strategy to help you attain your weight loss goals.
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How To Stop Dieting?
You have realized that dieting is not your cup of tea and now want to stop. Where do you start? Of course, most of us may be tempted to go back to our old lifestyle. That lifestyle may entail eating unhealthy foods that made us want to lose weight in the first place. But is this the only way for you to proceed? Of course, not.
You should talk to your doctor and dietitian if you no longer want to diet for weight loss. You are not a bad person for wanting to stop dieting, especially if your health is at risk. That said, do not hide your reasons for this decision from these professionals.
They will guide you on how to stop dieting and start living healthy to promote weight loss. Additionally, they might recommend implementing other weight loss strategies down the line, such as exercising and mindful eating. These strategies will help you avoid pounds creeping back when you stop this weight loss dieting program.
Social support is another thing you will need to stop dieting. The focus should now shift from how to shed pounds to how to maintain your weight loss. It would help if you have support from your circle of friends, as it is pretty easy to fall back to your old and unhealthy eating patterns.
Find a support system that holds you accountable and encourages you along the way (3). Try and avoid judgmental individuals or those who will tempt you to fall off the wagon.
Stop Dieting And Start Losing Weight Using These Tried-And-Tested Weight Loss Strategies
Just because you tried dieting and it did not work does not mean you give up on your weight loss journey. There are other safe and effective weight loss strategies you can implement and lose the pounds you want. They include:
Regular exercise is a staple for weight loss. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests you aim to exercise between 225 and 420 minutes weekly (7) for optimal weight loss. You can choose to either engage in aerobic or anaerobic exercises, or both.
Aerobic exercises include swimming, running, cycling, jogging, and walking. On the other hand, anaerobic exercises include sprinting or heavy weight lifting. Talk to your fitness instructor for more insight into the best exercise program to help you lose weight.
Mindful eating is also another foundation for weight loss. It means taking time to savor your meals (8). To help you achieve this, you need to get rid of distractions. They range from your phone to your television.
Just switch them off for at least 30 minutes or until you are done with your meals. During this time, concentrate on the texture of the food, its aroma, and flavors. This will help you to chew your food slowly, enjoy it, and prevent overeating.
Changing Your Mindset and Lifestyle
After trying to diet and not getting the expected results, perhaps it is now time to change your entire outlook. Try to change your lifestyle, and specifically the unhealthy habits that lead to unnecessary weight.
These unhealthy habits may include excessive alcohol consumption, not getting enough sleep, binge eating, or skipping meals. Sit down and assess all your unhealthy lifestyle habits to determine what you will work on (9). However, before making any changes, talk to a healthcare provider or nutritionist.
They will guide you on how to make small changes without making it strenuous or overwhelming for you. For example, they may recommend reducing your alcohol intake at first instead of cutting it entirely from your diet. Similarly, they may recommend eating small meals frequently to avoid binge eating.
The Bottom Line
It is irrefutable that losing weight is both challenging and a nightmare for most of us. You are expected to be patient and to put in the work if you want to see the results. Since most people either hate or lack time to exercise, they opt for dieting as their chosen weight loss strategy.
Diets such as ketogenic, vegan, low-calorie, very low calorie, and vegetarian diets are commonly used to promote weight loss. However, their downside is that each diet plan is associated with various risks. Again, dieting supposedly does not work and may lead to weight gain, which compromises your weight loss efforts.
In light of this, you can choose to stop dieting and focus on other safer weight loss strategies like mindful eating. You can also decide to stop dieting if you experience health problems like malnutrition or reach a weight loss plateau.
Talk to your doctor before you make any major changes to your diet. They will guide you on how to safely transition without bringing more harm your way.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Crash diets can cause transient deterioration in heart function (2018, sciencedaily.com)
- Diets Don’t Work Long-Term (2007, medicinenet.com)
- Healthy habits for weight loss (2020, medlineplus.gov)
- How to safely and effectively create a calorie deficit for weight loss (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Losing Weight (2020, cdc.gov)
- Malnutrition: What you need to know (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Possible reasons weight loss is not working (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- The ABCs of Weight Loss (2006, webmd.com)
- Weight loss: 6 strategies for success (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- What to do about a weight loss plateau (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What to know about low calorie meal plans (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What to know about vegan diets (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Why Aren’t You Losing Weight? (2004, webmd.com)
- Why does dieting now work? Study sheds light (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Why is the keto diet good for you? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)