The Truth about Dieting

We are very happy to welcome Ben Turner as our guest blogger. Ben is an MNU certified evidence based nutritionist. Over to you Ben...

Diet.  A word that strikes fear into the hearts of some, and the assumption of too much hard work in others.  Many people associate diets with severe restriction, with sin foods, with punishment and with misery. All too often, people look for 'dieting plans' to help kickstart their weight loss.

The word diet has been misrepresented, overused and abused by the latest fads, the ‘new things’ and the latest in ‘revolutionary eating’.  The problem here is that there is nothing revolutionary, new or amazing here, diets follow the principle of a calorie deficit, which means eating less that you are burning on a daily basis.

The fact of the matter here is that ALL DIETS CAN WORK, and diets can have benefits - provided they abide by two ‘rules’, firstly, that they put the individual into a calorie deficit and that you can adhere to it.

A UK based Randomised Control Trial study published in the British Medical Journal (Truby et al, 2006) compared four common diets for their efficacy.   The study compared the Atkins, Rosemary Conley, Weight Watchers and Slim Fast interventions with 293 participants over 6 months.  The study found that over the 6 months of the trial, ALL INTERVENTIONS brought about significant weight and body fat loss.

The results showed “All diets resulted in significant loss of body fat and weight over six months. Groups did not differ significantly, but loss of body fat and weight was greater in all groups compared with the control group. [...] average weight loss was 5.9 kg and average fat loss was 4.4 kg over six months. The Atkins diet resulted in significantly higher weight loss during the first four weeks, but by the end was no more or less effective than the other diets.”

What does this mean?  Ultimately, a calorie deficit is the common denominator here, the ‘answer’ or ‘best diet’ is just a marketing gimmick.  A dietary intervention is only the best if you can stick to it and it puts you into a manageable calorie deficit.

There are certain interesting factors here to bear in mind:

Firstly, get an understanding of what you want.  There are some diets that can result in faster weight loss in the short term than others, however these results will ultimately slow over the longer term and can result in weight regain if not followed up with appropriate habits and a healthy approach.  On the other hand, longer term diets can have their pitfalls, after all, do you want to be on a diet for 12 months?

Secondly, find the best diet that YOU CAN STICK TO, this is the key to achieving your fat or weight loss goal in a calorie deficit.  Sometimes this is the area that can confuse people, if this is the case, get some help, seek some advice, avoiding those who will try and fit you to a set of strict parameters around their bias.

When in a calorie deficit, you are reducing your energy intake, this can make you feel more lethargic at times as you go through the dieting phase. This is natural and can certainly be managed, a multi-vitamin such as the Daily Driver each day can help you 'make the most of everyday’. 

Remember, it's the theoretical understanding that underpins the practical application and empowerment. Evidence based nutritionists give you the theoretical understanding, the ‘how to fish’, so that with some guidance, you may go forward with the practical application.

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Ben Turner is an MNU Certified Evidence based nutritionist whose passion is centred around demystifying nutrition, fitness, and health for everyone to understand and develop empowerment from.  You can see more of Ben’s work at www.21stcenturybody.com.