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    Healthy weight loss and the dangers of fad diets

    February 19, 2021

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    Low calorie, Low carb, Keto, Vegetarian, Vegan, High Protein, Sugar Free, Flexitarian, Raw Food Diet, Intermittent Fasting, Volumetrics Diet, Bretharian, Mediterranean Diet, Paleo, 5:2 Diet, Alkaline Diet… the list goes on.

    So what is the healthiest way to lose weight and improve your overall health and wellbeing?

    Firstly, to not always believe what you see or hear out there in the overwhelming and saturated weightloss market.

    From our experience as a collective at Garden of Vegan, we can conclude that diets are not a long term solution for your health and longevity.

    It is estimated that 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Statistics from the United States show that only 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by the media.

    Alarming statistics are also starting to present on male body image dissatisfaction, causing just as much concern for men today as it does for women.

    No wonder the weight loss and diet control market was reported to be worth $72 Billion dollars in the United States in 2019.

    One thing that we seem to be missing is the link between healthy weight management for long term health.

    When it comes to our health as a collective, current statistics from the Australian Beaurea of Statistics show that over two thirds of the population, which is estimated to be 67% of adults are either overweight or obese. The terms overweight and obesity refers to excess body weight or body fat, which according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare is a risk factor for many diseases and chronic conditions, as well as being associated with higher rates of death.

    “Excess weight, especially obesity, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some musculoskeletal conditions and some cancers.” - AIHW 2020

    If you are a serial dieter and have been struggling with yo-yo dieting and are not sure who or what to believe, you are not alone.

    It is important however, to stop putting a label on dieting and to assume that one diet fits all.

    Our daily actions and lifestyle choices may be impacting our health just as much as what we put on the end of our forks.

    Lifestyle choices like;

    Are you getting enough sleep and deep sleep at that?

    Are you moving your body enough?

    Do you have healthy relationships?

    From the statistics, we can agree that everybody is different and our health requirements vary during different stages of life. Not only what we are eating but what lifestyle we choose to live each day may be impacting on our physical, social, mental and emotional states of health and wellbeing.

    The good news is, the one thing we can control today is what we choose to put on our plates.

    According to the World Heath Organisation, many people today are not eating enough fruits, vegetables and wholegrains. WHO recommends a diet encompassing high quality foods that are unrefined and minimally processed.

    The AIHW states that less than 1 in 10 adults met the recommendations for daily vegetable consumption. AIHW also states that Inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption is directly linked to increased risks for CVD, type 2 diabetes, CKD and overweight and obesity.

    “A plant-based diet is more likely to produce good health and to reduce sharply the risk of heart problems, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, gallstones, and kidney disease. -T. Colin Campbell

    At Garden of Vegan we believe in lifelong change that can be sustained, not a quick fix or fad diet.

    Yes, some fad diets may provide weight loss results in the short term, but it’s important to think about your body not only now but in the future.

    Hear what our resident Certified Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner, Psychologist, Naturopath and Dietitian Robyn Chuter has to say about healthy weight loss and a plant based diet.

    Stats on obesity

    Australia is now the fifth fattest country in the developed world. Over two thirds of Australian adults are heavier than their healthy weight, with 31% being obese and 46% overweight. And our kids are too plump too: 25% of children and teens are either overweight or obese.

    Our expanding national waistline isn’t just making us look bad in skinny jeans; it’s actually causing us to slip backwards in the international life expectancy league table. Back in 2003, Australian males had the fourth longest life expectancy in the world, and females the fifth longest. But by 2015, males had slid back to fifth place and females to seventh place - and the experts agree it’s mostly because we’re too fat, and we’re getting fatter faster than most of the other rich countries in the world, . If we don’t tackle the obesity crisis soon, researchers predict we’ll be in the tenth spot for overall life expectancy by 2040.

    How to lose weight healthily, for life, with plants

    A wholefood plant-based diet, with no added oil or sugar, and limited intake of high-fat plant foods (nuts, seeds and avocadoes) is the ideal eating plan for healthy and sustainable weight loss. A diet centred on vegetables, fruits, legumes (dried peas, beans and lentils) and whole grains is:

    1. High in micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidant and phytochemicals) which support energy, immunity, and the health of your brain and skin;

    2. Low in energy density, allowing you to eat satisfying portion sizes while effortlessly reducing your kilojoule/calorie intake;

    3. High in fibre, which fills you up and keeps you full for longer after eating, so you’re not tempted to snack on unhealthy foods; and

    4. Abundant in high-quality plant protein, which helps to maintain your lean mass (muscle and bone) while you’re losing fat.

