Dieting could be making you less intelligent
by Maya Maymon (Brosnan) on Mar 14, 2023
Weight loss is at the top of the list of things to accomplush for quite a few of us, especially after spending lots of time socialising, working, attending gatherings, barbeques and parties, not to mention being exposed to endless options of nutrient deficient food now available to us in every direction we turn.
While most of us simply want to look good and feel good, it still is highly essential for anyone who is about to embark on a weight loss journey to become aware of the following:
- Going on a highly restrictive weight loss diet is unnecessary as it is not the only way you can lose weight. However, making well informed, healthy diet and lifestyle changes can serve as a much better, more sustainable weight loss.
- Many weight loss diets out there can be quite damaging for your health while the weight you actually lose does not stay off for very long after you are finished dieting.
Here are some interesting facts
Some of the diets deplete your body from some essential nutrients:
Macronutrients are the 'big guys' - protein, carbs, fats and fibre; some diets are highly restrictive on carbohydrates and fibre (high protein low carb diets/ketogenic diets such as 'Dukan', 'Atkins' etc.), while others are highly restrictive on fats (low fat diets which are now re trending). Low calorie diets can be restrictive on some or even all of the macronutrients together.
Micronutrients are 'the little guys' - vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals which we get from our fresh food sources (mostly fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, beans and wholegrains) every day.
Let's look at the high protein low carb diets
These diets can be extremely hard to follow for a long period of time, as they are highly restrictive on carbohydrate intake. That includes not just grainy sources of carbs like bread, pasta and rice, but also fruit and vegetables. By relying mainly on protein and fats for energy, the body depletes its muscle glycogen stores (sugar stores in the muscle). It then needs to produce glucose through the liver (in a process called gluconeogenesis).
By restricting carbohydrate intake, overtime the body will become gradually depleted of essential micronutrients vitamins and minerals that your body needs a constant supply of in order to sustain not only normal energy production, but also different biochemical pathways throughout the whole body including hormone synthesis and brain chemicals (neurotransmitters).
Long term depletion can lead to a variety of conditions from hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels) to lethargy to sleeping disturbances, menstrual and reproductive disorders, insomnia and depression.
The absence of fibre in this diet can lead to constipation as well as increased bad cholesterol (HDL), especially if the sources of protein consumed are high in saturated fats.
We all need protein in our diets, and most of us really don't seem to get enough protein from good healthy sources on a daily basis but, when you have too much protein for too long, it can have a direct effect on your calcium absorption; Individuals on a long term high protein diets, excrete more calcium in their urine. This can cause bone weakness and increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis as well as forming kidney stones.
This high protein consumption also tends to put strain on the kidneys, and can make some individuals more susceptible to kidney weakness and failure.
Low fat diets
The low fat diet used to be very popular back in the 90's. People were amazed to discover that food could still taste good and be low in fat. It is actually quite alarming to discover so many people to this day believe they are better off consuming low fat foods even though their scales seem to be stuck on the same numbers. Let's explore a few of the reasons why being on a low fat diet may not be as good for you as you may have been lead to believe:
Firstly, we all need fat to survive. Our bodies can synthesise fat from other sources such as sugar and carbs (this is exactly where this diet fails!), but Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) cannot be synthesised in the body and we do need to have a adequate supply of those in our daily diets. These EFAs are necessary for many biochemical functions in the body including brain chemistry, healthy cholesterol balance and even to soften each and every cell membrane in our bodies in order to allow nutrition to reach our cells and make them function optimally.
Fat in general (saturated as well as unsaturated) is needed for our bodies to be able to absorb certain nutrients (Fat soluble vitamins) including vitamin A, D, E and K. Long term malabsorption of these vitamins can lead to depletions that can cause a variety of conditions including osteoporosis through lack of vitamin D and K, compromised immunity and an increase in allergies as well as vision impairment due to lack of vitamin A, and compromised cardiovascular and arteries health due to lack in vitamin E, not to mention premature aging of the skin.
Respect your body, respect your mind. Feed yourself with nutrients
What about low calorie diets?
These diets can be highly stressful to follow, as you are constantly measuring your food and adding up your calorie intake for the day. Unresolved stress and altered stress hormone metabolism on its own is one of main reasons people find it hard to lose weight to start with.
Getting your daily calorie intake right for the day still doesn't mean that you are getting the correct amount of nutrients you need to survive. Calories only look at the energy consumed overall, failing to take into consideration your daily needs of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and even protein or fat for maintenance of body tissues and organs.
Furthermore, your body does not understand the calorie counting language... The language it does understand is the goodness in nutrients that it constantly needs to survive. When you only rely on counting calories, combined with exercise you will lose weight. There's no doubt about that. The problem is, when you go back to a normal healthy diet, which does not necessarily involve over indulging in high fat or high sugary foods, you will find that you will very quickly begin to put weight back on. After long term depletion of life sustaining nutrients, the body can easily go into survival mode and hang onto every single bit of fat it can as a simple survival mechanism.
Relax, there's good news!
Losing weight does not need to be difficult or frustrating. The best way to get started is by paying respect to the most precious vehicle you will ever own - your own body! Once you make a decision to stop punishing your body with diet fads, restrictions and starvation, you will soon gain more self body respect. Once you make the commitment to tune into your own body's needs, once you get to know your unique body language, and you will find yourself losing weight effortlessly.