The costume test is approaching, the nutrition expert: “Do-it-yourself diets risk the boomerang effect”

Summer is approaching, so it’s time to get ready for the costume fitting. As the hot season approaches, the desire to get in shape is more pronounced in light of the days to be spent on the beach or by a swimming pool.

The desire to show a beautiful physique increases, and many try to run in cover to remove the extra kilos: paying attention to the figure is helpful, but it is important to do so by adopting a balanced diet according to your lifestyle. We asked for advice from Francesco Cortisports nutrition biologist, who for several years together with his team of nutrition biologists and personal trainers has helped people improve their fitness and well-being through healthy nutrition and exercise.

Summer is approaching: how do we best prepare for the costume adaptation?

Behind this question hides a world. Instead of choosing between one or the other diet, I think that planning an appropriate “diet” is one of the most important aspects of it all. Ideally, it would be advisable to maintain an adequate physical condition most of the time, following a weighted and flexible diet, and then for some limited periods, such as before the summer, a more careful and precise diet, aimed at losing a few extra kilo. This long-term vision is essential for having a good relationship with food and for not having to go through a weight loss diet phase such as trauma or reconciliation. That said, when you want to face a period of careful eating behavior, it is important to set and then respect a specific start date. Second, it is good to set up a series of routine actions that fit well with our habits and our typical day, without forcing.

Explain to us

Thus, it will be easier to follow a weight loss plan closely for at least one or two months. On average, the desired weight loss is equal to 1-4 kg per month, although important changes in body composition can often occur without significant changes in the numbers on the scale, so it is advisable to also monitor the waist and evaluate aesthetic changes (for example, taking pictures) . Thereafter, it is advisable to gradually switch to a more flexible diet to reduce stress while maintaining the progress achieved. These seemingly simple rules are not easy to apply as food provides enjoyment and above all represents an important tool with which we deal with emotions. When chronic fluctuations are perceived between destabilizing phases of hatred / love for food, it is advisable to act on the mental framework, first and foremost, rather than searching for one diet over the other. Finally, it is important to set realistic and achievable goals. I believe that nowadays, also thanks to the world of social media, the aesthetic standards and perception of one’s image have changed profoundly, which unfortunately often spurs the search for improbable ideals.

Are DIY diets risky? What results can they give?

The most common risk when improvising a low calorie diet is to generate a boomerang effect or, absurdly, to gain weight. First of all, in the very early stages of the transition from an unregulated to a healthy eating behavior, the brain does not like it and sets traps aimed at sabotaging our plans. So, while dieting and weight loss continue, one inevitably witnesses counter-regulatory body mechanisms such as a greater feeling of hunger. Without a sufficient mindset (ie without a real motivation to change one’s habits) and without a sufficient context that helps us to be true to the plans, we will quickly find ourselves eating more than before and thus losing the results achieved . Furthermore, it is advisable to take into account from the beginning that the willpower is not constant and tends to decrease in moments of stress, joy and / or food temptations: one must be able to accept these moments of weakness without blaming itself. , and to compensate in other moments with greater concentration. That said, the risk of running into deficiencies is also real, especially when following extreme and prolonged diets over time. In the case of certain pathological conditions or in cases where restrictive nutritional regimes are followed by choice, there are very specific precautions to be taken with regard to the amount of the various foods and possibly with regard to the timing to be observed.

Are there foods that are better suited for summer?

The classic indications are to follow seasonal foods, to prefer foods with a low calorie density and to hydrate properly. But be careful: One of the biggest unconscious mistakes is to underestimate the calories from typical summer foods such as watery (e.g. many fruits) and cold (e.g. ice cream). These foods are generally perceived as less caloric than they actually are. Since these foods are a must in the summer, it will be the amount and frequency of their consumption that will make the difference between getting good results or not from the diet.

How much water do you need to drink to maintain proper hydration in our body?

