• Renee Little, R.D.

Is Dieting is Ruining Your Productivity?

Dieting and calorie reduction can really plummet your productivity. Have you experienced this first hand?

I'm curious, what was the last diet you went on? And how did you feel? Did you try WW (formerly weight watchers), Jenny Craig, Paleo, Keto, or were you "eating clean?" Did you notice when trying to reduce your overall calories you felt sluggish, had difficulty concentrating or were a little more forgetful? There is evidence to support these experiences.

A diet with reduced calories can:

  1. Reduced ability to concentrate (1)

  2. Deplete energy levels, especially in the afternoon or evening (1)

  3. Lower working memory (1)

  4. Increase psychological stress (2)

You might be thinking....but I want to lose weight....so how do I lose weight and not compromise my productivity?

Well....great question! I would invite you to read my blog post "Want to set a weight loss goal? Here's what you need to know first" and see my #1 tip below of what you can do to get started right now.

Weight loss goals are valid and it's helpful to explore why you want to lose weight (health, wellness, energy levels). Once you explore the facts about weight loss, you can consider if a weight loss diet is the method to achieving your goals (or not). It may surprise you to know that many health (and life) related goals can be achieved without any weight loss.

How Can You Increase Productivity?

To increase productivity, I would encourage you to create a specific individualized plan with a Dietitian (oh wait...yes that's me!) to fuel your work throughout the day and provide all the key nutrients in your diet needed for cognitive function. You may be surprised how much of the counselling involves working through dieting thoughts in order to have a mindset shift from a space of dieting to nourishing your body and mind.

Research shows that a diet with adequate energy levels, variety & consistent fuel delivered throughout the day will (3):

  • Promote learning

  • Activate memory

  • Increase focus and concentration

  • Improve cognition

Some of the key nutrients for cognitive function include:

  • omega 3 fatty acids

  • flavinoids

  • B vitamins

  • vitamin D

  • vitamin E

  • calcium

  • zinc

  • selenium

3 Tips to Get You Started Right Now

1. Learn about Diet Culture & Weight Myths

Many clients tell me they want to lose weight to be healthier and more confident. We explore these beliefs and break down the facts about weight loss and if they actually need to attain a specific weight to achieve their goals in life.

Journaling Activity: One question I ask each of my clients to spend a bit of time on is: "Do you think you have to lose weight to be more _________ (successful, confident, healthy)?" Consider thinking about this question right now for yourself. Write down your thoughts.

A key step to fueling your body properly is to understand that you do not have to lose weight (or shrink your body) in order to live your best life and succeed in your business. The next step is to identify dieting behaviors and thoughts.

Dieting takes away our ability to truly give our body what it needs and in turn reduces our productivity. - Renee Little, RD

If you are unsure if you are dieting here are two examples of dieting thoughts:

  • I "shouldn't eat that" because of ____________ (too high in fat, sugar, calories, desire to be thin)

  • Skipping meals to reduce calories

Even if you are not on an official "diet" you can have dieting thoughts and behaviors that are getting in the way of fueling your body and mind adequately. If you want to find out if you are having dieting thoughts/behaviors you can download this 10 Question Dieting Thoughts and Behaviors Quiz. Once you have identified your dieting thoughts and behaviors you can make a choice to continue these behaviors or start to make a shift.

You've seen above how dieting can interfere with your productivity (energy, focus, stress) as described above, think about the benefits that would result in your own life of making a shift from the dieting to non-dieting mindset.

2. Eat 3 Meals Daily

If you are focused on a weight loss goal you may find it enticing to skip a meal to "save on calories." There are inherent flaws with this way of thinking when it comes to boosting productivity. If you skip a meal your body will go into "fasting mode" and will have to work extra hard to create energy from your bodies stored tissues (muscle and fat). This process of energy conversion is SLOW and inefficient. Your body prefers an available source of fuel, especially for the brain (from food).

Eating 3 meals spaced fairly consistently throughout the day will be one of the easiest ways to ensure your energy levels and therefore productivity stays high all day long.

3. Pick Up Snacks for the Office