BY the age of 45 the average woman has been on 61 diets.

If ever there was a statistic to stop you dieting then that should be it. If we’ve had to try 61 diets by our mid 40s (that’s more than two diets per year from the age of 18) then it’s blindingly obvious that diets do not work.

But why exactly don’t they work and what should we do instead?

Low calorie diets often fail to provide proper nourishment which can have disastrous effects.

Diets make us think short term ’fix’

When we think of a diet, we think of it as something that will see us temporarily deprived of foods we love so that we can lose the weight we need to shift. By making a temporary commitment we’re setting ourselves up to make some really stupid choices. Let’s be honest here, how many times have you said to yourself “I’ll start my diet on Monday” or “I’m going on a diet until my holiday next month”?  And what exactly happens before Monday or after the holiday?  My guess is, you binge on all of the foods you love washed down with plenty of vino (or whatever your favourite tipple is) before starting and after finishing your ‘diet’. 


Ditch the diet


Diets cause hormone imbalances

A significant factor in whether we gain or lose weight is our hormonal balance. Crash diets can cause our body to go into starvation mode which sends our hormone levels into a tail spin, making sustained weight loss difficult to impossible.  

Levels of peptide - which suppresses appetite - drop, while levels of ghrelin - which stimulates appetite - rise.  Even more worrying, levels of leptin - which both suppresses hunger and increases metabolic rate - also fall significantly. These changes don’t just happen whilst you’re on the diet, they remain long after you’ve returned to your pre-diet eating patterns.

To summarise, you get hungrier and hungrier, therefore you eat more. Your metabolic rate is lower (thanks leptin!), therefore you burn less calories. The Result? You gain fat and are back to square one!

Traditional diets don’t take a holistic approach to the body

Yes you might lose weight on a diet, but are you doing your body good or harm? Low calorie diets often fail to provide proper nourishment which can have disastrous effects. 

If we don’t provide our body with the correct nutrients, our muscle mass will decrease.  From reading my previous article: Lift Weights To Lose Weight  you’ll know that lean muscle tissue is a key to healthy, sustained fat loss and any diet that you follow should be programmed to feed and nourish the muscles to build lean tissue not deplete it.

As ladies of a certain age we have spent our adult lives battling our hormone cycle and are subtly preparing to do battle with the next phase – the peri-menopause and menopause.  As we’ve seen already, low calorie diets aren’t designed to support proper hormonal function something that is key to a healthy peri-menopause. See my article: Peri-menopause And The Muffin Top for more information. 

Perhaps even more worrying is the fact that yoyo dieting has been found to be linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, strokes and impaired immune function in later life. I don’t know about you, but I for one would certainly like to avoid all of those.

So what should you be doing?

You need to start nourishing your body. I work with my clients to help them to understand what different kinds of foods do to their body so they can make healthy choices for life.  We don’t discuss diets, we talk about nutrition and nourishment, because when our body is properly nourished it naturally becomes a fat burning furnace all day every day.   

Eat nutritious, fresh, natural foods instead of dietingEat nutritious, fresh, natural foods instead of dieting

Eating nutritious fresh, natural foods will pack your body full of essential vitamins and nutrients which will not only help you to shift weight but can also help you manage your stress levels (Is stress making you fat?) and benefit your body in lots of other ways.  For example, check out my article Magnesium – Power Mineral and the Peri-menopause And The Muffin Top article here on Body Confidential to see how important good food is for a healthy life.

Here’s to a fit, healthy and happy life after 40!

Sara Perry is a Personal Trainer & Development Coach passionate about helping women over the age of 40 live fitter, happier and healthier lives. 

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