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Why your weight-loss diet is actually making you fatter

Tempted to go on a crash diet or super-low-carb diet to shed excess kilos? You better think again.

Everyone makes a vow to get (back) into shape at some point. And many automatically turn to the latest diet fads, thinking these will provide the best and fastest results. But do these promising weight-loss trends really help you get trim and fit in the long run?

Crash diets can actually make you gain weight over time

It may sound counterintuitive, but it does happen. You go on a diet, you fall off it and your jeans become even tighter in the process. How can trendy diets sabotage all the hard work you’ve done to drop a few kilos?

Crash diets drastically cut calories or make you give up entire food groups (such as carbs); they also force your body to burn muscle for fuel instead of fat. Since muscle is better at burning calories, having less muscle mass will slow down your metabolism and make it much easier for you to regain any lost weight once you return to your usual eating habits.
Many dieters instinctively go for fat-free or low-fat foods. But the fact is that these foods often have an extremely high sugar content to make up for the lack of fat-based flavour. For example, most low-fat yoghurts contain nearly 30 grams of simple carbohydrates – so that’s about 6 full teaspoons of sugar in just one serving! Beware the low-fat label.
The same goes for diet or zero-calorie sodas, which have artificial sweeteners that confuse the body and leave you craving even sweeter treats. You’ll often end up eating and drinking more because your body is not satisfied, and ultimately put on weight.

Another common belief is that dieting means depriving yourself of certain foods, particularly those you find hard to resist – think chocolate, potato chips, bread, ice-cream or wine. At first, it would be easy to swear off these foods. Sooner or later, though, you have so-called ‘cheat days’ where you indulge and overeat for one day of the week. But getting back on track the next day often becomes tougher.

Think of a diet in the true sense of the word: the food you’re consuming today, and every day for the rest of your life.

Better options for long-term fitness

If you want to reach and maintain a reasonable body weight, drop the extreme diet mentality. You need a balanced diet full of nutrients to ensure optimal energy levels and overall well-being, as well as prevent disease.

Start by learning to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Also, explore the foods that you find both nourishing and satisfying, and work out which ones don’t do so well for your body. By tuning in to your body and eating according to these cues, you don’t have to over-indulge or deprive yourself.

Good nutrition and exercise go hand in hand, and you can’t lose weight by dieting alone. Exercise is important in maintaining healthy energy levels and uplifting your moods. Get an extra boost through multivitamins, which help you to have the vitality to burn those excess calories for fuel. There are gender-specific multivitamins that help fill nutritional gaps and maintain healthy energy and stamina levels.
If certain ailments, such as bad knees or ankles, are holding you back from engaging in exercise, address these issues promptly by seeking medical advice. Taking supplements that support your joints, muscles and bones like Swisse Joints Bones and Muscles Range can be helpful, too. Look for supplements that contain glucosamine, which supports joint mobility and cartilage health; wild krill oil, a source of omega-3 and antioxidants; calcium; and vitamin D.

Active prevention when you’re younger is also far better than reactive treatments when you’re older. Having a positive mind-set toward long-lasting lifestyle changes will lessen the likelihood of you being tempted to go for quick weight-loss approaches or trendy diets.

Consistency is key, not just for weight loss but more importantly for long-term fitness. Instead of dieting and making food your enemy, focus on maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle.