For those who've tried a fad diet – and “failed” – how about turning to personalised nutrition instead?
Oh, dieting – it’s universal. Regardless of your gender, chances are you would’ve been on a diet – or tried to be on one – at least once in your life. And more often than not, it simply doesn’t work, whether you’re attempting to bulk up or to lose weight. So, what works instead? (Psst – it’s personalised nutrition!) We turn to Beth Wright, a fitness and nutrition expert, for some answers.
Your questions about fad diets and personalised nutrition – answered
Why do fad diets always leave us feeling like we’ve “failed”?
With so many diets on the market, bolstered by glossy advertising, celebrity endorsements, and promises of the “dream” physique in ”just a few weeks”, it’s no wonder that we all jump with excitement to try something new; once again we tell ourselves, “This is the one!” – and there’s nothing wrong with this mindset; we’re wired for shortcuts and popular culture would have us believe we can “hack” everything. Unfortunately, we’ve been sold a lie. Quick weight loss does not take into consideration the nutrients your body needs which, in turn, can have knock-on effects to your health, mood, libido, and hormonal status.
Most fad diets fail within weeks, because they usually involve removing entire food groups, restricting calories, and/or unsustainable exercise routines that leave us feeling hungry, frustrated, and like a failure. Over time, this can lead to unhealthy diet-binge cycles and self-image issues – not to mention that it creates even more confusion around what is “good for you” (or not)!
Are all fad diets bad?
In essence, no. If we can commit to an enjoyable, healthy, and sustainable programme that works for us, great. However, the reality is that most fad diets are marketed to set us up for none of the above, producing quick results but followed by weight regain. Respected, peer-reviewed research evidences that the majority of dieters regain the weight they lost (and more). Why? It’s simple – these types of diets are simply not sustainable.
Through over-restriction, we lose “weight” initially – although this “weight” which disappears from the scale is actually a combination of water, some fat, and lean muscle mass. Taking fat loss aside for a moment, our muscle tissue should be worked on and protected at all costs. It’s a massive component of our resting metabolic rate (i.e. the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest) which helps us maintain our healthiest body weight.
How can we move past fad diets and still lose fat?
We need a way of eating that nourishes, provides energy, gives you joy, and is sustainable. Sounds too good to be true? The solution is to find a diet that works for you, as the individual you are. This is especially relevant to women, because our hormonal profiles dictate our energy, hunger, cravings, and willpower.
So here’s the answer: personalised nutrition, paired with a lifestyle perspective that suits your own preferences, is a solution that actually works. Personalised nutrition is rooted in the concept that one size does not fit all – it includes your hormonal profile, “weak” spots, and mindset.
Evidence and education about how the body works is far more powerful than “no carbs”, as an example. With new tools available to monitor and to track it’s becoming possible to find a diet that works for you – long-term. One of my favourite ways to personalise nutrition is through using a CGM (continuous glucose monitor), a small device which sits on the back of your arm, which tracks and provides real time data on how food (and lifestyle) impacts your blood sugar (or glucose). But, this is just 1% of what we do – it’s the tip of the iceberg of understanding how your body works, then finding solutions that really work.
What are CGMs (continuous glucose monitors)?
Physiologically speaking, our bodies prefer to be in a state of balance. This is especially true when it comes to blood glucose levels and it’s not just diabetics who need to consider their blood sugar. The foods we eat and the lifestyle we lead can all cause fluctuations in blood sugar which, in turn, can cause inflammation, impact our mood and energy, and cause lasting metabolic damage.
This is when a CGM comes in handy. This device allows you to see how your body responds to a particular food, or at a particular time of the month (we are often more insulin-resistant during the week before our period, causing blood sugar to be higher). It can also enable you to track how your body is affected by stressors such as life events, illness, certain medications, or even exercise.
I love seeing my clients understand that a “healthy” food item has actually been causing havoc with their blood sugars, because it’s from here that we can make instant changes and progress. It’s enlightening to understand that some foods can cause a (relatively) stable glucose response in some people, but a massive spike in others – hence the “no size fits all” approach.
Another interesting example: my Asian clients often don’t see a huge spike in blood sugar when they eat rice but, for my Caucasian clients, it causes a huge blood sugar rise. Not only does this show differences between individuals, but also that there might be a genetic component to our response to foods. Our bodies may respond better to foods that historically we (and our ancestors) grew up on.
If this all sounds “a bit much”, don’t freak out – it’s easier than you think to understand your blood sugars and work around them towards fat loss (if this is your goal).
How to get started with personalised nutrition
If you want to find a diet that is sustainable and gets you results, then it’s time to become a diet detective, embark on a journey of self-discovery, and find out what works best for you. Dialling into the nutrition that caters to you is not only empowering, but it can improve compliance; you’ll feel better, so it’s easier to stick to; it supports your hormonal profile and, therefore, gets you results more quickly. If you want to make the journey easier and attain sustainable results, feel free to reach out to me!