Diets or Lifestyle Changes?
Maybe you've got an event you want to look your best for, or perhaps you're tired of seeing those pesky COVID pounds still appearing when you weigh yourself in the morning. Whatever the reason, you're thinking about shedding some pounds — but you want to do it right. You want to make better choices for your body and keep that weight off. Honestly, you're doing great already by thinking about the best options for you rather than jumping into the first diet that crosses your path!
So, time for the big question of the day. Which is better, a diet or a lifestyle change?
Spoiler alert! It's a lifestyle change, without question. But don't just take our word for it; let's explore why this is the case. First, let's talk about what is the issue with diets.
What Is Wrong with Diets?
The biggest issue with diets is that they are not meant to be sustainable options. Diets are temporary and often are actually unhealthy for your body. When you subject yourself to an unsustainable diet, you are more likely to experience the types of changes that you are not looking for. Or even if you do get your desired results, as soon as you go off the diet, all of that weight can come rushing back.
A study from UCLA showed that over 85% of individuals on diets regained their weight within a year. Unfortunately, the truth is, restricting calories is not going to solve your problem. Our bodies are much more intelligent than we give them credit for. Endocrinologist Dr. Marcio Griebler from the Cleveland Clinic notes that the problem with calorie-restricting diets is that, over time, your body simply adjusts to functioning on fewer calories. In other words, your body stops devoting energy to functions that aren't essential to running your body and just adapts to operating at a lower capacity.
This is not healthy. And it also stops the diet from doing what you wanted it to in the first place: helping you lose weight. Our bodies also start finding ways to get us out of "starvation mode," like turning up the "hunger hormone."
So, if diets don't work, what can you do? Focus on lifestyle changes.
Why Lifestyle Changes Are Better
What about lifestyle changes that make them better than diets — after all, you're basically doing the same thing, right? Yes and no. The big difference with a lifestyle change is that you create a sustainable healthy habit. In other words, you aren't depriving your body of the nutrients and food that it needs, but you're also not letting it fall into (or stay in) some of the current bad habits you may have.
Let's say, for example, you love snacks. Maybe you can't get through the day without having snacks in between your meals. Smaller meals throughout the day help you stay focused and not tired. That is completely fine. In a lifestyle change, you don't have to change that if you know it won't be sustainable for you. What you're going to want to focus on changing is maybe what you are eating for those snacks. For example, you might want to try making your own nutritious snacks rather than eating processed foods or pre-packaged snacks. This could be veggies and hummus, smoothies, charcuterie boards, or anything else.
The point is you aren't trying to change your eating habits so dramatically that you'll have to give up in a few months. Instead, you're simply shifting your focus to be on healthier alternatives.
While diets may sound like a great option — especially if you are looking for a "quick fix" — in reality, they will only cause more trouble down the road.
Lifestyle changes, on the other hand, are tough, and they take a lot of work and time to do right. But they are much more sustainable and provide you with a path for your future. When you focus on creating lasting changes, you can live a healthier lifestyle and achieve the changes you want. And this is how you can improve your health or lose some weight if that is your goal, the right way.For more tips about how to stay healthy, check out our blog!