Everyone has at some point or other been a victim or knows someone that has fallen into the trap of fad dieting. Keto, Paleo, Military Diet, Intermittent Fasting, Diet Pills, etc. The problem is these fads feed off of your fears and insecurities. The fact is with most of these fad diets all you actually lose is water weight and muscle which can be damaging at best and you still retain actual fat. Studies conducted by Lasing, et. al. concluded that,
"Fasting caused an acute drop in the blood glucose level, which was restored upon resuming normal eating. Total cholesterol dropped drastically immediately after the first fasting cycle but rebounded 15% higher than baseline before dropping down. Fasting also temporarily raised uric acid levels, blood pressure, and body temperature. HbA1c and waist and hip circumferences were not affected by fasting." These diets may allow you to lose weight rapidly but it is important to consider what you are giving up to reduce numbers on a scale. The issue with these diets is that they are based off of people buying into the fact that the scale determines their health or their worth. Instead we should focus on overall health, body measurements, body fat percentage, blood pressure, strength, and cardiovascular health. Instead of focusing on losing water weight and muscle, focus instead on increasing strength and seeing food as fuel, not a restriction or a punishment. Look at weight as a small part of the overall image of health. If one already has a diet poor in vitamins and protein, eating less food could lead to vitamin deficiency and muscle loss. Of course, this can be offset by taking multivitamins and doing strength training. Fasting can also lead to malnourishment if taken to an extreme...says Richard Bloomer, chair of health sport sciences at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. (Collier)
Dr. Stephen Freeland states that, "Caloric restriction, however, has been shown in research to produce many health benefits,[...]. Reducing obesity alone could prevent or slow the progress of a number of diseases, including cancer. The goal is to reduce what he calls "global caloric intake." If someone can fast two days a week and then eat normally for the other five days, that goal could be achieved. Yet data on fasting suggest that people who practise periodic intense caloric restriction tend to overeat later. "(Collier)
If you are looking for a "diet" instead try a lifestyle change. Focus on macronutrients, improve your protien, complex carbs and mono/poly-saturated fats. You also need to remember that weight loss is simply calories burned vs calories consumed. It is important to eat healthy, whole foods, and burn more calories than you consume. Fixating on the number on a scale can have mental health effects for you and your loved ones. "By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life."(Smolak). This is even more evident if you have younger siblings or children that observe how you treat food and fitness. When we deem ourselves or when society deems us over-weight it can lead to various problems. " Weight-based victimization among overweight youths has been linked to lower levels of physical activity, negative attitudes about sports, and lower participation in physical activity among overweight students. Among overweight and obese adults, those who experience weight-based stigmatization engage in more frequent binge eating, are at increased risk for eating disorder symptoms, and are more likely to have a diagnosis of binge eating disorder." (Andreyeva).
The thing to remember is that your body is powerful and it is a thing to be loved, not loathed. Social media can make it difficult to percieve yourself as something positive, but it is also important to remember that pictures on the 'gram are not always as they appear. A focus on self love, healthy eating habits, and a fun and enjoyable fitness regimen will help increase health, stamina, and strength without focusing on a number. Strongwoman Andrea Thompson is 5'5 and weighs 390lbs but has set world records when it comes to strength including 621lb elephant bar deadlift, and 463lb squat. Strongman Eddie Hall is 6'3 and weighs 363lbs but his records include the elephant bar deadlift 1, 025lbs and squat 893lbs.
Size is not indiciative of health and it is far more important to focus on health and wellbeing and gains rather than looking a certain way based on societal standards (which change often and are regional). For more information about breaking poor body image thoughts check out the Self Love Project by Grrrl founder Kortney Olson. For more information about eating disorders check out the National Eating Disorder Association.
Andreyeva, T., Puhl, R. M. and Brownell, K. D. (2008), Changes in Perceived Weight Discrimination Among Americans, 1995–1996 Through 2004–2006. Obesity, 16: 1129–1134. doi:10.1038/oby.2008.35 Collier, Roger. "Intermittent Fasting: The Next Big Weight Loss Fad: CMAJ." Canadian Medical Association.Journal, vol. 185, no. 8, 2013, pp. E321-2. ProQuest, https://search.proquest.com/docview/1427436425?accountid=11033. Liang, Ooi S., and Pak S. Cheon. "Short-Term Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss: A Case Report." Cureus, vol. 11, no. 4, 2019. ProQuest, https://search.proquest.com/docview/2249645623?accountid=11033, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.7759/cureus.4482. Smolak, L. (2011). Body image development in childhood. In T. Cash & L. Smolak (Eds.), Body Image: A Handbook of Science, Practice, and Prevention (2nd ed.).New York: Guilford.