Can Dieting Cause Weight Gain?

February 16, 2011

The simply answer to that question is, "Yes, dieting can cause weight gain". However, the cause may be more complex than just a reaction to dieting. It may well be a mix of several factors that cause weight gain, even though you're on a diet.

Truth told - dieting can make you fat. It is a long known fact that when you go on a diet your body reacts to the reduction of food intake by putting itself on a famine alert. Your body believes that food is scarce and therefore does its best to preserve your life by storing the fat that is necessary for survival. Your metabolism slows down in order for you to get by on limited rations.

What Do We Mean When We Say "Diet"?

It is important to clarify what we mean when we say we want to lose weight. In fact, what we are really saying is that we want to lose fat. Rapid weight loss means a loss of fluids, muscle mass and lean tissue. The reason this happens is because our bodies are programmed to hold onto fat as a means of survival. So, when it thinks there is a famine (read diet) it will go right into survival mode and begin to break down muscle and release water in order to hold onto the fat reserves that will ultimately be necessary to keep you alive. It is quite a remarkable thing when you consider it. Your body is bent upon keeping you alive, no matter what the cost.

Fad diets may promise you a weight loss of up to ten pounds in one week. Hold this tiny bit of information in your memory - it is physically impossible to lose more than two pounds of fat in a week. Any more than two pounds of weight loss in a seven day period means you are losing muscle and water.

What Happens When You Radically Cut Calories

Now, here's some information you probably won't want to know, but it is very important for you to understand. If you lose weight quickly by cutting your food intake and then you go back to eating normally, your body will store a higher percentage of the food you consume as fat. It does this as a means of preparing for the next famine (your next diet). Add the fact that your metabolism is skewed every time you crash diet and you've got a recipe for fat gathering. When you crash diet, your metabolism slows down in order to save energy and to optimize the calories you do consume. When you go back to eating normally your body deals with the calories at a much slower rate than it would had you not dieted.

Do Diets Really Work?

Does that mean that diets don't work? If approached properly and maintained for a short period of time and if "re-entry" into normal life is governed by quality lifestyle changes, then they do work. However, if a diet is used as a means of quick weight loss with little regard to the way you will resume eating, then they can be a trigger to weight gain.

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