Limiting Diets or Eliminating Diets

by Sarah

Spud Fit” Man has lost 22 pounds with a goal of eating nothing but potatoes in 2016

This headline definitely caught my attention! I’m sure everyone out there has heard of a diet that limits a certain macronutrient, food or drink, or even as crazy as only eating potatoes! Some of these restricting diets tell you not to eat or drink anything with carbs, cut out all fats, or even tell you not to eat any fruits or vegetables. Many of these restricting diets also claim that you will lose ___ amount of weight in as little as ___ days. Not to mention that many of the diets out there sell supplements, or also talk about other lifestyle changes like getting more sleep and increasing physical activity. With so many of these restrictive or supplemented diets out there, are you left wondering if these really necessary? 

Some of the first questions that run through my head when I see a restricting or “fad” diet is:

  • Is it cutting out important macronutrients that our bodies need in order to function such as carbohydrates or fats?
  • Is it eliminating a certain foods or drinks such as no dairy or fruits?
  • Is it suggesting meal replacements or supplements?
  • Is it suggesting other lifestyle changes such as more exercise, more sleep, or even less exercise?
  • Is what the diet suggesting going to be sustainable, meaning would I be able to live this way for the rest of my life?

A rule of thumb: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

As a health coach, I have met with many people who have completed diets programs, have had success, and then once the diet is over…POOF! The weight is back on. Or they have had success with a program and attribute the majority of their success to the diet or supplements that they took during the process. When I meet with those who have tried or are on a restrictive diet, I ask them other questions such as:

  • Do you think you will be able to maintain this diet/program for a long time?
  • Did you change other things in your life as well like working out more or ridding your cupboards and fridge of processed foods?
  • Did you see the long term results you were hoping for?

So why put ourselves through a “diet”? To make things a little easier, why not just adapt a few healthy habits at a time and see results that will continue to last? They may not be quick fixes, but they are more likely to last for the long haul. A diet doesn’t have to mean that items are restricted. It could be as simple as eating a little less and making healthy food and drink choices, and moving a little more. Our weight loss or management really boils down to a few things: calories in versus calories out, resting metabolic rate (RMR), and Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).

Calories in versus calories out is another way of talking about balance. If you take in the same amount of calories as you expend in a day, you will have weight maintenance. If you take in more calories than expended, weight will increase. If you expend more calories than you take in, weight will decrease. Crazy right? Then the next question is how many calories do I need each day? That is where resting metabolic rate (RMR) and Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) come in. RMR will help you determine how many calories you typically burn while at rest (breathing, digestion, etc.). Also, think about your physical activity level and how many calories you burn while moving by determining TDEE. Use the RMR and TDEE calculators to help determine how many calories you typically burn versus how many calories you take in per a day. A great way to track calories in versus calories out is to use the MyFitnessPal app.


Like I said before, many of us look for a quick fix to help with weight loss, but in reality the tried-and-true method for weight loss or maintenance is as simple as an overall healthy lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, we all live in the real world of fried foods, sugary drinks, and salt galore, and that’s ok! Remember – moderation! As for myself, I always try to think ahead. If I have a not so healthy choice, I think about where else during the day I am going to burn those calories. That way I don’t feel as guilty about having it. Think of things as a “treat” and not a “cheat”, and remember that just because you made one bad choice for the day doesn’t mean that the day is over! Sticking with a positive mindset is always helpful in reaching any goals you may have. So let’s say goodbye to the limiting diets and say hello to a long, healthy lifestyle.


Be Well,



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