Fad diets help to lose weight, but they can also hurt your brain


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Keto, carnivorous diet and other restrictive diets are popular. It's because they work often. People adopt the diet and sometimes achieve dramatic results, but often in the short term.

"Does not he / she look great?" Do you often here. But my question, as a dietitian, is: "Yes, but how feel? "

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You see, restrictive diets, or diets that force you to eliminate foods or nutrient groups, can have negative effects on your brain.

Here are three that I often see in my work with clients.

1. Increased cravings can become obsessive.

Tell someone that he can not eat peanut butter in his diet (ahem, Paleo) and that he's more likely to want peanut butter . Tell them that they can only eat a few lean carbohydrates a day (ahem, keto) and that all flat-bottomed pizzas, pastas and breads all look even more delicious.

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"It's an inherent behavior of people," says Brierley Horton, a dietitian in Birmingham, AL. "It's like a child who is told that he can not do or touch anything and that's all he wants to do and usually ends up doing it. Tell me that I can not eat carbohydrates and that all of a sudden I see carbs everywhere and that's all I'm thinking about.

Some people will tell you that cravings are the way your body tells you the nutrients it needs. These people are wrong. No clinical research has ever shown that this old chestnut nutrition was true.

"The urge to smoke is not based on a need for nutrients, it stems from self-deprivation," says Horton.

2. Cutting food groups deprives the brain of the necessary nutrients.

Take carbs again. Carbohydrates provide your brain with glucose, an essential fuel for everything from the most basic tasks to the most complex tasks. About a decade ago, when the low carbohydrate diet began to gain popularity, researchers studied the effects of a lack of carbohydrates on the mood of dieters. In fact, study participants who ingested a few carbohydrates reported a generally poorer mood than those who had a diet that included carbohydrates.

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And it's not just the brain that's deprived of it. Carbohydrates are not just processed products like pizza and white bread. They include whole grains, vegetables and fruits. And if you do not eat these foods, you are missing fiber, antioxidants and many other vitamins and minerals that are essential for your body to function properly and for its optimal performance.

3. Close monitoring of nutrients can lead to eating disorders.

Research shows that restrictive or elimination diets can promote eating disorders.

"Dieting is the leading risk factor for developing a eating disorder," says Marci Evans, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and certified supervisor in the field of eating disorders.

In a study of women, those who followed a rigid diet (compared to another deemed flexible) reported symptoms of a eating disorder and were concerned about their size. Rigid dieters also generally had a higher BMI. I've seen this happen in men too.

Some key signs indicate that your diet has become problematic or disordered. "If your diet ignores the natural signs of hunger and satiety of your body, creates more food obsession and leaves you feeling guilty or ashamed, it may be time to consider that your habits are doing more harm than good." says Evans.

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That said, "not all people who follow this type of diet will feel anxiety or guilt over food choices, but whenever rules are created, you create a condition of" good or bad " "Good or bad," which adds an emotional layer. complexity of our relationship with food, "says Kara Mohr, Ph.D. (She is my wife, but also the co-owner of our nutrition consulting company, Mohr Results.)

The bottom line: I'm not saying you should never try the last, hottest diet. It can even work for you. But if it does not work for you mentally – even if it works for you physically – you may want to reevaluate.


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