Starting a diet can be a really fun, exciting place. Motivation is high, you’ve got a plan, and you’re ready to execute. No one needs help starting a new diet, but do you have a plan for when the diet ends? This list is the top 6 reasons to end a dieting phase, besides reaching your goal weight.
- Lack of energy:
When you’re deep into a dieting phase, your energy naturally drops. Your body recognizes the absence of calories, and tries to adapt by getting you to move less. You want to end a dieting phase when you can barely get through your day, you have low libido, you’ve stopped getting excited to workout, and you’ve grown generally apathetic about everything. At the very least, this is a sign that you need a diet break of at least 2 weeks, where you bring calories back up to your maintenance levels.
It’s a good idea to get bloodwork done before a dieting phase, to set a baseline and ensure you’re generally healthy before you go on a diet. Dieting is a significant stressor, and you want to make sure a diet will contribute to your health, rather than making you unwell. Ideally you want to screen for thyroid and sex hormones, as these tend to be sacrificed first when dieting. On that note, if you’ve lost your period from dieting, that is a big sign it’s time to end the diet.
Have you started avoiding social situations involving food? Are you constantly thinking about food? Are you counting down the minutes until you can have your next meal? Then it’s time to pull the plug. There’s no point of continuing a diet, if it’s leading you to disordered eating patterns.
- Stopped losing weight on low calories:
Generally, low calories are considered to be 10-12x body weight in pounds. If you’re not losing on already low calories, do not lower your calories further. Your body just needs a break. Bring your calories back up to maintenance for several months, then you can safely drop back into a diet. Our bodies were not meant to be constantly on a diet.
- Sleep Disturbances:
Do you wake up feeling exhausted? If you were previously a decent sleeper, a sudden change in your sleep quality is a sign to stop dieting. Cortisol changes occur in prolonged dieting, leading to trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting quality sleep.
- Poor adherence:
Are you frequently going off plan? Do you find yourself in the pantry, munching on chips, unsure of how you got there? In this case I would suggest working on improving your food quality, rather than focusing on calorie restriction. Follow a 80/20 rule, to allow for more flexibility.
While pursuing weight loss can be a really rewarding experience, improving your quality of life, it’s important to be aware of the signs when the diet is no longer working for you. No amount of weight loss is worth sacrificing your mental health, relationship with food, and your general wellbeing.
And remember, your weight is the least interesting thing about you.