Podcast Episode 3 Transcript – 5 Thoughts on Aggressive Dieting

The Ideal Nutrition Podcast

Aidan

00:00:08 – 00:00:50

Welcome back to The Ideal Nutrition Podcast. This is episode 3 and today we’re going to be talking about thoughts on aggressive dieting. For starters, I really just want to talk about, like, why are we talking about it? The first one for me is that it’s not really something I’ve used with many clients or anything like that. In practice, I’m more just talking about it because I’m interested and I’m not advocating or anything like that. I’m more just thinking that we should keep open minds and be aware there is a possibility. It is something that could be useful for some people. Probably not most people, but for some people, it could be useful. So, handing over to you, Leah like, why? Why are we thinking about this topic? Why are we even discussing it?

Leah

00:00:50 – 00:01:15

I think this is an interesting topic, because aggressive dieting, in general, is very much demonized by general public as well as health professionals. So not so much doctors. But talking to a lot of dietitians, you’ll often hear lose the weight slowly and sustainably, and then you’re more likely to keep it off. But when we look at the actual statistics around that, weight regain, no matter how you do it. And like …

Aidan

00:01:15 – 00:01:37

Weight loss no matter how you do it, like it doesn’t seem like the statistics are actually, um, that positive anyway. The saying that gets chucked around is like the quicker people will lose weight, the faster and more likely they are to regain weight. But like, is it like, what would you say? The likelihood of people regaining weight is?

Leah

00:01:37 – 00:01:38

Just in general.

Aidan

00:01:38 – 00:01:41

Just in general, just in general, talking about faster. So just as a general kind of rule.

Leah

00:01:41 – 00:01:49

Yes. So, looking at the research, you know, year after losing the weight, we’re looking at regain rates of about 80%.

Aidan

00:01:49 – 00:02:22

Yeah, it seems like about 80% of people who lose weight regain weight like there’s so many different versions of that statistic and stuff like that. But no matter where you look, it is pretty high. And like, if you look through the research and try and find an intervention where a large group of people followed a certain intervention without bariatric surgery or anything like that, just like general diet and exercise kind of intervention over a three-year period or something like that. You’d be hard-pressed to find any group where they’ve lost a significant amount of weight on average.

Aidan

00:02:22 – 00:03:00

And like that kind of fact alone, like the fact that it’s incredibly hard to find something like that at all, even though it’s clearly something that, like the world cares about, um, it speaks kind of volumes that, like the statistics for slow weight loss as well, are pretty grim. I just think in the real world we see people lose weight quickly and regain it. We see it happen. We aren’t seeing a lot of people losing weight slowly and maintaining as well, like it does happen. But they are outliers, just like people who lose weight quickly and maintain it, like they’re both outlier situations. And I just kind of want to challenge the hypothesis that the quicker you lose weight, the quicker you regain it, because, like the evidence isn’t really showing that anyway. It just looks like both are kind of

Aidan

00:03:00 – 00:03:03

kind of rough routes to go about anyway. They’re both hard to do.

Leah

00:03:03 – 00:03:15

And it may, like that weight regain. Being super common might not have anything to do with how you actually lose that weight and more to do with what you do, post-weight loss, more than anything.

Aidan

00:03:15 – 00:03:23

Yeah, or if you don’t even get to the point where you’re trying to maintain it. Like what’s the next step? Is it the more important thing, I think more so than how you got there.

Leah

00:03:23 – 00:03:40

Yeah, I agree. Aggressive dieting is not feasible for everybody. And there’s definitely going to be, possibly a higher level of non-compliance when you are trying to do something very aggressively. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s worse off for everybody.

Aidan

00:03:40 – 00:04:12

And to talk definitions of aggressive dieting, like I’m not really one for definitions or anything like that. But just to get clear about what we’re talking about, there’s two kind of definitions I’d go with. The first one is a little bit less aggressive but still falls into that category. It’s still pretty hard to do. Still have to make some pretty major changes. Is losing, say, greater than one kg per week for an extended period of time for somebody who’s under 100 kg. Like you’d obviously scale that number if somebody is significantly above that, you might go a little bit higher than that, but losing greater than one kg per week for an extended period of time.

