Do any of you follow fitness junkies on social media? I follow several—several that I am super fans of…however, typically I am a fan of their workouts and not so much of their nutrition advice solely because many of them have not had nutrition training…and yet they are promoting nutritional advice that could ultimately be detrimental to one’s body. I will tell you why.
For instance, one of my favorite fitness guru’s recently began selling protein powder—no big deal. I am not against protein powder, especially if you truly are working out your muscles hours in a day and need the extra protein to help rebuild your muscles. I also think protein powders can be beneficial when added to smoothies or oatmeal that way you can consume protein to balance out carbohydrates. However, what I am not a fan of is when people advertise these “nutritional shakes” as a meal replacement and then promote to use it twice a day. Sure, these “nutritional shakes” may have all the nutrition a person needs—but you are getting it all from powder chemically made in a factory. There is no true food, whole food fiber or chewing which may lead to low satisfaction and satiety (the feeling of fullness), meaning that you may be likely to overeat the next time you get your hands on food.
Let’s say you drink these shakes religiously for a while as your main source of nutrition. You lose the weight you wanted and you start eating real food again. Many people end up gaining all the weight back because they did not learn how to eat real food to get adequate nutrition and calories. They relied so much upon these shakes that were low calorie and convenient that they either: A) forgot how to eat or B) never learned how to eat healthfully in the first place.
Another issue with some of the faces of fitness is the promotion of “energy kickstart pills”. These pills are supposed to increase energy, suppress appetite, burn fat, and speed up metabolism. You know what else increases energy? ENERGY! When we eat food, our body receives energy, or “calories” that we need to maintain major organ processes in the body. Our body burns these calories so we can live! Calories are not bad, they are helpful. When we eat too many calories and do not expel extra calories by way of exercise, then weight gain occurs.
My second problem with these kickstart pills is that they suppress appetite. We want our bodies to tell us when we are hungry. A major problem with Americans is that we do not know our hunger cues, so we eat when we are bored, depressed, or stressed. Many times we go for second helpings of food because we do not wait for our body to tell us we are full. When we disrupt our already messed-up hunger cues by taking these pills, our cues get even more out of whack. It is so important to know when our bodies are hungry so we can feed them sufficiently. When you starve yourself, your body does not eat the extra body fat you’d like to get rid of…it eats muscle. We want to build muscle and burn fat—starving yourself is not the way to do that.
Ultimately, these products are selling and yes, of course they work. When you restrict calories by only drinking nutritional shakes you are going to lose weight. When you take these caffeine pills twice a day to suppress your appetite so you do not eat, you are going to lose weight and have caffeinated energy. And during this time you may go from a size 4 to a size 0…but what is going to happen when you stop using these pills? Or let’s say you use the pills and supplements the rest of your life…but you miss out on the joys of eating real, whole, nutritious foods?
Would you rather take these supplements for the rest of your life so you can be a size 0 but be empty and irritable because you are not in line with your individual hunger cues and missing out on the joys of food–or rather be a size 4 and learn how to make healthful decisions from nutrition experts (aka registered dietitians) to feed your body and have a healthy relationship with food?
For me, it is a no brainer. I will eat a nutritious, plant-based, low refined grain diet, enjoy food and exercise regularly to make my body happy rather than take these processed, factory supplements to lose weight I may gain back…besides…thick thighs save lives, right? J
I challenge you to learn how to eat healthfully without having to drink meal replacements and swallow diet pills…our bodies were made to eat energy, not restrict calories.
Until Next Time,
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN