“Dieting” as defined by the Oxford dictionary, is restricting oneself to small amounts or certain kinds of food to lose weight. It can also be for health purposes or providing positive energy to fuel the body, making everyday tasks a little easier.
A healthy diet can promote healing and add vitality to daily living, with more and more people turning to a balanced intake to combat disease or illness prevention. Some people have to restrict what they can eat due to certain allergic conditions from food types such as gluten, peanuts, soy, or shellfish.
But the most popular type of food restriction centers around calorie restriction to lose weight and slim down to look and feel good. For many, dieting can become a lifelong battle. The constant dieter may try several fad diets over the years to shed a few pounds, only to gain the weight right back. (1)
Estimated figures show that over 44 million Americans go on a diet every year. In a study carried out between 2013 and 2016, almost 50% of American adults tried to lose weight during the previous year. (2)
A Brief History Of Dieting
The history of dieting can be traced to ancient times. The Greeks and Romans believed a healthy body meant a healthy mind. Being overweight was viewed as unattractive and a sign of mental illness.
Pageants showcasing beauty were a regular occurrence, with fitness and physicality held in high esteem.
In Medieval Europe, gluttony by the wealthy meant many became overweight. William the Conqueror reportedly went on the first known liquid diet when he became too heavy to mount his horse. Unfortunately, his liquid diet was alcohol and after drunkenly trying to clamber onto his trusty steed impaled himself on the saddle horn, where he later died from infection.
The first known diet book was printed in 1588 (The Art Of Living Long by Luigi Cornaro) and is still in production in various forms to the present day. (3)
Since then, thousands of books have been written, advising the perfect diet, each claiming to be the panacea for healthy living.
Losing Weight Is Not Just About Eating Less
Many dietary philosophies involve simply eating less, working on the assumption that the smaller the portion size, the quicker you will lose weight. Throw in a little bit of exercise, and presto! The perfect body is yours in just a few weeks. While this may be a possibility for some in the short term, most dieters who follow this regime will pile the pounds back on in no time. Here are a few reasons why eating less has never been the answer.
- Eating too many calories: When dieting, many people often switch foods to reduce their calorie intake. However, without knowing how many calories are in each type of food, a person may increase body mass. For example, eating salad may have fewer calories, but dressings can make the calorie count shoot up, potentially leading to a weight increase. Remember, certain vinaigrettes may be a trojan horse when it comes to eating leafy greens. (4)
- Add Protein: Eating a diet rich in protein can make you feel fuller, helping to reduce calorie intake. (5) Consuming protein also makes your body work harder as it takes longer to digest, using additional calories.
- Drink more water: If taken before a meal, water can suppress the appetite. There is also the bonus that it is 100% calorie-free. One study revealed that drinking half a liter of water before a meal aided weight loss by over 40%. (6)
- Alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine are sugar-rich and high in calories. Spirits drinks have fewer calories, but additional mixers such as cola can increase the calorie count. (7)
- Exercise more: Working out increases the heart rate and can help burn body fat. Eating is also recommended directly after exercise to help repair muscles, keeping the metabolism healthy. A healthy metabolism can help to reduce weight. (8)
Eat More Of The Right Foods To Lose Weight
Eating less is often considered the ideal roadmap for weight loss. However, eating more of the right foods can have the desired result every dieter may be looking to achieve. Here’s how eating more can tip the scales in your favor.
- Good calories v bad calories: Losing weight usually means you need to burn more calories than you consume. Good calories, however, can be helpful in the fight against weight gain. For example, eating 100 calories of fresh fruit will make you feel less hungry than consuming 100 calories of French fries. In other words, eating more fruit will have the same effect as eating fewer fries. In cases like this, eating less will not lead to weight loss.
- Feel fuller for longer: Eating foods such as oatmeal, meat, fish, eggs, potatoes, or nuts can make you feel fuller for longer, helping to ward off hunger.
- Avoid skipping meals: Eating regular meals can help prevent snacking throughout the day. More often than not, grazing instead of eating regular meals can contribute to weight gain and usually involves consuming high-energy, nutrient-poor foods.
Weight Gain Is Not Always About Food
For adults reaching middle age or older, losing weight can seem impossible. Metabolism slows, muscle mass breaks down, and some become insulin resistant, leading to hunger cravings and weight gain. To help combat that hard-to-shift body fat, a revolutionary method called The Happiness Hormones Method can help reduce fat and aid weight loss in women. The program involves a series of short (10 minute), low-intensity exercise routines that swamp the body with the following:
- Dopamine- Can suppress cravings. (9)
- Endorphins- Eating food that increases high levels of endorphins may help to regulate appetite. (10)
- Serotonin- A natural appetite suppressant. (11)
- Oxytocin- Helps reduce body weight and fat. (12)
By releasing these natural compounds, cells rid themselves of excess fat that leads to weight gain. As a result, participants do not have to follow strict diet plans, engage in painful exercise routines, or give up their favorite foods.
For many, losing weight is a constant battle with age, health, and willpower. Different approaches work for a variety of people, while some do not work at all. One weight-loss strategy is becoming more apparent – telling people to eat less has never been the answer.