WHAT THE DIET HOP DOES TO YOU OU

With so many hot new eat­ing plans promis­ing im­proved en­ergy, more lean mus­cle and men­tal clar­ity, it’s tempt­ing to try them all to find the per­fect fit. But jump­ing from one to the next has long-last­ing ef­fects, the lat­est sci­ence shows.

Shape (Singapore) - - Contents -

Sci­ence shows how jump­ing from one eat­ing plan to the next can do more harm arm than good.

Keto, Whole30, Pa­leo. Even if you haven’t tried them, you def­i­nitely know the names – these are the trend­ing eat­ing styles en­gi­neered to make us stronger, leaner, hy­per-fo­cused, and more en­er­gised. Each is founded on an el­e­ment of sci­ence and boasts an en­thu­si­as­tic fan club with rav­ing tes­ti­mo­ni­als all over so­cial me­dia. As a re­sult, they are pretty en­tic­ing. “Peo­ple want more con­trol over their health, and they know they have the abil­ity to manipulate their well­be­ing by eat­ing cer­tain kinds of foods,” says Dr Robert Gra­ham, co-founder of Fresh Med, an in­te­gra­tive health prac­tice in New York City.

The club as­pect also makes mod­ern di­et­ing at­trac­tive. Friends em­bark on the plans to­gether, swop tips and tai­lored recipes, and even bond over the dis­ci­pline re­quired of, say, the mono diet, in which you eat only one type of food. So it’s no won­der why fit women are diet hop­ping – ex­per­i­ment­ing with sev­eral, or all, of these eat­ing rou­tines in the quest for ad­ven­ture, a chal­lenge, and, of course, re­sults.

How­ever, while in­di­vid­ual di­ets may have real merit, ex­perts like Dr Gra­ham say that con­stantly chang­ing your food for­mu­las can have se­ri­ous con­se­quences if you do it too much or too of­ten. “Your body needs a con­sis­tent, well-de­signed eat­ing plan to stay healthy and not wreak havoc on your gut and me­tab­o­lism,” he says.

Here’s what to watch out for on these di­ets as well as the smart, ex­pert-backed strate­gies that will help you stay healthy, fu­eled, and fit on any eat­ing plan.

THERE ARE GAP­ING HOLES

The main con­cern with a diet that calls for elim­i­nat­ing en­tire food groups is that you’re miss­ing out on the key nu­tri­ents in those foods,” says Kris­tine Clark, direc­tor of sports nu­tri­tion at Penn­syl­va­nia State Univer­sity. Take keto, a su­per low-carb, high-fat diet. If you re­duce your carb in­take by skip­ping grains, fruits, and veg­eta­bles, you’ll fall short on fi­bre, an­tiox­i­dants, and pos­si­bly vi­ta­mins like A and C, she ex­plains. And even if you switch quickly be­tween di­ets, you’re still not safe from short­falls. “In just three days with­out cer­tain nu­tri­ents like vi­ta­min C, you can de­velop symp­toms of de­fi­ciency dis­eases like scurvy,” Kris­tine says. “So it’s es­sen­tial to have a plan for fill­ing in the gaps.” THE FIX Be­fore try­ing a diet, see which foods are off-lim­its, then find al­ter­na­tive sources for their nu­tri­ents. For low-dairy di­ets like Whole30, for ex­am­ple, swop in bone broth or leafy greens.

YOUR ME­TAB­O­LISM SUF­FERS

When you jump from one diet to another, your daily in­take can start to swing. Even if you stick with one diet for months, many of the most pop­u­lar plans don’t call for calo­rie count­ing, so you could end up con­sum­ing 2,000 calo­ries one week and 1,200 the next with­out re­al­is­ing it. That fluc­tu­a­tion is a prob­lem, says Dr Gra­ham. “If your en­ergy con­sump­tion isn’t con­sis­tent, it can slow down your me­tab­o­lism, so you end up gain­ing weight.” It can also mess with your hunger cues, leav­ing you ir­ri­ta­ble, ex­hausted, and hun­gry. THE FIX Spend the first few days of a new diet track­ing your calo­ries to make sure you’re stay­ing in a healthy range for you. For a 60kg woman in her mid 30s, for in­stance, that’s 1,500 to 2,100 calo­ries a day, de­pend­ing on your ac­tiv­ity level. If pos­si­ble, eat four to six smaller meals through­out the day to keep your me­tab­o­lism steady and your hunger in check, Dr Gra­ham says.

TRAN­SI­TION BE­COMES YOUR CON­STANT BODY STATE

Your gut and me­tab­o­lism take about three weeks to ad­just to new foods,” Dr Gra­ham says. If you’re try­ing a new diet every month, your body is con­stantly play­ing catch-up, and that can be hard on your sys­tem. THE FIX Stay on a plan for at least three weeks, then eval­u­ate how you feel. If you de­cide to quit, don’t switch im­me­di­ately to a diet that’s the po­lar op­po­site (for ex­am­ple, meat-heavy keto to carby ve­g­an­ism). A sud­den change in carb, pro­tein, fat, or fi­bre in­take can cause GI dis­com­fort or en­er­gydrain­ing blood sugar swings.

Rein­tro­duc­ing a food group also re­quires care. “Af­ter half a year with­out a food, the stom­ach’s pro­duc­tion of di­ges­tive en­zymes may change, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for you to process a food,” Kris­tine ex­pli­ans. Eat only small por­tions at first. If you ex­pe­ri­ence GI symp­toms or hives, see an al­ler­gist to find out if you have a food sen­si­tiv­ity.

When you jump from diet to diet, your daily calo­rie in­take can swing dra­mat­i­cally, which can lead to weight gain.

STOP THE HOP Stay on an eat­ing plan for at least three weeks to keep your me­tab­o­lism high.

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