Aidan

00:04:12 – 00:04:55

Pretty aggressive, not exactly slow and steady. But the other version and that’s what is talked about a lot more in research and stuff like that is very low-calorie diets. So, anything say, below 1200 calories, something that is quite aggressive. A very small amount of food, maybe even as little as 600 to 800 calories for a defined period of time basically. Um, so we’re going to be touching on really both of them, like almost interchangeably to a certain degree, even though they are kind of different things, we’re just talking about aggressive dieting in general. So, you were touching on who shouldn’t do it to a certain degree, a little bit, like, if you’re going to put in some categories of people who shouldn’t do it, who would you put into that category?

Leah

00:04:55 – 00:05:21

Definitely, as a number one would be people that do have some kind of history with disordered eating, are more prone to disordered eating patents, so if you feel, is there, that kind of harsh restriction, is going to either relapse you into an eating disorder. Uh, then it’s obviously not going to be best for you, long term. I think of this in regards to kind of binge eating disorder and bulimia.

Aidan

00:05:21 – 00:05:23

So, it’s a bit of a recipe for it.

Leah

00:05:23 – 00:06:05

Yeah, when that restriction is what causes that cycle to occur. So why would you do something super aggressive where the restriction is going to be really high? So that would be a group that, you know, if I was thinking of potentially doing aggressive dieting with a client that would completely rule that person out from that approach in general, uh, second one, looking at like more high-performance athletes. So, if you have some really high-performance goals and you need to go into key training sessions and hit certain marks, aggressive dieting might not be for you. It might not be the best approach if it’s going to make your training harder, and it’s going to reduce your performance output.

Aidan

00:06:05 – 00:06:43

Yeah, for sure. And like I want to touch on something with that because, like, I do agree 100% with what you said there, Um, there can be some exceptions to it, I think, is worth mentioning. There’s, just because I’m in this kind of world at the moment. I’ve been looking into it a little bit. But like there’s an example chucked around recently about a guy named Charles Peloquin, so some listeners might know who that is. Some might know it. I can’t remember the exact statistic, but apparently, he worked with, like, 260 something gold medals. Not gold medals, sorry, Olympic medalists, which is a pretty incredible track record. What he was doing was clearly at least attracting high-level athletes, maybe even helping them get to the next level and

Aidan

00:06:43 – 00:07:11

one of his sayings in regards to guys who are above 10% body fat, it’s a saying, I’m uncomfortable saying it, but they’re saying is something like, three licks of a dried prune and that’s all the carbs you get. It’s basically just saying, like if you have too much body fat for your sport, no carbs and at the other end spectrum, for people who needed to gain size, he’d get them basically having 200 grams of sugar around their workout, like you just go from one extreme to the other like no middle ground.

Aidan

00:07:11 – 00:07:31

And, that’s not a good idea. But like if in a lot of sports body composition matters, like if you’re in a sport where power to weight ratio matters, and you’re able to keep your protein high enough, you’re training and you’re doing everything like that and you’re able to maintain almost all of your muscle mass while you drop weight quickly, there is an argument that there is a place for that.

Aidan

00:07:31 – 00:08:03

At the other end of the spectrum. I just don’t think it’s the best way. I don’t think it’s the best way to go about it, in almost all circumstances. You could maintain your training performance pretty high, maintain even more muscle mass, do it in a smarter way, and just take longer to get there. This is just like, the reason I’m mentioning that example is like some rare athletes. That approach just resonates with them. They’re just like they’ve struggled to get lean any other way, and for whatever reason, that has been the thing that has worked for them, and I want to point that out just because he obviously had success with athletes. It is an option, which is the whole point of this, like this whole thing, is about it being an option, not necessarily the best of the smartest approach. But it is an option.

Aidan

00:08:03 – 00:08:09

So, anyone else that you think would fall into this kind of category, of not being a good idea for?

Leah

00:08:09 – 00:08:50

Generally, anyone that finds it unappealing. I think if you know that really restrictive approach isn’t going to work for you, I think that’s a reason enough not to do it. If you know a slower, sustainable approach is going to have more compliance, then sure, it makes sense. So, if it’s not suitable for your lifestyle, I think the biggest thing that comes to mind is, you know, you have a couple of kids and a family at home. It can be hard to maintain a really restrictive diet in that context. So, if you’re eating completely different to what the family is eating, as opposed to a slower, sustainable approach where it could just be smaller modifications, perhaps it’s not the easiest thing for you to manage, even if it is a short period of time.

