My experience with dieting began a bit differently than most. I had no desire to lose weight, but since my family decided to go on the Whole30 diet as part of a collective New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, participating was easier than cooking for myself.
Similar to the Paleo diet, the Whole30 proposes egregious cutbacks on food. According to the program’s co-creator Melissa Hartwig, “Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it.”
The Whole30 relies on people constantly feeling bad, and only by stripping out all culinary indulgences will they realize how unhealthy they truly are. For 30 days, adherents to the regimen can only eat meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables without overstepping strict regulations.
As a relatively active person, a slight change in diet for the month of January didn’t seem like a major obstacle. Three days in, though, things got a bit more difficult.
At first, the weakness, exhaustion and headaches felt like a simple cold but then lasted much longer than any illness I’ve ever experienced. Three weeks in, I lacked the energy to do much of anything, including exercise, and my overall mood was worse than ever.
Low-Carb Flu (also known as “Keto Flu”), which I didn’t learn about until after the fact, turned out to be the cause of my malady. When the body lacks carbohydrates, lethargy and poor moods arise as the body becomes hypoglycemic due to low glucose levels.
When deciding where to cut sugar out of your diet, aim for the refined sugars of sodas, candy bars, sports drinks and in the quieter regions of condiments, sauces, yogurts and other foods.
Moodiness, lack of energy, even increased stress are the problems with most major diets. Eliminating an entire food group, as most dieters tend to do, deprives the body of the proper nutrients it needs to function.
Over the holidays, many of us eat exorbitant amounts of sugars and fats, and undertaking a restrictive diet is a knee-jerk reaction to caloric excess. For many seeking to lose weight, though, the Whole30 and programs like it may cause more problems than it solves.
Due to the easy exhaustion and irritation caused by a month-long case of Low Carb Flu, I actually gained weight. Once the diet ended, I dove back into all of the sweet foods, pastas and breads that I missed so much with a renewed vigor, and consequently gained ten pounds.
Deprivation diets are not the way to go to lose weight — or even to promote healthier eating. What they do is limit your body to certain food groups, meat and vegetables, instead of those evil, evil carbohydrates. But people still undertake these massive alterations in the pursuit of immediate results.
The outcome to fad diets is not what you think. Replacing one form of selective bad eating with another results in little change and a net bad for personal attitude. In the end, everyone is worse off.