Today, I begin my restrictive diet for 90 days. Your math is correct- that takes me through all the best food holidays- halloween, thanksgiving, christmas, and new years. Am I crazy?
In a word- yes.
This is a crazy project for me for several reasons, but mostly because I have built my brand on moderation and balance. In some phases of my career, I wouldn’t help clients to incorporate a restrictive diet at all. More recently, I’ve helped them build skills and observe their behaviors before, during, and after dieting.
I know there are wrong ways to do diets- because I’ve done them when I was young and desperate to lose weight. My actions never resulted in permanent weight loss and I’m not alone. Studies show us that if a person’s environment and behavior aren’t set up to maintain weight loss, they will almost certainly regain the weight they lost on a diet PLUS GAIN MORE.1
Why I decided to examine my current beliefs
Listening to several other (much wiser) professionals in my field led me to question my notions that a restrictive diet can NEVER result in long term weight loss. Certainly, for most people, treating behavioral factors is necessary BEFORE even attempting to restrict food or increase exercise- but what if those things are in place? Is it worth a shot?
Furthermore, my own anecdotal experience with health shouldn’t be discounted. At age 24, questioning my beliefs about my own capacity for change is what led me to my 80 pound weight loss in the first place. What a fool I would be to think there is no more exploration to do!
Here is why I think I will be able to maintain a restrictive diet:
- I have healthy behaviors already built into my everyday life.
- I understand nutrition, calories, and macronutrients.
- I am capable of planning and preparing my own meals.
- My environment supports it. My friends and family are excited to help me.
- I have addressed mental health issues and stress levels. I see a therapist and treat my anxiety.
- have physical activities that I love and that serve as stress release.
- love science and human behavior and that’s a great motivator to be a good test subject.
Why I chose Keto
For my diet, I decided to go with the most popular diet of today, the ketogenic diet. The challenge, of course, is that Keto is a VERY restrictive diet to maintain, and very low carb diets are the most likely to have issues with long term adherence.2 With the diet being roughly 70% fat and keeping carbohydrates to under 35g Net Carbs per day, there isn’t a lot of room for error.
My objectives are to lose body fat (within reason, as I am already a healthy weight) and maintain muscle mass. I know that caloric restriction is really what matters for fat loss, so I can achieve that on the ketogenic diet, as long as I maintain a calorie deficit.3 Keto also allows me to eat enough protein to maintain my current muscle mass.
The other thing that attracted me to this diet is that it seems to be marketed as the Bacon and Cheese diet. I plan to include lots of cruciferous vegetables, seeds and nuts, and berries. My carbohydrate allowance will be invested wisely. My hope is that by choosing this diet, I can illustrate that healthy habits should still be present, even with the Bacon and Cheese diet.
That’s it for now. My hope is that over the next 90 days, I challenge myself, become better able to help my clients, and maybe even lose a few pounds. Wish me luck! I’ll let you know how it goes along the way.
1.MacLean, P. S., Bergouignan, A., Cornier, M. A., & Jackman, M. R. (2011). Biology's response to dieting: the impetus for weight regain. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 301(3), R581-R600.
2..Fleming, R. M., Fleming, M. R., Harrington, G. M., Ayoob, K. , Grotto, D. W. and McKusick, A. (2018), Long‐term health effects of the three major diets under self‐management with advice, yields high adherence and equal weight loss, but very different long‐term cardiovascular health effects as measured by myocardial perfusion imaging and specific markers of inflammatory coronary artery disease. Clin Cardiol. Accepted Author Manuscript. . doi:10.1002/clc.23047
3.Johnston BC, Kanters S, Bandayrel K, et al. Comparison of Weight Loss Among Named Diet Programs in Overweight and Obese AdultsA Meta-analysis. JAMA. 2014;312(9):923–933. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.10397