Aidan

00:08:50 – 00:09:21

Yeah, and that also feeds into something that I think is super important outside of this topic. But in general, for anybody who cares about their nutrition, is being a pretty consistent type of person. Whenever you say you’re going to do something, probably it makes sense to follow through to a certain degree in that. Like if you’re doing some form of weird diet and an aggressive diet is, it’s a weird diet like you have to make drastic changes. It’s not a great idea to eat differently from your family,

Aidan

00:09:21 – 00:09:45

and then not follow through, as in like, do it for a week, like kind of making it a bit of a hassle for your partner and stuff like that, and then a week later, just go back to normal. Like they’re not going to like ask, where’s the boy who cried wolf situation, like next time you want to do something, they’re not going to be supportive if you’ve just been jumping around from thing to thing. So, you want to follow through, that’s not necessarily about this, but that’s about like everything, tradition, yeah.

Aidan

00:09:45 – 00:10:06

And, the other thing I want to touch on with this about people who probably shouldn’t do it, is if you’ve tried something like this before, particularly multiple times, and it hasn’t worked for you, like it’s a bit of a red flag. It’s a bit of a sign. This isn’t the approach for you. And I’m saying that because I see that a lot. I I’ve seen friends go through it. I’ve seen clients and stuff like that. I’ve seen like people go through it

Aidan

00:10:06 – 00:10:23

and they keep jumping back to that same thing. And they’ve never tried a slow and steady approach. They’ve never tried a bit of moderation. They have always gone from one extreme to the other. That’s a bit of a red flag and a bit of a sign that this approach shouldn’t necessarily be something you should be looking at as your first-line approach, basically.

Leah

00:10:23 – 00:10:46

And I think that’s where a lot of the demonizing of this approach comes from, is people that do try that multiple times in their life and find that they have zero success with it. Like anything in nutrition, just because something doesn’t work for one person doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not going to work for somebody else. So, I think that’s just something to consider, just in this topic in general.

Aidan

00:10:46 – 00:11:11

So, back to I guess why we’re talking about this. Why would somebody do this? Like what would be the benefits of doing it? From my perspective, there’s, three things I really want to talk about. One, motivation from seeing results. I think this is a huge one, going back to my early days as a dietitian, I was a big believer in that kind of snowball effect of you, you just change one habit at a time. I don’t know if you, did you do that?

Leah

00:11:11 – 00:11:16

A 100%, that’s where we all start right. And then we find that it doesn’t work for everyone.

Aidan

00:11:16 – 00:11:52

Yeah, I’ll be honest. My first few clients, I was just like, I’d change like, if they have chocolate after dinner, I’ll change that. And I’m not even joking, they’d like switch it for ice cream, or something, it’s just like they didn’t like, I don’t know. Or like I thought, easy wins, like you switch. It’s funny cause I’ve made a post about yogurt today on Instagram, I’d be like, oh, you switch your high fat, high sugar yogurt for a low fat, high protein yogurt and you’ve saved, I don’t know like 50 to 100 calories there. You make three other switches like that, and you’ve saved like 200 calories, and it starts the snowball from there. But it doesn’t. There’s a variety of reasons, like you can talk about hunger, you can talk about like, I don’t know, that’s a very deep rabbit hole to go down.

Aidan

00:11:52 – 00:12:25

But like, what I found works for me, not necessarily aggressive diet, but like making significant enough changes to get good results in the first couple of weeks. If I look and I used to keep stats, I don’t actually do this anymore. I used to keep stats on all of my clients, and the results they got, and people who got results in the first four weeks, were the ones who got killer results over six months. The clients who didn’t necessarily get great results in the first four weeks, a lot of them got good results eventually, but a little slower, so it’s food for thought in that, like it took a while to get onto what we’re working towards. But like motivation

Aidan

00:12:25 – 00:12:43

makes it easier because a lot of, particularly in the calorie deficit. It’s a sacrifice, anyway, you’re already working hard anyway, like you want to see that you’re getting a reward from it, because you’re making a sacrifice. You want to see that it’s working. Those are my thoughts on that. Do you want to talk about time frames and, like why that might matter? Like if it’s a shorter time frame, how that could affect things?

