Does Dieting Make You Fat?
Are you about to start a diet or buy a meal replacement? Then stop!
The latest research – and probably your own personal experience – shows that crash dieting eventually causes people to binge eat fattening foods. Is this why 95% of people re-gain all the weight they lose when they diet? Quite possibly.
Researchers have discovered that following a calorie restricted diet causes an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which is problematic in itself, but even more disturbingly, that dieting causes changes to the DNA in the genes that control our appetite and stress response, changes which remain even after returning to the pre-diet weight.The hormones that regulate appetite also remain unusually high eventually leading to stress-induced binge eating once there is a return to a high fat diet.
What does this mean for you and me?
If you starve yourself by, call it what you like: meal replacements, protein shakes, calorie counting or over-exercising, then your body freaks out, sending out the mayday hormone cortisol which changes you at your very core: your DNA. Once you give up the starvation (which you will do; no-one can live on cup-a-soup and protein water forever) and start eating normally again, your levels of cortisol remain high, making you more prone to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, and the hormones which once made you eat only when you were hungry and stop when you were full are now in full flight famine mode, making you eat when you’re full and not stop when you’re bursting. The combination of the two will now make you much more likely to reach for chocolate than carrots when you’re stressed as well as making it very difficult to exercise any self control when you come face to face with the fattening foods you’re trying to avoid.
Other research has shown that overweight women have higher cortisol levels over a 24 hour period and that this increase is associated with a preference for fatty foods such as fat and carbohydrates. The high cortisol levels are also associated with a greater waist circumference, independent of overall body mass index.
So in summary: you go on a diet, dieting increases cortisol, cortisol makes you want to eat carbohydrates and fat, you put on weight, you go on a diet…