So many of us have felt the consequences of overindulging on the weekend. By Monday, we are swearing to be back our our healthy diet foods.
When I first started learning about health and fitness in high school, I thought diet food was great! It was lower-calorie which meant I got to eat more food!! SCORE!
Then, I figured out — just like most things — you can’t cheat the system. Your body needs the proper nutrition in order to function properly and help you reach your health goals.
Eating 100 calorie packs, chugging down Coke Zero, and eating the rest of my calories how I wanted left me weighing the same and feeling so tired. I also had headaches like a big dog, and my digestion was terrible.
If diet food has less calories, how does it make us fat though?
Purdue did a study on this question by feeding rats diet foods sweetened with artificial sugars like those found in those tasty diet sodas and 100-calorie packs. They found that the rats fed with artificial sweeteners had the same effects I felt while eating those processed goodies. Why? Purdue stated the effects were because our bodies were confused by the unnatural ingredients, saying “in normal conditions, the arrival of a sweet taste in the mouth helped prime the metabolism for the arrival of a calorie-heavy, sweet meal into the digestive system” — source
Other studies have found the same results. Below are two direct quotes from established studies along with a link to the full article.
Two years ago, scientists at the University of Texas reported in an eight-year study that for every can of diet soda that a person drank, he raised his risk of being overweight by 41%, compared to a 30% increase in drinkers of regular, sugared drinks. – Source
Another study done at the University of Alberta found, “The animals in [the] study were able to predict the amount of calories in a food based on taste, demonstrating that the body uses cues like taste and texture to make sure it’s getting enough fuel.” -Source
The second study made sense to me.
I’ll admit it, when I first started watching my weight I had about 7 pounds to lose. I had switched from regular Coke to Diet Coke to help my waistline without going caffeine-less. I felt proud of my decision. This resulted in me justifying an extra snack or upping my portions. Why not? I was saving at least 170 calories a pop!
The same scenario is common for people that are just starting to workout. You totally CRUSH your workout. You burn like a bazillion calories. Then, you eat! Gotta refuel right? Well, those bazillion calories usually are about 250-700 calories. A bag of M&Ms have 250 calories. A Wendy’s doublestack has 420 calories. Even the “healthy-option” can pack a suprise — The Peanut Power with Strawberry has 680 calories! So one shake after your workout could add those calories right back in! EEEK!
So if “normal food” makes us fat, and diet food makes you fat — then what’s left?
Going back to the basics.
Think about what our great-grandparents ate. Fresh foods and meats grown locally. These foods are tradionally lower calorie, have less chemicals in them, and the ingredient list is so much shorter. In addition to these points, our bodies are meant to be fueled by foods found naturally on earth — cavemen did not have Oreos. No, you don’t have to go all “Caveman diet,” but consider how many chemicals and additives are in each bite you eat.