Leah

00:12:43 – 00:12:58

Yeah, so, for people who I, always think like, if you’ve got 30 40 kg to lose and you’re doing that in a slow and sustainable way, I think that’s a really hard process to buy into because you think.

Aidan

00:12:58 – 00:13:00

It’s like signing up for a multiple-year diet.

Leah

00:13:00 – 00:13:33

Yeah, like you think I have to do this for three years and then maybe eventually, I’ll reach my goal. That’s a really hard process to buy-in. I don’t know if I would want to do that, so I completely understand where clients will lose that motivation. Initially. If you’re like okay, we’ll start losing 200 grams a week and kind of just go from there. So, in regards to timeframes when we’re talking about aggressive dieting, if you can get really good results in kind of eight weeks to three months, in a slow and sustainable approach, maybe that would take 1 to 2 years.

Leah

00:13:33 – 00:13:35

That’s a huge difference.

Leah

00:13:35 – 00:13:49

So, you just have to be very restrictive for a shorter period of time. And then you can go back to maintenance calories, which is going to be lower now that you’ve lost weight. But you can go back to somewhat of a normal life after that short period of time.

Aidan

00:13:49 – 00:14:00

Exactly. And like that’s the big one, because like the big thing we’ve talked about is like, it’s not necessary, it doesn’t matter what you do to get there. But that’s not the biggest factor, is what you do after, like as well. Like they both matter.

Aidan

00:14:00 – 00:14:26

the important step is like what happens when you get to maintenance and how do you handle that and whatever. But it’s kind of like if you got this defined timeframe, you get to the end of it. You achieve your goal. You get onto higher calories and coming back to what we talked about, like a multiple-year diet or something like that. Even if it’s like you’re trying to do habits that you can do for the rest of your life, it is restriction from two perspectives still. It’s one, you quite literally are trying to restrict, like that’s the goal. You’re trying to restrict your calories a certain amount, even if it’s not massively.

Aidan

00:14:26 – 00:15:00

But then two, when you are aiming for lower calories, you’ve got to make certain changes like you’ve got to restrict in certain ways and do all these kind of things to achieve that, getting to mention these colors quicker allows you to kind of undo a bit of the damage that comes along with that, the whole restriction mindset and stuff like that like, yeah, you’ve gotta restrict harder, but you get to the end goal quicker. Basically, as we’re saying, it is an option. And another thing we want to touch on with the benefits of this, I think I mostly want to be the one to talk about this section, like we’ve both been talking about, like type two diabetes and, like,

Aidan

00:15:00 – 00:15:32

there’s this one study that it’s kind of, it was actually the first study that opened my mind to this being a possibility. Before that, I was in the same camp as a lot of people where I was thinking the faster you lose it, the quicker you regain it, like I was one of those people. And then I saw this study that really challenged me, and that’s when I started looking into it. And it’s a study called the Direct Trial, and it’s in the UK and it’s on people with type two diabetes who are on medications, but they’re not taking insulin or anything like that. And one of the things we know with diabetes is

Aidan

00:15:32 – 00:16:09

losing weight typically helps with type two diabetes in that people become more sensitive to insulin. You can make arguments that reducing the fat around the pancreas allows the pancreas to put out insulin more easily, and it reduces their medication needs. And in some cases, people might even go into remission and no longer need medications to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. They can just naturally do it living day to day. And in this study, they did all these things that I thought were wrong. They gave people 800 calories per day coming from sheiks. I believe it’s for at least 12 weeks, based on their starting weight and stuff like that, and

Aidan

00:16:09 – 00:16:49

the good thing that they did, which is kind of what opened my mind in terms of like, it’s really about what you do next. You can do quote-on-quote silly things. But then, if you do it in a strategic way, it might pan out all right. After the initial phase, where they lost a lot of weight, and it was in the real world, it wasn’t just like in a controlled setting. They took away a shake, and they added a planned meal, which is like the classic plate model, the half-plate vegetables, quarter plate protein, quarter plate carbohydrates. And then after another two weeks or so or 1 to 2 weeks, they took away another shake and they added the meal. And then they took away another shake out of the meal, and then they transition to a healthy diet.