I state that drinking is very useful in several respects. First and foremost, it helps to reduce the feeling of hunger. In addition, it promotes normal body processes such as the elimination of metabolic wastes, for example those derived from the processing of proteins (which, incidentally, it is good to increase a little when following a low-calorie diet). Furthermore, it is interesting to know that our body often confuses the signals of thirst with those of hunger, that is, we often think we are hungry when in fact we are thirsty. Regarding the amount of water to drink, one often hears mention of a fixed amount, typically 2 liters per. This indication has a predominantly psychological value as it generally increases the chances of maintaining a habit by setting yourself a goal for a long time. However, 2 liters of water a day may be insufficient: Just think of people who work in high temperatures or sweat a lot. There are many aspects to consider and in general we can at least extend the average demand range to 1.5-4 liters of water per day. In terms of “how” to drink, I think it’s more profitable and convenient to divide the daily income into a few more abundant daily shots, rather than taking continuous sips from the bottle. An exception should be made for those people who have stomach problems or nausea when they drink a lot and fast: In these cases, it is advisable to go step by step and possibly keep the daily water intake more divided.

In order to get in shape, in addition to nutrition, it is important to engage in physical activity. What do you recommend to those who are not particularly used to sports?

After several years as a sports nutrition expert, I can safely state that physical activity is a necessary and crucial factor for maintaining physical fitness over time and for avoiding harmful weight fluctuations.
Physical activity has great benefits for both mind and body: it helps you pursue your daily goals, including dieting, makes you mentally clearer, and makes you constantly energetic throughout the day. In addition, it allows you to better manage the calories consumed and allows you to follow a much more flexible and comfortable maintenance diet over time. Unfortunately, sport is still considered a luxury, a privilege for those who have free time or for those who are particularly motivated. This is misleading and wrong. Our body has evolved to move and to interact with the surrounding space. Since many jobs today are fairly sedentary, we have a duty to set aside a space, whether small or large, to engage in physical activity. For those who are not very used to sports, I recommend a good protocol of daily steps to perform as a physical activity at the ‘entry level’. In fact, over the years, I have greatly reconsidered going: it is within everyone’s reach, has a low systemic stress, and if performed for a long enough time, it is effective. For those who have some time, high-intensity exercises are very useful, which already after 30-40 minutes of application are effective both on the cardiovascular system and on the muscles. However, they require some preparation and planning because these exercises, if performed incorrectly, are likely to cause injury and / or soon become tedious.

What can you do to gain muscle mass?

If, when you think of exercises to improve muscle mass, you think that they are not something for us, that they are the privilege of young people with a lot of free time and / or bodybuilders, that there is no time to train them, etc. , beware: you are a victim of distorted and misleading prejudices. Increasing muscle mass is often important for achieving 360-degree well-being, and not just for improving aesthetics or sports performance: it will improve mood, glycemic stability, posture and more. And all this applies to every person, from child to elderly. Furthermore, a better muscle mass promotes the quality of weight loss and makes the person much more receptive to a diet. In fact, it often happens to witness a blockage in weight loss, despite a sufficient obligation to follow a diet protocol, due to an insufficiently developed muscle mass. This happens especially when you are someone who is not very overweight and who has already lost a few initial pounds.

Can we finally give some advice to parents and grandparents to help them better manage their children’s nutrition?

The connection between the surrounding environment and habits is very strong. So it may seem trivial, but children get used to eating what parents and grandparents put on the plate and in the pantry, and these habits then tend to remain for life. It is therefore essential that parents and grandparents internalize the basic concepts of healthy eating, in order to pass them on to children as well. That said, I believe that in a child’s diet there should also be very tasty and delicious food, including occasionally even packaged food, but what makes a difference, repetita iuvant, is the amount and frequency of their intake. The main problem today is that children tend to be much more sedentary than before: they stay much longer at home and therefore use less bikes, play less with friends outdoors, etc. All of this has a huge impact on calorie consumption. Therefore, it is advisable on the one hand to help them follow a slightly more careful diet and on the other hand to encourage them to move, have fun, more.

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