All Diets Work
Popular diets like detoxes, vegetable cleanses and soup diets simplify eating less by restricting you to specific very low calorie foods.
I find the trendiest one to date is the Detox Diet Week.
The Detox Diet Week is a 7-day meal plan to lose 5-15 pounds in one week. It claims to boost my metabolism, scrub my body clean and detoxify my system (seriously, read it here: so bad). In the meal plan, regardless of your initial bodyweight, gender, age, body fat% and all kinds of details that would normally be used to assess your nutrition, you are set to consume ~300-500 calories/day.
As someone who has focused all their work on helping people get in shape, that makes me cringe.
From strictly energy perspective:
300 calories = 2 bottles of Heineken = 3/4 of a Starbucks Muffin = 3 Yogurts = Detox Diet Week
Imagine all day, all you could have have is 3/4 of a Starbucks Muffin. Not even a full one, just 3/4
Detox Week Debunked
1)Metabolism is how much energy your body burns in a day. In severe energy restriction like the detox, your body wants to conserve energy because it thinks that food is scarce. So your metabolism actually slows down by subconsciously minimizing energy burn for non-essential activities. Essential activities would be your heart beat and breathing. Non-essential activity is any movement that is not purposeful exercise like fidgeting.
2)I’ll scrub my own body dammit
3)Cutting out foods will not detoxify your body, plus, I have yet to find one of these detoxes tell me what a toxic body actually is or looks like. Our body uses the immune system and cell death mechanisms to kill off dysfunctional cells and pathogens.
We are the generation of instant gratification which is the reason why I believe these diets are gaining so much popularity. People want the quick fixes. Although detoxes really can help you lose 5-15 pounds in the short-term, in the long-term you can actually gain above your initial weight due to metabolic slowdown.
In order to keep the results of an extreme diet, you will need to stay on an extreme diet.
I mean, if you went back to the old habits that made you gain weight in the first place, you can’t expect to stay in the same condition you’re in during your diet.
The 3 keys to the right diet for you:
1) Sustainability: anyone can lose 5-15 pounds starving themselves. when you gain muscle/lose fat. you want to keep those results. pick a diet that you can adjust and STICK TO LONG-TERM. (they exist…see table at end of article)
Can you live off soup or detox powder for the rest of your life?
Can you go on straight vegetable-only binges for two weeks of every month til you achieve your goal?
How will your diet manage your cravings for delicious food? or can you live without it?
Are you living happily on these diets?
2) Healthy: provides you with right nutrients/micronutrients that fit your individual needs. (ask your doctor)
ex. fibre from carbs, omega-3’s from fat, Iron/calcium from protein sources, vegetables/fruits of different colours…
3) it works:
-do you want to look cut or toned at the end or would you just rather look like a smaller version of your physical self? different diet protocols will support different looks.
-it takes time: you should be able to tell if changes are happening by the 5th week (assuming you are eating less). take pictures and/or do girth measurements
Extreme is subjective. A vegetable cleanse may be very easy for a vegetarian. Or a ketogenic diet which is essentially no carbs/high fat/high protein might be easy for a diabetic (someone who cannot handle carbs well)
Personally, I couldn’t do either vegetable cleanses because I love protein from meat sources (which supports muscle maintenance and growth!) and I couldn’t do a ketogenic diet because I love my carbs (even though I have tried it…lasting a total of 7 days).
In the list below, I have outlined some diet protocols that I know have worked. The only question is whether you will stick to it.
LIST OF DIETS
Flexible Dieting / IIFYM (If it fits your macros)
-Eating any food whenever you want as long as you hit your caloric target
-Variety of food options, balance should be practiced between junk food and nutritious foods
-A lot easier then people think because of smartphone apps
Intermittent Fasting (IF) -Caloric restriction via alternating cycles of fasting and eating
-Works best in combination with calorie tracking
-Example day would be skipping breakfast, then eating between 12-8PM… many different variations
-Useful to busy individuals who need to rush out to work or have times in their day where eating is inconvenient
For more details IF protocol read:
Ketogenic Diet -A very low carb/high protein/high fat diet
-Intaking less than 50g of carbs daily to start a process in the body known as ketosis. Ketosis is the creation of carbohydrate-like molecules through the breakdown of fat.
-Useful to those who have difficulty processing carbohydrates/sugars (grains, fruits…) and/or regulating blood sugar (diabetics)
-Basically flexible dieting except cut out all foods containing carbs except vegetables (except starchy vegetables like corn, carrots, beets)
Precision Nutrition Style - Food tracking relative to hand size to set body up for fat loss/muscle gain
-Less accurate than calorie counting but useful tool to help you portion control on-the-go
See article for more info:
Carb Cycling - Flexible Dieting except you manipulate your carbohydrate intake based on certain training days and rest days.
-Good for busy people who have irregular eating habits, for example, someone who doesn't each much during the weekday but binges on the weekend.
-Eating less carbs on the weekday to allow for slightly more carbs on the weekend. The person still must be in weekly calorie deficit to lose weight and vice versa, someone gaining weight must be in weekly caloric surplus.
“Clean Eating” -Only eating “clean foods”. Clean foods are those are foods that are nutrition-dense meaning that per calorie, you get a lot of nutrients. The opposite of clean food would be foods that are considered “empty calorie foods”. So like chips, low nutritional value/calorie.
-Side note: I got fat clean eating, I would eat nutritious foods but in a huge caloric surplus (a.k.a I ate too much). This is how I ballooned from 160-192 in my last year of University
-Calorie restriction easier to achieve because cleaner foods tend to be lower calorie
-Tend to be high fibre so aid in digestion and absorption of nutrient
-Can be boring and restrictive (example, hard to eat clean going out)
-Can make you deficient in certain nutrients because you restrict yourself from certain foods
Example: avoid milk, low calcium
Read: Clean Eating
The point of my article is you pick something that works well for YOU. Is your choice sustainable? Have you considered the health implications with your diet? Have you considered potential nutrient deficiencies associated with your diet? Can you fit this into your lifestyle?
If you need more information on a certain protocol, or have questions, leave a comment below.