Aidan

00:16:49 – 00:17:19

And over the course of that, there was plenty of people who lost 15 kg or more, and the number that comes to my mind. I’m not 100% sure in this right now, but I believe it was. 32% of people in that study went to remission. In the control group, they had people go through the standard model of care for diabetes in the UK, and I’m not criticising that in any way. But it is just the standard model of care. And I believe at the end of the one year period I think it was, I think 4% went into remission, compared to 32%.

Leah

00:17:19 – 00:17:20

That’s a huge difference.

Aidan

00:17:20 – 00:17:50

Massive difference. And they’ve done a two year follow up on that. And basically, are they regaining weight? Yes, instead of the average rate being down something like, I don’t want to butcher this but I think it’s like 15 kg. They were down by like, 11 kg on average. So like they are regaining weight, not at a quicker rate than any other study. Like you look at any other study and you look at two years later and like they’ve gained at least 4 kg back, like that’s the average, like they’re gaining weight at a similar rate. But they lost more to start off with.

Leah

00:17:50 – 00:17:57

Yes, so at the end of the day, they are probably in a better spot than if they did a slow and sustainable approach and then gained that same amount of weight back

Aidan

00:17:57 – 00:18:34

100%. And if I’ve got any of those numbers wrong, like the overall premise is pretty accurate in like they were regaining weight, but they were regaining it slowly. It just blew my mind, because I’m like not even joking. That’s actually like one of the best studies I’ve ever seen in terms of diabetes management, and that doesn’t make me go and start using that with clients and stuff like that. But it’s kind of like we can’t just be like calling this approach rubbish when it’s worked better in certain settings than all the other stuff that we’re trying to do or most people are trying to do. That’s why I’m saying it’s worth keeping a bit of an open mind to this.

Leah

00:18:34 – 00:19:24

So, if you were to choose an aggressive dieting approach, there’s absolutely a few recommendations that we would give firstly, keeping your protein intake relatively high. So this could be from the perspective of preserving as much muscle mass as possible, but it can also be in regards to society, so we know that protein is a really good satiating macro nutrient, so having a higher protein diet can help with appetite management, and that goes for all kinds of dieting, whether it’s aggressive or not. You might want to consider Whole Foods versus shakes. So in a lot of the research, like the direct trial, they were using shakes. But there could absolutely be an argument, that using Whole Foods could help with appetite management and compliance. Although I know the researcher from the direct trial does believe that the compliance rate

Leah

00:19:24 – 00:19:26

from that study was because they were using shakes.

Aidan

00:19:26 – 00:19:36

He was in their outpatient kind of clinics like they do use whole food. But it’s like for the sake of a study like Let’s see you shake it is just so much easier to do in compliance probably will be higher as well.

Leah

00:19:36 – 00:19:51

Yeah, so if you have something there that you can, you can eat right away with no preparation, that may help with compliance with some people. But that might just be what you prefer in regards to whole food versus shakes. And maybe it’s a combination of both, depending on the person.

Aidan

00:19:51 – 00:20:00

I’d also touch on that as well, being like, this is very much if you’re going for the very low calorie style diet, like if you’re doing that like one kg plus per week, I’ll just go half of it.

Leah

00:20:00 – 00:20:16

Yeah, you wouldn’t do shakes in that case, it’s more if you’re doing that 6 to 800 calorie diet, super-aggressive, shakes might be the better option. But if you’re on a 1200 calorie diet, losing one kg of weight a week than Whole Foods would make more sense easy to transition off as

Leah

00:20:16 – 00:20:17

well.

Leah

00:20:17 – 00:20:34

From a practical perspective as well. Using shakes may cause some constipation and issues with digestion, so that’s always something to consider. You may want to combine the shakes with some vegetables or a fiber supplement. If you were to go down that route.

