We’ve all had that friend — or been that friend — who has experienced quick weight loss success, only to gain back all the weight within a few months. According to Registered Dietician Nutritionist Lauren Fowler, it’s because our bodies aren’t designed to flourish under the duress of extreme diets.
And she should know. Fowler works closely with women stuck in the cycle of extreme dieting, and she often sees the following negative outcomes when women try to lose weight with a quick fix.
1. Mental health disorders are linked to diets
Which comes first, the diet or the eating disorder? That may sound cavalier, but it’s the truth. “Dieting itself is a risk factor for eating disorders,” explained Fowler. In other words, people don’t diet because they have an eating disorder. They have eating disorders because they’re stuck in a cycle of emotional upheaval related to dieting.
2. Diets create nutrient deficiencies
Fowler explains that it’s nearly impossible to obtain necessary nutrients from the stingy portions and varieties of diet foods on the market. When you start messing with nutrients, then you start messing with the body’s optimal function. For example, magnesium is found in high-calorie foods like dark chocolate and avocados, which often don’t make the cut for dieting. However, a magnesium deficiency is linked to terrible health outcomes like insomnia, poor memory and even tremors.
3. Fatigue is the enemy of health
Your entire body runs on calorie consumption. Calories are energy, and extreme dieting prevents energy from adequately reaching all of your body’s systems, which Fowler says leads to fatigue. And guess what people tend to do when fatigued? Eat high calorie foods.
4. Diets obliterate a healthy metabolism
Metabolism is the rate at which bodies use caloric energy. Fowler explains that when bodies are shocked into believing that energy is nowhere on the horizon — since, sadly, bodies don’t get a memo from the dieting brain — the metabolic rate plummets.
5. Dieting may cause long-term weight gain
When metabolism plummets, weight gain isn’t far behind. Yes, a quick diet will likely cause a drop in weight, but it’s not a permanent fix. “Over the long-term, research demonstrates that the majority of people who diet will gain back even more weight than they lost,” Fowler said.
Of course, if you could still stand to lose a little weight, it’s worth it to consider a handful of life changes. “Instead of extreme dieting, consider creating your own personal nutrition plan,” said Fowler. She says that women should start with gradual changes, like increasing intake of water and vegetables over time. “These small habits will make you more successful by creating sustainable habits over the long-term,” she concluded.