Is dieting damaging your body?
April 25, 2022


Dieting is a multi billion dollar industry worldwide. But is dieting actually damaging your body?

And conversely dieting is probably one of the worst things you can do for your weight, your body and your health.

But here is the thing about dieting. There’s no evidence people are becoming slimmer as a result. In fact, the opposite seems to be true.

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions worldwide. In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and older were overweight. Of these over 650 million adults were obese.

When I talk about dieting, I am talking about the toxic cycle of restriction and overeating. This cycle causes feelings of guilt, shame and hopelessness. These are nothing compared to the physical damage. So ask yourself is diet damaging your body?

The word diet has gotten such a bad reputation because of the toxic culture it’s associated with. Diet just means the type of food you eat and we need to take back the meaning. When I created the Protein Priority Diet I did have second thoughts about using the word diet but I went ahead. I did this because I want the meaning of the word diet associated with health and wellbeing instead of toxic weight loss culture.

Dieting damages your mental health

Children as young as 3 show signs of having body image issues. Read that again! Three years old and you’re already aware of your body image. That should make us feel ashamed of the messages that we are putting out into the world through the media. Traditional or social. The fact is that the media is overwhelmingly male and so everything is through the male perspective. Unfortunately this includes how we should look. Hardly any of us look like the bodies we see in the media and on TV and in films.

Constant comparison is exhausting because we fail the test every single time. Supermodel Cindy Crawford is famously quoted as saying “Even I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford”. What hope do the rest of us have? Companies use this comparison to sell us teas, shakes, soups, ready meals, pills, injections and surgeries. It’s just one big toxic marketing practice and we are the victims.

Dieting harms your physical health

The problem with dieting is that many people will continue to restrict calories and nutrition even when other health markers start to get worse.

Not sleeping well? It’s ok, it’s a small sacrifice for the lower number on the scale.

Painful periods or bad PMS? That is ok, I am getting slimmer.

Hair falling out? Oh I heard that’s a symptom of weight loss, that is a good sign!

The desire to be slim at all costs is damaging your body

This desire to be slim at all costs is rife in the diet industry. Especially when the vast majority of the big players don’t even work.  In one study,  3 years after participants finished a weight loss program, only 12% had kept off at least 75% of the weight they’d lost, while 40% had gained back more weight than they had originally lost.

This is because commercial weight loss programs teach restriction and reduction. They don’t practice metabolic protective weight loss methods. They teach you to go harder, faster and longer until you “get there”.

By the time you get there your body is suffering from negative metabolic adaptation. This negative adaptation means that you are burning less calories, your body’s systems aren’t functioning properly and your thyroid and hormone health are suffering. This is NMA (Negative Metabolic Adaptation).

Is dieting damaging your body?

If you are an expert, chronic dieter I am going to hazard a guess and say yes. I know this is happening because:

  1. I’ve have been there myself
  2. Every day in my own weight loss programs there are stories of chronic dieting
  3. Emails asking me for help daily

In other words, if you are eating 1200 calories as a grown adult then you are a victim of negative metabolic adaptation caused by chronic dieting. Dieting is damaging your body by slowing down your metabolism, disrupting the balance of hormones and restricting your nutrition.  This is NMA (Negative Metabolic Adaptation).

The signs of dieting damage to look out for

Do you know the signs of NMA (Negative Metabolic Adaptation) to look out for? I am not here to scaremonger about all weight loss programs. Eating whole food, at a slight calorie deficit is an amazing tool for health and weight loss. Dieting, done right, can be powerful enough to heal chronic illness and reverse Type 2 Diabetes. But dieting done in the wrong way, by chasing the number on the scale while other health markers decline, is proof that dieting is damaging your body.

Knowing the signs of NMA to look out for, watching for any changes, and putting a preventative plan in place can stop the negative metabolic adaptation and help you stay healthy and vital as you lose excess weight. It is possible!

Know the signs of NMA (negative metabolic adaptation) damage caused by dieting

  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Sore muscles when exercising (without too much exertion)
  • Weight gain
  • Dry, cracking and bleeding skin
  • Sensitivity to cold and hot temperatures (not able to adapt quickly)
  • Brain fog
  • Insomnia or bad sleep quality
  • Acne
  • PMS
  • Heavy periods
  • Menopause symptoms
  • Hair loss
  • Split, peeling and brittle nails
  • Anxiety/depression/low mood
  • Not coping with stressful situations/inappropriate emotional reactions
  • Diarrhea/constipation/bloating
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low pulse rate

It’s quite the list isn’t it and this is by no means comprehensive. If you go to the doctor with these symptoms you’ll likely leave with a prescription for antidepressants, a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome and advice to lose weight.

Break the damaging dieting cycle

When you first join the Protein Priority Diet, you start with the Metabolism Recovery Plan. This is the antidote to the damage done by chronic dieting. You need to eat more. More calories, more carbs, more fats and more protein. 

If you have been battling your weight your entire life, chances are you have NMA. The only way to fix it is to eat more.

You will probably gain weight.

If you recoiled from the screen when you read that, then you are definitely deep in toxic diet culture. I call this Healing Weight Gain. It is a necessary part of the metabolic recovery process. You need to gain weight to lose weight.

Metabolic recovery done right

Metabolic recovery done right doesn’t mean you’ll gain 10kg weight. It might be a few kilos but it’s a small price to pay for health and ultimately weight loss that is sustainable. Think of it like a pension payment. You might baulk at the money leaving your account every month to go into your pension plan. But 65 year old you is going to be so grateful that you did that.

This minor, temporary weight gain is going to help heal your metabolism. It will allow your body a feeling of safety. Safety knowing that calories are plentiful, nutrition is deep and restriction is a thing of the past.

In the Protein Priority Diet we do reverse dieting and a small calorie restriction during cut periods. You are only ever in a slight calorie deficit for a maximum of 30 days. Then in the next stage we move into our reverse dieting Bridging Weeks. This is a metabolically protective practice that helps people lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way. You learn maintenance as you lose weight. And there is no NMA!

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