Aidan

00:20:34 – 00:21:12

The other edition, I’d say for any form of aggressive diet, whether it’s that kind of less aggressive but still aggressive diet of like one kilo per week or for a very low-calorie diet is, I’d be putting a time frame on it. I think this is the most important thing. Why I think this is important is, like you know, it was going back to the direct trial, and I’m like they took away a meal or they took away a shake and they added a meal. This is not how people do it in the real world. On average, when they start a low-calorie diet themselves, they usually have no end in sight. And they’re just doing it. Or they’re trying to do it all the way from their starting points. The end goal. And let’s use that kind of

Aidan

00:21:12 – 00:21:53

30 kg kind of weight loss as an example. If you think you’re going to try and drop 30 kg all in one hit on a low-calorie diet, it is possible. I just think the answer, like the probability gets pretty slim. And even if we’re going back to statistics and stuff like that once again, a large group doesn’t do that. Like it’s pretty hard to do, but it is possible, but, I would prefer to break it up, like there’s no reason you can’t do a timeframe of 6 to 8 weeks on this low-calorie diet. In that case, maybe drop 10 plus kilos or something like that if it’s very low calorie or just do the one kg per week kind of thing, doing that for a defined time frame.

Aidan

00:21:53 – 00:22:25

Because if it works, you’ve achieved what you wanted to do in that time frame. Then you’ve gone to maintenance, which I value that for a whole bunch of other things. But I’m going to talk about that in another podcast. If it doesn’t work, if you don’t achieve what you set out to achieve, you can also learn from that as well. Like I think about that, I’m going to use a bad example of a personal example. Like, I originally started my business straight out of university and it didn’t go great. It went all right. But like there was a few things that I did very poorly. And then I went to work for somebody else. I learned some stuff, spent a lot of time thinking about what I did poorly, originally.

Aidan

00:22:25 – 00:22:39

And then I started my business again. I didn’t make those mistakes again, or at least for a year, like it went all right for the first bit when I started again. Same thing with like, If you do an aggressive diet for a six-week time frame and it doesn’t go well, you’ve got an endpoint anyway.

Leah

00:22:39 – 00:22:40

100%.

Aidan

00:22:40 – 00:22:50

And you transition away. It makes sense, like you can then use that to learn from that experience and decide whether you want to do it again, rather than just like ramming your head against a brick wall and not necessarily getting the reward from it.

Leah

00:22:50 – 00:23:10

I definitely think it helps the mindset as well. If you know you’re going to do something from this state to this state and you know you just have to do and do that and restrict for that period of time, it’s going to feel a lot easier than if you go, oh, I’m going to try to lose 20 kg, no matter how long that takes. So from a mindset perspective, it makes more sense.

Aidan

00:23:10 – 00:23:46

Agreed. There’s merit to both kinds of routes, but I kind of like that kind of perspective, and the final thing that I just think this is the most important thing. Part of why the direct trial worked but also just important for all kinds of calorie deficit and stuff like that is to have an idea in your head of how you are going to transition to maintenance at the end of it, don’t just think about the diet. Think about what’s called like the diet after the diet. How are you going to transition to maintenance? Because I am a stupidly confident guy and I always assume success. I always assume that like the diet is going to take care of itself. You’re going to get as long as you want. You get to the endpoint. What’s next?

Aidan

00:23:46 – 00:24:16

You’ve got to at least think about what’s next. At the start of it. If you believe you’re going to succeed, like if you’re doing this, you should believe you’re going to succeed. So you should think about the next step. How are you going to transition away? Are you going to go straight back to match those calories? Are you going to slowly increase back up to it? Are you going to maintain some form of structure? Are you going to eat intuitively? Are you going to do whatever it is? You should have that in your mind, and you should have some form of plan for transitioning to maintenance calories at the end of it. Is there anything else you want to touch on that you think is important or anything like that. Or should we wrap up with that?

Leah

00:24:16 – 00:24:57

Yeah. So I think in general, like sustainability, like thinking about those long-term dietary habit changes, I think maintenance is where that is the most important. So building healthy habits to maintain your weight, not just building habits to lose weight is such an important part of the process that a lot of people neglect. And that’s what I would attribute to a lot of weight regaining in so many people is the fact they have not thought about. They’re healthier habits that they’re going to adopt post-diet. So I think trying to incorporate those as your dieting or having to think about you know what you are going to change post-diet, that is sustainable, and is a better approach.

Aidan

00:24:57 – 00:25:11

Perfect. We’ll wrap it up there, so thank you once again for listening. If you could please rate and review us on iTunes, we definitely appreciate that If you haven’t subscribed already and you’re on a platform where you can subscribe, I would also encourage subscribing. Thank you.

Leah

00:25:11 – 00:25:11

Closing sound.