Why Crash Diets Don't Work

02/11/2015 20:29 GMT | Updated 02/11/2016 09:12 GMT

Crash diets work if you're purely looking at the scales, but in truth, the scales can be wildly deceiving... By severely restricting food and/or energy intake, the weight you see coming off the scales may not be fat... well probably won't be.

There are a few ways in which you can lose weight; reducing body fat, reducing muscle mass, the food held in your gut, muscle and liver glycogen (how your body stores carbohydrates) and through dehydration. Crash diets will help you lose weight by all of the above factors, with a minimal reduction in body fat.

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A much more effective and healthier way to approach body fat loss would be to plan ahead and eat a sustainable, healthy, varied diet over a longer period of time with a gradual rate of weight loss. This will help you maintain more muscle mass (helping you look toned), allow you to eat more, train harder, maintain energy and concentration levels and improve your mood.

Body Fat Loss Basics

Try to aim for 500 kcal below your energy expenditure for a gradual weight loss of 1 lb (0.5 kg) per week. You can calculate energy expenditure using online BMR calculators, there are lots out there and then track your intake on a food-tracking app such as MyFitnessPal, to get aim for this 500 kcal deficit.

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Here are a few pointers to help you towards your weight loss goals:

Protein

• Keep protein intake high - aim for 2 g of protein per kg of bodyweight e.g. 100 g per day if you weigh 50 kg, 160 g per day if you weigh 80 kg

• Try to break you protein down into 5-6 equally sized portions, every 2-3 hours. E.g. breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner and pre-sleep snack

• This will help maximise protein synthesis (how our body makes new muscle) - helping you maintain your muscle mass... or even gain if your training hard or are new to training

• High protein intakes will also help you feel fuller, stopping you snacking on unhealthy snacks between meals

Carbohydrate

• Carbohydrates don't make you fat, don't be scared of them, but make sure you are eating the right types at the right time.

• Aim to eat the majority of you carbohydrates from low GI sources (e.g.wholemeal pasta, long grain/brown/wild rice, quinoa, wholemeal/granary bread, lentils, chickpeas, beans (not the baked type)

• Try to only eat carbohydrates around training to fuel your training sessions and avoid them when resting or sat at your desk.

• If you do want a sugary treat, have it immediately after training for the least impact on body fat storage.

• Carbs when training, not when resting.

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Fat

• Again, don't be scared of fats, we need these in our diet!

• Choosing full fat dairy instead of skimmed has been shown by research to help control hunger and reduce overall eating, so try whole milk and full fat yoghurt, instead of the low fat versions (these are usually packed with sugar to make up for the lack of taste)

• Add olive oil, sesame oil or rapeseed oil to salads (not too much though).

• Cook with coconut oil. Don't be scared of the high saturated fat content, these saturates aren't the bad type. Coconut oil is a great source of MCT's which can help with energy levels and are also beneficial to heart health.

Hydration

• Make sure you are nice and hydrated throughout the day by aiming for 2-3 litres of water per day

• If you are hydrated you are likely to feel less hungry

• Ignore "fat loss" or "light" drinks. These drinks usually contain a certain number of calories, water contains 0 kcal, which do you think is the best for fat loss?

Supplements

• Ignore most of the "fat loss" supplements, 99% don't work, save your money and invest in a good diet, using the best quality ingredients you can afford

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Fruit & Vegetables

• Veg should make up at least 1/3 of each of your meals, but try aiming for ½, this will help take care of your vitamin and mineral requirements each day.

• Fruit in moderation is good, but beware of the high sugar fruits when losing body fat. Avoid bananas, mangos, pineapple and melon and try to go for berries, apples and pear instead as these have a much lower sugar content.

• Avoid more than 250 ml fruit juice per day, as this also has a high sugar content.

Remember, if you're looking to lose weight ditch the crash diets and do it sustainably and healthily. The results will show for themselves.

Images blogger's own

Christian Coates is the founder of Soulmatefood.