Saturday, December 4, 2010

The dangers of fad diets

As we draw near to the close of this year and the start of another, many people will be making new year's resolutions. "Diet" season begins! Unfortunately, many will seek self improvement using tools that will not create sustainable weight loss but also place their health in great danger.

We've all heard of these diets. We've all had friends and family use these diets to get their weight off and they often succeed, only to be back to their starting weight within a few months of going off the diet, the pills or the supplements. Why? Because they only changed their behavior temporarily, to a behavior that wasn't something they could do every day, the rest of their lives.  These diets don't work. They aren't healthy.

Below are a few tips when seeking a weight loss solution:

1. If the plan bans one of the necessary food groups, it's not healthy. Protein, carbohydrates and fat are all necessary macromolecules in our diet. Our bodies use protein for cellular processes that require active transport. Additionally, our bodies can convert proteins to glucose (our body's fuel) but it takes much more energy to do so. Speaking of energy, carbohydrates are essential for our body's energy. Without carbohydrates our brain cannot function. Fats are necessary to maintain cushion around major organs. Did you know the heart is encased in a thick layer of fat? Without that layer of fat the heart can actually be injured from hitting the walls of the chest. This is fatal. (Think about those that suffer anorexia and bulimia, once their percentage of body fat is too low they often die of heart failure.)  Certainly, the American diet consists of too much of ALL THREE macromolecules. If one goes on a diet that deprives the body of one of the three - yes, weight will be lost, but is it sustainable? Can you live the rest of your life without ever eating carbohydrates (the main fad right now)? The answer is probably not and if you do, you may suffer long term malnutrition as a result.  Balance really is the best route - a well balanced diet full of good carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats.

2. Diet pills are a red flag! If you have to take a pill to suppress your appetite, you may be causing long term damage to your heart, liver, kidneys and other vital organs. Is that really healthier? We have seen over the last decade diet pills come and go. We've seen people die of heart attacks from stimulants. We've seen people die of liver failure, kidney failure, all for the quest to be thinner. It can be done without pills. It actually goes back to #1. If the diet is balanced and healthy, you can change your lifestyle to healthy eating and NOT be hungry.

3. Supplements. If the diet you are looking at requires a handful of vitamins and "natural supplements" - it's not a healthy diet. I know this is all the rage right now, all those vitamins and nutrients packed into one little capsule, swallowed down with a nice glass of water.  The fact is our body's do not absorb these vitamins as well if they are processed and in a pill form. Certainly, a good multivitamin is recommended. There are some health conditions that require additional vitamin supplements. However, the average person can glean all their essential vitamins and nutrients from FOOD in a (yes, broken record time) well balanced diet.

4. Shakes. We've all seen these diets, they've been around for years. Drink a shake for a couple meals per day and you'll lose weight. Certainly, some weight is lost. However, again, can you really live the rest of your life drinking your meals?  I know I can't!  These nutritional shakes are great for those that are unable to swallow, have a feeding tube or some other health condition (typically GI related) that require already processed nutrients. However, shakes are not ideal for health. 

5. Fasts. Now I'm not speaking of religious fasting, but that which requires an individual to cleanse their body for weight loss or health. Cleansing/fasting really only causes a lot of bathroom time and dehydration. Sure, weight is lost, but it's water weight! Every cell in our body is not only bathed in water, but full of water. When pills or other fluids are taken to cause a "cleansing" effect on the colon, all it does is cause your body to dump much of the water bathing and filling the body's cells. This depletes the body of essential electrolytes, nutrients and fluids.  The best way to cleanse the colon is to eat a high fiber diet. The ruffage going through the lower GI tract actually scrubs the walls of the intestines taking with it cholesterol, bacteria and other residue. However, with the "low carb/no carb" craze, fiber is often overlooked - it's found on the food label under Carbohydrates.

When seeking a weight loss solution, consider those that maintain balance. It really is a more livable plan.  Also, don't look at it as a temporary fix - to maintain a healthy weight one must maintain a healthy diet - period. Dieting for a set period of time to take off the weight and then going back to old habits is not only detrimental to weight loss but also healthy. Seek a healthy solution, change your life and be healthy!

The point is not to have the smallest waist, but to have the best running machine.  A car can have a fabulous paint job but the engine can still run like crap.  ;)

1 comment:

  1. I love it! Now that I'm on my own weight loss journey again I am finding your blog to be a great support for me. Love you!