Most diet programs do not work. Losing weight following a diet program is not a measure of success. Any diet that requires you to ration food, or eat less than you need to satisfy your hunger, is a failure.
Such programs don’t rely on the soundness of the nutritional strategy, but on the willingness of dieters to starve themselves. This strategy cannot be adopted as a long-term approach to maintaining ideal weight without incurring serious impairment to health.
It’s Not Personal, It’s Business
Diet gurus often exploit the vulnerability of those desperate to lose weight in order to convince, or rather fool, them into risking irreversible and possibly life-shortening damage, not caring about the dangers they are soft-soaping people to confront or, just as likely, not knowing any better.
For the manufacturers of these shoddy diet products, the potentially huge revenues they stand to generate eclipse any ethical concerns. The tragedy is that what deceived dieters stand to lose is much more valuable than their money.
And this tragedy is compounded by the fact that, if they had only known a few simple facts, dieters could have avoided questionable dieting methods and lost weight without any discomfort or undue effort, and, most importantly of all, without running the risk of damaging their health.
The Caloric Restriction Dilemma
Even when approached under controlled conditions, losing weight by caloric restriction can cause major health issues, including a loss of muscle mass and strength, and a reduction in bone density, particularly from the hips and spine, often leading to fractures.
Commercial diet programs that involve intense calorie restriction obviously cannot reproduce laboratory conditions, or anything like them. Dieters are not monitored, which presents a whole new set of dangers. Accidents due to low blood sugar levels caused by crash diets, and calorie-restricted diets in general, are common. They include car accidents, accidents in the home, falls, and workplace accidents.
While it is true that such accidents often involve diabetics and hypoglycemics, dieters are increasingly falling victim to the dangers of low blood sugar levels, whose symptoms include shakiness, anxiety, palpitations, nausea, impaired judgment, fatigue and depression, to name a few.
And the bitter irony is that such self-denial can actually decrease the body’s ability to lose weight efficiently, rather than increasing it. Calorie restriction can cause our metabolism to slow down, reducing the rate at which the body burns fat, and the rate at which calories from food are converted into energy.
The Paradox Of Starvation
Registering the absence of nutrients and sharp drop in food intake, the body goes into “starvation mode” and holds onto fat, making it much more difficult to lose weight than it should be.
And when, after losing weight, dieters return to consuming a normal amount of calories, their metabolism will continue to function at a reduced rate, making future weight gain virtually inevitable, even after our ideal weight has been achieved, in spite of the fact that we may not be eating excessively.
And when the weight piles back on, many will choose to go on yet another diet, hoping this one will bring lasting success. But often, they are unwittingly pursuing the same diet under a different name. No matter how the diet gurus dress it up, the approach is to lose weight by strictly limiting food intake.
The next calorie-restricted diet will exacerbate the problem and, of course, because fat burning is no longer efficient, fat will quickly accumulate once the diet has been discontinued.
Saturated fats from unhealthy sources will increase LDL cholesterol levels. This will contribute to the possibility of heart disease, or worsen an existing condition.
But eliminating saturated fatty acids (SFAs) will not solve the problem. Removing SFAs from the diet is dangerous in itself – saturated fatty acids transport essential fat-soluble vitamins to the cells. These vitamins, A, D and E, are powerful antioxidants.
Without them, the immune system will not function effectively. The thyroid gland will not function properly, leading to obesity. And we will be exposing ourselves to an increased risk of disease, including cancer and heart disease. And increasing polyunsaturated fatty acids could lead to damage to blood vessels if the levels are high, once again contributing to heart disease.
The diet gurus who advocate self-denial never seem to mention the dangers of starving the body of nutrition. The more complicated and taxing they can make the business of weight loss appear, the more helpless people will feel, and the more they will need gurus.
The truth is that achieving and maintaining our optimum weight is really not complicated at all. With the right information we can all do it. The first thing we have to do is to stop starving ourselves and start eating the right food.
Sudden Death Risk
Yo-yo dieting is a potentially life-threatening cycle to get drawn into. And there are good reasons why the behavior patterns associated with this form of dieting are so very dangerous.
Obesity increases the risk of heart failure by accelerating the natural rate at which artery walls thicken. This thickening, which involves the formation of arterial plaques, can eventually lead to a complete blockage of the artery concerned.
The problem is that subsequent weight loss does not significantly reduce this thickening – or atheroma – in most cases. When overeating and poor diet once again lead to weight gain, these lesions continue to develop, getting bigger and bigger over time.
Often, when people lose weight, they tend to equate slimness with healthiness. For many health indicators, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, this may be an applicable equation. But, for yo-yo dieters, a healthy outward appearance is masking the often silent advance of a potentially fatal condition.
Calorie-restricted diets induce elevated levels of lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that causes the body to store calories as fat as a precaution against future ‘famine’. These diets also reduce muscle mass which diminishes the body’s ability to burn fat. These factors greatly increase the risk of weight being regained to a point higher than the previous level.
In addition, calorie-restricted diets can cause the heart rate to slow down and become weaker, as well as causing irregular heart beat patterns. Even without the clogging of the arteries caused by atherosclerosis, these effects of calorie restriction increase the risk of heart failure. In combination, the probability of a serious heart event is increased even further.
A 2007 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggested that people who severely restrict calories have an elevated risk for inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. These results contradict the widespread claims for the benefits of severe low-calorie diets, which supposedly include increased longevity.
The villain of the piece, here, is caloric restriction, which can only ever be a temporary solution, although, in reality, it causes many more problems than it solves. When the diet ends, having compromised both health and metabolic function, further weight gain is practically inevitable.
The only way to avoid this scenario is to stop caloric restriction and maintain a healthy weight by eating wholesome, unrefined foods, high in fiber and complex carbohydrates. Processed foods, including processed diet foods, should be eliminated from our diets at the earliest opportunity.
Diet Gurus come in many guises
When people are very anxious to lose weight, it is very easy to get taken in by diet gurus making slick marketing claims that sound plausible. But there are lots of bogus diets out there, some of which are downright dangerous.
When it comes to diet gurus, it is wise to be careful who you trust. Should an unqualified guru try to convince you that they can cure a serious illness by prescribing unverified forms of treatment without the involvement of medical professionals, this is a red flag that they are at the very least irresponsible, and possibly fraudulent. Even the vegan community is not above deception in the pursuit of hard cash.
And this fun video by Kevan of ScambookTV has a serious point. Many people order diet products that turn out to be bogus, believing that they are signing up for a free trial. They are shocked to later discover that repeated charges have been made to their credit cards. It pays to check up on suspicious diet gurus before you buy. Here’s how.© Copyright 2012 Dane Thorsen, All rights Reserved. Written For: Hourglass Odyssey