Why so many diets fail - part 1

Hi again everyone,

There are many misconceptions about ‘dieting’, it is not surprising therefore if you have tried and failed multiple times when dieting.

The purpose of this post is to expose some of the myths about dieting and to explain why some diets are complete nonsense. I have had the guidance of Mr Patrick Holford in writing this post. He is one of the UK’s leading nutrition experts, has sold over a million copies of 20 books worldwide and knows his stuff!

Firstly what is GI and GL?

GI = Glycaemic Index. Simply put the GI of a food tells you whether the carbohydrate in the food is ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ releasing. It doesn’t however tell you how much of the food is carbohydrate.  It is a ‘quality’ measure. Carbohydrate points  or grams of carbohydrate tell you how much of the food is carbohydrate but doesn’t tell you what the particular carbohydrate does to your blood sugar. It is a ‘quantity’ measure.

GL = Glycaemic Load. It is the quality x the quantity. It is the best way of telling you how much weight you’ll gain if you were too eat a specific food.

Watermelon has a high GI so many people think its bad for you. It also has a lot of fibre however which makes its GL is much lower. One date has the same effect on your blood sugar and weight as a whole punnet of strawberries!

Okay lets dispel some myths!

A very healthy looking frest salad dish

Myth 1 - The only way to lose weight is to eat less fat and less calories

We all know the equation: calories in minus calories out, equals your weight. Since fat has more calories per gram (9 kcal/g) you're told that cutting out fat is the easiest way to reduce your calories.

The reality is that it’s not low fat, low calorie diets but low GL diets (Low Glycaemic Load diets) that are the most efficient at reducing body fat.

In the US in 1977 fat averaged 42% of a persons diet. In 1997 fat averaged 32% of calories- did the decrease in fat intake reduce the obesity epidemic? No. It actually accelerated! We have been told that eating fewer calories is the best way to lose weight, this is simply not true. Also we have been told that a calorie is a calorie and that this is all that matters- this is also false.

Myth 2 - A calorie is a calorie

Calories are not to be taken too seriously. After all what is a calorie? A calorie is the amount of energy to heat 1g of water by 1°c. How does this apply to a human? Foods are taken and using a process called calorimetry are burnt and the heat used to increase the temperature of water. Again how can this be related to a living human?

Using a Dax Moy point: Lets say that you decrease your calorie intake from 3000 calories day to 1000 calories a day. Over a month you would have consumed around 60,000 less calories resulting in (theoretically) 17lbs of  fat loss- great right? However after the next month would you continue to lose 17lbs of fat? Would you lose yet another 17lbs of fat the month after that?! No.

The point of this ramble - don’t take calories too seriously.

Cooked fish dish - attractively presented and healthy too

Myth 3 - You can’t change your metabolism

This is laughable.

Your Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy needed to lie awake all day and survive. It is also what we know to be our ‘metabolism’. Your metabolism is the way you can turn your food into energy or storage as fat.

Ultimately your metabolism is primarily down to what you eat and how active you are. This will be discussed in depth in a future post. You are in control of your metabolism and you can change the efficiency of your metabolism and your metabolic rate. When people crash diet  your metabolism is reduced as part of your bodies survival mechanism. Intense exercise can however increase it 10x and leave it elevated for up to 48 hours. This is known as EPOC or Excess Post Oxygen Consumption commonly known as the ‘afterburn’.

By changing the kinds and combinations of food you eat and exercising your body will burn fat more rapidly. The more lean muscle you have (which will be increased by exercising) the more calories you burn just by functioning - again your metabolic rate has increased.

So in summary don’t drastically decrease the amount you eat as this will cause you to gain weight - eat more healthy foods. Don’t be obsessed with calories - this is one reason why I like Dax’s Elimination Diet as there is no point system to worry about or calorie counting. Finally you can change your metabolism, and if you want to lose weight you HAVE you increase that metabolic rate!

More reasons why most ‘diets’ fail will be discussed shortly!

Take care everyone!


(Link to second part of my myth busting Why so many diets fail)