Saying “No” to Crash Diets

“Diet" is a confusing word. It can mean "the customary food and drink of a culture, a person, or an animal." It can be a medical protocol. But most of us know "diet" in its more insidious incarnation, a temporary and highly restrictive program of eating in order to lose weight.

If you’ve ever been on a “diet,” the restrictive and temporary kind, you’ve likely experienced gaining back what you lost. But diets are supposed to help you lose and then maintain weight, not gain it back.

So, what’s up?

Back in the 1940s, researchers in Minnesota studied what happens in the body after an extended period of getting only 50% of caloric needs. The answer: metabolic rates drop significantly—partially due to an evolutionary advantage where the body uses fewer calories during times when there is less food. For our ancestors, when the hunt failed or there was a drought, this metabolic drop kept them alive. 

Once there is more abundance, however (like after you get off a crash diet and can eat anything in your kitchen), the body has another metabolic response programmed in by evolution: “post starvation hyperphagia.” A hormonal response to limited access to food that causes people to overeat way past what it takes to replace the lost weight once there is abundance again. 

This is why it’s important when starting KatyKeto to understand that you’re not embarking on another crash or fad diet, but rather you are coming to build new habits that you can keep for life. This is your second week of starting to replace your breakfast and lunch for KatyKeto. Know you are taking steps to a personalized way of eating that supports you in the long term, not just the short term.

In contrast to people today, our ancestors did not consume three regularly spaced, large meals, plus snacks, every day, nor did they live sedentary lives. Instead, they were occupied with acquiring food in ecological niches in which food sources were sparsely distributed.

Seeing food as some kind of diet is something our ancestors did not do. They saw it as fuel, as medicine, as a way of being in touch with their bodies and nature. It’s why Intermittent Fasting works and crash dieting doesn’t. Our bodies aren’t built for fad diets, they are built for long term, gentle care.

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