Alisa Vitti on Why Your "Diet" Isn't Working
Have you been looking for that magic diet? Maybe you’ve been trying to lose weight or you believe a better food plan will afford you greater health. Whatever your reasons may be, you’ve likely been tempted by one (or all) of the popular diets trending in recent years.
But the truth is, a myriad of research reveals that the majority of dieters (we’re talking over 90%) will inevitably put all of the pounds they lose back on and then some extra too.
I should know -- I’ve tried it all! And it wasn’t until I figured out a way to eat for my hormonal health that the pounds dropped off for good.
Armed with my personal experience and professional knowledge, I want to break down some of the trendy diets you’ve undoubtedly heard of and have maybe been tempted to try. When it comes to weight loss and overall health, it’s crucial to take special considerations regarding your hormones. And many -- if not most -- diets don’t take that into account. Here’s why:
The problem with dieting ~
Most diets involve either cutting out or dramatically cutting down on major food groups and restricting calories while simultaneously undertaking a rigorous exercise regime.
The thing is that both of these strategies are highly problematic for your health, almost impossible to sustain, and horrible for your hormones!
Common diets like Paleo, Raw, and even the Madonna-approved, Gwyneth-endorsed Macrobiotic can make hormonal health issues like PCOS, PMS, infertility, endometriosis, cramps and heavy bleeding become much, much worse.
I’ve lost 60 lbs myself not just once, but twice in my life -- the first time in my early 20s and the second time after giving birth to my baby daughter. So I’m coming at this topic with an arsenal of practical skills and experience; believe me ladies, I have been there!
What your body wants and needs desperately is stability, not deprivation. Your body craves balance and hates extremes. This means any diet that involves restricting, starving, or obsessing is only going to cause your body stress -- the kind sourced in your blood sugar stability and your adrenals -- that will actually make your body hold on to fat for dear life, and then start signaling a health breakdown with all kinds of symptoms.
The diets that don’t work for women ~
Here’s a look at the kind of diets I know you’re hearing a whole lot about. None of these diets address female biology (most of them are even designed only with male biology in mind). All of them concentrate on a simple equation of calories in versus calories out, which, as research shows, is not sustainable for most people over the long term (meaning the pounds will inevitably come piling back on):
What it is: A high animal fat diet is the worst possible choice of estrogen-dominance based hormonal health issues like endometriosis. Bacon is just not good for your ovaries. Sorry! Yes, we need fat and protein, but too much and the wrong kind is hard for the body to breakdown in all of the places where estrogen is peaking.
Why it’s not for you: Women do need to eat fat to lose fat, but animal fats are not the way to go to achieve this. A study from Harvard researchers showed that women were 39% more likely to experience cycles without ovulation (a cause of estrogen dominance, as the body is not producing enough balancing progesterone) if they ate a lot of animal protein. However, the women who had the highest intake of plant protein were much less likely to experience a lack of ovulation (and therefore estrogen dominance issues), than those women who hardly ate any plant proteins.
What it is: A high in protein, lower fat, no-carb diet again.
Why it’s not for you: While there is a lot of great research on the benefits of fasting on long-term health, when you’re in the midst of a hormonal condition, this is a really tough road to go down.
Having tried this out myself as an experiment I can say that although this might feel great at first, partly because you feel like you’re doing the perfect ‘proper’ diet plan, when your hormones shift mid-cycle it is near impossible to fight your impending carb cravings. You will fall off the wagon and carb-loading ensues.
Any diet that is very low in omega 3 fats can also increase period cramps and heavy bleeding at the end of your cycle. While we certainly want to avoid carbs like sugar and wheat, we can choose to eat small amounts of soaked and properly prepared whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice, which are important to our hormonal balance if we struggle with blood sugar stability (most women do) or adrenal fatigue (also very common).
VEGAN / MACROBIOTIC DIET
What it is: This diet is high in grains, higher in soy protein, with moderate fats. If you choose to be completely vegan for ethical reasons, I totally get that. However, you will want to do an excellent job of cooking your food and having enough soaked grains and legumes to get adequate absorbable protein, as well as supplementing for amino acids.
Why it won’t work for you: This is a great diet for cleaning up house internally -- decreasing inflammation all around. But the glycemic impact and lack of amino acids can be problematic for hormonal conditions. We need the amino acids from protein to make our hormones. Too many grains can create a lot of gut dysbiosis and can decrease absorption of all the key nutrients that are required for hormonal balance. And of course, if you’re insulin resistant and have PCOS, this diet can make your symptoms worse.
MASTER CLEANSE / JUICE CLEANSE-BASED DIETS
What it is: A diet that requires an extreme calorie restriction is going to cause major issues for your blood sugar stability.
Why it won’t work for you: If your blood sugar is peaking and crashing like crazy, your body is not converting sugars properly (and remember many juice cleanses are fruit sugar-heavy).
Juice that you buy or make at home with a regular juicer often separates out and removes the fiber of the fruit and vegetables (which is needed for your body to better process the fruit sugars) and as such what you’re drinking, if it’s a fruit heavy juice, it's just pure sugar. When fasting like this, your body has none of the nourishment it really needs -- protein, good fats -- to make hormones or breakdown hormones. You might lose weight, but then it will come back and that fluctuation will cause your body stress and create an inflammatory response. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a good green juice, I do! I just sync how and when I juice to my body’s needs and I never only drink juice.
So, are you ready to ditch the diets?
I have been where you are. I’ve tried all the diets and nothing worked. Once I gave up the fads and started following my hormonal patterns and feeding them what they need, everything started working.
If you’re reading this, it means you’ve already found Sakara which means you’re off to a great start. The Sakara program resonates with me because it’s the anti-diet. It’s not about counting calories or depriving yourself. It’s about supercharging your body with micronutrients, and that’s exactly what I advocate in my own work.
All the diets mentioned above cause out of control hormones and erratic blood sugar levels that come from their more extreme eating patterns -- they rob your body and brain of the micronutrients that they need to create balanced appetite control -- neurotransmitters and balanced metabolism-boosting hormone levels.
But more than all of this, these diets don’t feel pleasurable. They don’t put you into a positive relationship with your body where you are eating, listening, and responding to how your body reacts to what you’re putting in. These diets are not based on your unique female biochemistry, they’re based on experiments that don’t take into account the effects on mood, energy, and appetite throughout the menstrual cycle. Ultimately, these diets are hard to stick with and they end up making you feel bad about your willpower and about your body.
Enough is enough! The solution you’re looking for is eating the foods your body needs for each phase of your menstrual/hormone cycle. This way you can optimize the levels of nutrients your body wants to balance the vital hormones that keep your metabolism working efficiently. You will, in fact, be revving your metabolism to keep you slim. When you eat in sync with your hormones, you will feel satisfied, less tempted by foods you should avoid, and happy to continue this “diet” (or lifestyle shift) for years to come. You want to lose weight, feel great and take charge of your health, right?
Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this -- the science of your body is on your side!
If your metabolism is in need of a total reboot, be sure to download the FLO Living 4-Day Hormone Detox!