With a growing number of people in the world struggling with to lose weight, it’s no wonder there are so many fad diets being promoted through mainstream media.
According to the WHO, around 52% of the world’s population is either overweight or obese. Many of these people have tried to lose weight at least at some point in their lives, and some have even experimented with extreme dieting by following fad diets.
But as research shows, an extreme weight loss diet is not only ineffective as a long-term solution, but it can be extremely damaging to your health.
Extreme dieting leads to muscle wasting
Extreme weight loss diets usually involve severe calorie restriction with the goal of shedding a great amount of weight in the shortest amount of time possible. While these diets will inevitably lead to great weight loss within the first few weeks, you need to keep in mind that you run the risk of losing muscle tissue before you get the chance to shed fat.
According to medical experts, extreme dieting will first lead to water weight loss, then to muscle atrophy, and at the very last stage, to fat loss. Researcher G.L. Thorpe has explained this a very long time ago stating that our body does not selectively burn fat when we eat less. It rather, wastes all body tissue, including the muscles and bones.
Muscle wasting slows down your metabolism
The reason why your body targets muscle tissue first when you are starving yourself is because it aims to preserve energy when food is sparse. To explain this further – your body needs more energy in order to maintain muscle tissue than it does in order to maintain fat.
When there’s a shortage of energy from food as in cases of extreme dieting, your body will attempt to remove one of the body’s greatest energy consumers – the muscles.
This will happen even if you do weight-loss exercises that you may think help build more muscle. But the bad news does not end there.
Keep in mind that a loss of muscle mass leads to a lower basal metabolic rate, and a lower metabolic rate leads to, you’ve guessed it – more weight gain. These facts explain why so many people experience the jo-jo effect following an extreme diet.
Fad diets bring persisting health-related issues
A study published in The Journals of Gerontology found that calorie restriction reduces energy expenditure. What this means is that being on an extremely low-calorie diet will lead to a slower metabolism making future weight loss difficult if not impossible.
Furthermore, diets that are extremely low in calories are often very restrictive and as such, unable to meet your body’s needs for essential nutrients. In other words, being on say, an 800-calorie diet is likely to lead to nutrient deficiencies which can seriously harm your health.
A study that was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition examined the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in popular diets, and the results were striking.
The study found that a restrictive weight-loss diet called The Best Life Diet met only 55% of daily micronutrient requirements while the very popular South Beach Diet met only 22% of the daily requirements for micronutrients. Other negative consequences of crash diets and other highly restrictive diets include osteoporosis, depression, kidney stones, and in severe cases scurvy when the diet is deficient in vitamin C.
How to lose weight the right way?
First off, you need to keep in mind that successful weight loss always comes on gradually. This means switching to a healthy eating habit that you can follow for years to come as well as exercising on a weekly basis.
You also need to eat fewer calories than you usually do for weight loss to take place. According to a study published not so long ago in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, consuming fewer calories is the most effective weight loss strategy, especially when combined with low-GI and moderate fat intake. Just make sure that you reduce your calorie intake by 300-500 calories as recommended by Harvard Health Publications.
For instance, if your usual diet consists of 2500 calories, start eating 2200 calories. Your body will take the time to adjust to this modest caloric deficit, but after a while, you can drop a few calories lower.
Just make sure that you don’t eat anywhere less than 1200 if you are a woman or less than 1500 if you are a man to avoid micronutrient deficiencies. Other things to help you lose weight include finding daily weight-loss motivation tips to help keep you going and checking your health with your doctor to see if underlying health conditions are stalling your weight loss.
Diets don’t work, but healthy eating does
Instead of following fad diet trends that you see being promoted by slim celebrities, nutritionists would suggest you follow healthy eating instead.
By switching to healthy eating instead of say, a low-carb diet that does not work, you’ll be able to shed weight slowly and still meet your body’s needs for key nutrients.
When your body is healthy, and your organ’s well-nourished, you are more likely to experience successful long-term weight loss. Another reason why this is so is because healthy eating is much easier to stick to in the long run when compared to impossible and restrictive diets.
According to an entry published in the Scandinavian Journal of Food & Nutrition, switching to healthy eating involves making big lifestyle changes, focusing on food quality, and balancing your nutrients.
The same entry lists the health benefits of healthy eating which include reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and of course, an improved body composition.
Back to Basics. Forget About Immediate Weight Loss.
You may hear stories of people losing a huge amount of weight by following impossible diets. These stories are usually parts of marketing campaigns for weight-loss products and dieting books that are potentially detrimental to your health. Sticking to proven facts is the only way you can lose weight successfully and safely.
Weight loss requires that you cut down on your calories gradually without jeopardizing your health. It also involves regular exercising to increase energy expenditure and to build more muscle tissue.
|||^||World Health Organization: Obesity and overweight|
|||^||The JAMA Network: Treating Overweight Patients|
|||^||Consumer Health Digest: 11 Highly Effective Weight Loss Exercises|
|||^||The Journals of Gerontology Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences: Long-term calorie restriction reduces energy expenditure in aging monkeys|
|||^||Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: Prevalence of micronutrient deficiency in popular diet plans|
|||^||Journal of Research in Medical Sciences: Weight loss maintenance: A review on dietary related strategies|
|||^||Harvard Health Publications: Calorie counting made easy|
|||^||Consumer Health Digest: 8 Big Reasons Why Your Low Carb Diet Doesn’t Work|
|||^||Scandinavian Journal of Food & Nutrition: Towards a healthy diet: from nutrition recommendations to dietary advice|