diet combined with exercise can help you lose weight and get fit. But if you are constantly feeling tired and coming down with illnesses, it may be time to reassess the diet you follow to lose weight. Keep in mind that most weight loss diets, read fad diets, have little impact on fat, but more so on muscle tissues and can pose various health issues in the long term. And such diets can work against your fitness goals by leading to weight gain, as your mind anticipates a famine situation, and directs the body to store additional fat. It’s best to ensure you get the right amount of carbohydrates, proteins, good fats, minerals and vitamins.
“Most weight loss diet plans that target calories are nutritionally deficit. Depriving the body of crucial nutrients can lead to short-term weight loss, but long-term health problems. The most affected is your metabolism; slowing down of metabolism can lead to weight gain. Such diets also affect immunity leading to colds and viral infections. Chronic deprivation leads to the body running on fewer calories and storing food as fats, rather than burning them off,” says Dr Deepti Bagree, Head of Department-Healthcare, RESET: Holistic Living Concepts.
In the long run, the lack of essential nutrients may end up causing chronic illnesses, such as inflammation, altered moods, migraine, dementia, arthritis, osteoporosis, acidity, malnutrition, hair loss, and night blindness.
Keep in mind that the one-diet-suits-all approach is wrong as every individual’s body composition is different. “The selection of diet needs to be multifaceted and depends on your age, weight, physiological condition, physical activity, health goal, food preference and allergies,” says Dr Bagree, adding, “One can adjust the proportion and type of nutrients one consumes but should not skip a whole food group to meet the goal.”
Not being able to reach your fitness goal, despite putting in hours at the gym and following a rigorous diet is one of the clues that you aren’t doing it right. Here are some of the other lesser-known signs that you are on an unhealthy diet:
You have bad breath
This is not just caused by bad dental hygiene, it could also signal a bad diet. “Low carbohydrate diets shift the body to burn fats leading to the build-up of ketones which make the breath smell,” says Dr Bagree.
Your hair is falling
While we all shed hair in moderation, hair fall can also be caused by nutritional deficiency. “Lack of iron in the diet can lead to low haemoglobin levels in the blood which affects the passage of oxygen in the body. An iron-deficient diet may then lead to fatigue and thinning of hair,” says Dr Bagree.
You suffer from migraines and acidity
Health issues like flu, falling ill frequently, acidity or migraine could all be linked to a deficient diet. “Right from the brain to the gut, we need to feed every cell and organ of the body without which the body deteriorates. Balanced meals are essential if we want to live a happy and fulfilled life,” says Kothari.
Energy levels are low
Tiredness may be normal, but if you are tired first thing and all through the morning, it may signal a serious condition. “Calorie deficit diets leads to a feeling of lethargy and tiredness all day round as they lack in important nutrients and carbohydrates, which is the preferred source of energy to the brain,” says Dr Bagree.
You feel hungry all the time
Are you perpetually thinking about your next meal, especially after you have just had a meal? It may indicate an incorrect diet. “Being hungry even after eating your meal points to a deficiency of fibre,” says Kothari.
You suffer from depression or memory loss
Most crash diets are low on healthy fats leading to a build-up of bad fats in the body. “You can notice mood swings while you are on a crash diet, which happens due to the lack of synthesis of serotonin, the happy hormone. Crash diets can also cause depression, irritability, low concentration and loss of memory,” says Dr Bagree.
Your bones are weak
Crash diets are not recommended for people who are in their menopausal phase as they are already at risk of weaker bones. “These diets lead to further loss of bone mineral density leading to frequent fractures, says Dr Bagree.
Instead of going on a fad or crash diet, it is better to make changes in the quantity and quality of food that you eat. Kothari suggests that instead of yo-yo dieting, you should include a rainbow of fruits and vegetables which are healthy yet yummy meal options.
“Opt for unrefined oils over refined ones, rely on local fresh produce over processed foods, restrict consumption of packaged foods, control the portion size and practice mindfulness while eating for success in reaching the target weight,” says Dr Bagree.