POPULAR DIETS - OVERVIEW AND PROBLEMS
The rules of the most popular diets aren't as good as typically stated. In this article, you can read about problems of the most common nutritional protocols you've heard of.
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CUTTING CALORIES (CALORIES CONCEPT EXPLANATION)
The very common rule about lowering your caloric intake. Not only it is not very specifically described to be well implemented, but actually, increases a risk of muscle degradation and further developing sicknesses, especially if a continuous calories cutting occurs.
To read more about the concept of calories read THIS ARTICLE
There was a famous study showing that as long as you eat a little amount of fat - you can eat as much as you want. The low-fat foods became very common, and they still are to some degree. The problem with this study was the presentation of its results. Participants were told not to count calories (that is where the statement "you can eat how much you want" came from) only to avoid fat, but the food they have consumed was observed. A few of them did indeed lose weight. However, the essential information was ignored - the weight went down only in those people who ate a caloric load below their maintenance levels. This conclusion brings you back to the previous paragraph.
The other preached advantage of low-fat diets is the reduction in cholesterol levels. However, the adverse effects on other health aspects were again - ignored.
LOW CARB DIETS (KETOGENIC)
There is an additional, distinct way to split this type of nutrition in two - low carb diet and ultra low carb diet. With simply low carb diet, which usually restricts carbs to maximally around 50% of daily calories. It is not the best approach, as reducing carbohydrates only by a small degree does not cause a beneficial hormonal change in your body as ULC (ultra low carb) diet does.
With ULC diet (less than 30g of carbohydrates per day) your body stops making particular enzymes - that essentially converts carbohydrates to be stored as body fat. While following a regular low carb diet, your body still produces those enzymes and with added dietary fat consumption actually, makes it easier to store consumed carbohydrates in the form of body fat. (The phases of Atkins diet, for example - on which you are allowed to introduce more and more carbs).
The most preached advantage of low carb dieting is the constant low levels of insulin or limiting its release. As in the presence of insulin, your body is shutting fat burning processes - it should be a great thing. However, the important thing to understand is that insulin spike (not long-term elevation) stops fat loss for a relatively short period and enhances metabolism and fat burning hormones (i.e. leptin) for the next few days. Many of those hormones will not do their job without a presence of insulin. That is the reason why people who are constantly on a ketogenic diet (no insulin spikes whatsoever or very low ones for extended periods of time) after great results at the beginning, eventually, inevitably gain weight. That is the significant matter to note and consider while thinking about sustainable, efficient and effective fat loss - making use of your bodies hormones production cycles - which will be described later.
LOW GI (GLYCEMIC INDEX) CARBOHYDRATES
A widespread conception amongst people in the fitness industry. Usually, the low GI carbs are called "the good" ones or complex (basically more fiber content) and are considered to be the perfect tool for a well-made diet. In general - the primary goal of those carbs is the same as in the low carb diets - to control insulin levels. The harsh truth though is that no matter of an amount of carbohydrates consumed - you are still getting an insulin response - and a temporary pause in fat loss processes. The problem with those low GI carbs is that it keeps insulin levels elevated for a longer period thus elongating this stall in fat burning BUT not spiking insulin levels high enough to get an increase in fat burning hormones. It causes the same gradual decrease in metabolism as prolonged low carb diets, inevitably causing a stall of progress and a greater chance of storing fat again.
Mention worthy is the fact, that almost all beneficial effects of low GI carbs are associated with fiber content (which is at the very bottom of Glycemic Index scale). More information you can read below.
EATING 6 OR MORE SMALL MEALS A DAY
Probably one of the most common principles preached by almost every fitness related maven. Also - one of the least efficient to follow and maintain (preparing lots of different meals for every day). At first, it seems logical - your body, with a constant nutrients presence, won't feel the need to store any of it. However, the research (started incredibly long ago) show something different. Lots of studies were made, and the conclusion is simple - this rule will work ONLY with calorie intake below maintenance level - which again brings you to previous paragraphs.
Additionally, particularly in conjunction with other principles - you get multiple low, long-lasting elevation of insulin per day - the perfect environment of not losing body fat, but, only maybe, other tissues (weightloss). A state, in which in the long term view - sets you for failure. There is another reason for this - ghrelin - hunger hormone. Your body gets used to certain eating schedule and releases ghrelin according to it. It makes it even harder to maintain a diet based on this principle.
EXERCISING PURELY FOR WEIGHT LOSS
When you think about a perfect exercise for weight loss, you probably have running or cycling in mind. Generally - a steady state, cardio type of workout. Unfortunately, those types of exercise are inferior for fat loss compared for example with resistance training. Even then, in most cases, research shows that it is nutrition that is the main tool for reducing fat (compared weight loss in lots of people who trained with those who just started a diet). - THAT IS A MASSIVE GENERALISATION TO ACCENTUATE THE IMPORTANCE OF DIET. Actually, the most important goal of exercising is glycogen depletion and translocation of the GLUT4 transporter, which has its particular role - complex topics, explained in THIS ARTICLE and The Universal Diet Online Book.