    Research demonstrates that this way of eating boosts metabolism by increasing the after-meal calorie burn, improves insulin sensitivity, and dissolves fat out of your liver - the most dangerous place to store fat!

    Why fad diets don’t work

    Diets that prescribe tiny portion sizes, replace actual meals with powdered shake formulations, cut out healthy food groups such as fruit, or slash carbohydrates - the preferred fuel source for most cells in your body - are unhealthy and unsustainable. Any weight that you lose on an eating plan which is so out of step with your body’s evolutionary history and nutritional requirements, will be regained as you go off the diet.

    Fad diets are deficient in micronutrients (which is why supplements are so often prescribed by those who recommend them), and can contribute to the development of eating disorders in people who are prone to them.

    If fad diets worked, there would be no need for a new one to come around every year or so!

    Why restrict calories and how to know how much is right for you

    It’s a simple law of physics that you can only lose weight if your body uses up more kilojoules/calories than it absorbs. While many people believe that exercising more will help them lose weight, this isn’t always the case. Sure, physical activity does cause your body to burn more calories, but it may also make you hungrier, causing you to eat more calories than you would if you weren’t working out.

    Regular, enjoyable physical activity is essential for the health of your body, mind and soul, and is a great compliment to a healthy eating plan, but shouldn’t be thought of as a primary weight loss strategy.

    Luckily, a wholefood plant-based diet with limited intake of high-fat plant foods is high in water and fibre, and low in fat, which allows you to achieve a calorie deficit while eating generous portions of delicious, nutrient-rich foods.

    Dropping your energy intake by around 500 calories (2000 kilojoules) per day is generally recommended for healthy, sustainable weight loss. This is very easy to achieve on a wholefood plant-based diet with no added oil, as long as you limit your intake of nuts, seeds, avocado and coconut products. Just fill up your plate with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, all of which have a low energy density, and you’ll achieve the energy deficit needed to shed extra kilos, without even trying.

    If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, have a history of disordered eating, or have yo-yo dieted in the past, you may need to speak to a health professional who is knowledgeable about plant-based nutrition in order to tailor your eating plan to your unique requirements.

    For more information connect with Robyn Chuter at; or via her Facebook page, and LinkedIn.

    Here are some of Garden of Vegan’s top tips on how to lose weight without dieting and how to healthily manage weight for life:

    1. Eat more plant-based wholefoods!

    Eat as much fresh fruits and vegetables as possible.

    By just eating real foods, meaning plant-based wholefoods, you wont need to worry about the calorie counting or the stress that can come with dieting protocols.

    We support the latest scientific based evidence approach towards health and nutrition that supports a wholefood plant-based lifestyle, for your health and the future health of the planet.

    A WFPB approach to dieting is based on eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and wholegrains, whilst eliminating any refined or processed foods.

    2. If it’s not a wholefood as mother nature intended, don't eat it.

    Remove any refined oils, refined sugars, preservatives or additives and any heavily processed foods. If it comes in a packet with a list of ingredients that aren’t real wholefoods, give it a miss.


    3. Exercise daily.

    Movement is essential for healthy weight management and overall health and longevity. Whether it be HITT training, weight lifting, long distance swimming or a social dance class, get moving daily.

    4. Make mindfulness a daily practice.

    Find a meditative practice that is right for you. This could be walking, yoga, breath work, drawing ect. Take time out of the day to connect with yourself, to breathe deeply and intentionally all whilst presently practising your form of mindfulness.

    5. Prioritise sleep and follow your circadian rhythm.

    Our circadian rhythm works by balancing the time we are awake and asleep throughout each 24 hour period. It is based on our body's ability to become alert and active during daylight, in order to carry out our daily tasks. And it works to help us wind down at the end of the day naturally, producing melatonin at night to help us sleep.

    Find a routine in the afternoon that prepares your body for sleep naturally. Try minimising screen time at least a few hours before bed, limiting fluorescent lights in the night, eliminating fight or flight activities, and even by reducing stimulants such as caffeine in the afternoon.

    6. Do what you love each day!

    Live on purpose and with passion as much as you can each day.

    7. Live in community.

    “People who are lonely and depressed are three to 10 times more likely to get sick and die prematurely than those who have a strong sense of love and community. I don’t know any other single factor that affects our health - for better and for worse - to such a strong degree.” -Dean Ornish, MD