The Pitfalls of Weight Loss Programs and Diets

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Most diet and weight loss programs have a depressingly high failure rate, with people either never reaching their weight goals or reaching them and regaining all the weight they lost (and sometimes more) in about one year.

Getting the weight off fast is so desirable that many of us are willing to sacrifice health and ignore common sense in the hope that some new weight loss program or scheme will work. This pipe dream can unfortunately outweigh the negative consequences. So let’s examine the downside of dieting.

What Is An Unhealthy Weight Loss Program?

    • Any weight loss program that is not nutritionally sound;
    • One that works against what the body naturally needs like vitamins, minerals, and a minimum number of calories a day;
    • One that requires you to go without eating (for example, fasting or meal replacement drinks);
    • One that puts your body into an unnatural state, such as starvation or ketosis.

Your body can only lose a few pounds a week on a consistent basis. If you lose more than that initially, it’s likely just water loss. So any weight loss program that promises you will lose five pounds a week, or 25 pounds in 3 weeks, is guaranteeing you will be losing water and muscle mass not fat.

Almost every popular weight loss program out there falls into one of the following diet categories: low calorie diets, meal replacement drinks, packaged foods, unbalanced nutrients, and ketosis diets. Let’s see how they stack up.

LOW CALORIE DIETS
Whenever you drastically reduce your calories, the body enters an unnatural state and its defenses kick in. So when calories drop below, say, 1000 calories a day, your metabolism will shut down in an effort to conserve energy. And weight loss with a sluggish metabolism is very difficult.

Your body will start using muscle tissue to provide energy, which again leads to a decrease in the metabolism. Taken to an extreme, the body will break down its vital parts (such as the heart muscle) trying to meet its energy needs.

In addition to these drawbacks, trying to maintain the weight loss over time is nearly impossible because your body is now used to making do with very few calories. Going back to “normal” eating causes the weight to pile back on.

For this reason, low cal weight loss programs rarely work over the long haul.

MEAL REPLACEMENT DRINKS
One of the most unnatural things for your body is to go without solid food, which is what meal replacement plans ask it to do. Some people think that dieting will be easier if they aren’t confronted with daily food choices and the pounds will just fall off. This may be true while they are on the liquid diet. But what about afterwards?

Where will the good eating habits come from after you’ve lost the weight? This is something that takes time, practice and knowledge. Dieters need to establish a healthy attitude towards a life-long eating plan. And no “fad” weight loss program or liquid lunch can help you with that.

Getting hooked on meal replacements can become a destructive way to view food. It often leads dieters to fear food or binge to “feed” their cravings after a long period of deprivation. And that’s just the psychological side of the equation.

The lack of fiber in such weight loss programs can be a threat to good physical health. And when the body is denied enough solid food, the intestines go into overdrive absorbing calories and nutrients. This helps you during the diet period, but later it makes it much easier to regain the weight.

Another yo-yo weight loss program that hurts you in the end.

UNBALANCED NUTRIENT PLAN
Be cautious about any weight loss program that has strict rules about good foods and bad foods. Sure, high fat and high sugar foods might be considered bad for the waistline, but moderation not abstinence is key to success.

Why? Because eating the same foods every day (say, grapefruit or high protein meals) is going to result in two things: nutritional imbalance and boredom.

All foods are made up of the same nutrients in different amounts: fat, carbohydrates, and protein. It is the right proportion of these nutrients that will bring about weight loss – not the avoidance of “bad” foods and the consumption of only “good” or magical foods.

In the world of dieting, no one food or nutrient group is magical. Variety and moderation are the keys to a healthy diet and a successful weight loss program.

PACKAGED FOODS
To stay at your ideal body weight, you have to learn how to make proper food choices. By following a packaged food weight loss program you are postponing the inevitable, and spending plenty of $$$ in the process.

Another problem with this kind of weight loss program is that the foods provided are not always healthy. Read the package label and you will see chemicals, preservatives, sodium, sugar and saturated fats. And when all you can eat is packaged food, how do you plan meals with other people? Going out to restaurants and parties and enjoying family meals becomes a big hassle.

Your weight loss program then becomes a burden, not only to you, but to those around you.

KETOSIS DIETS
Ketosis has been defined as: “An abnormal condition marked by excessive production of ketone bodies. Often caused by high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins diet.”

Atkins and certain other weight loss programs are based on the principle of restricting carbohydrates to the point that the body enters into ketosis. On the surface, a ketogenic diet seems to work for two reasons: First, you’ll lose large amounts of weight, which is very pleasing to the dieter. Secondly, you don’t experience hunger.

But there are serious drawbacks. Your weight goes down due to water loss (which occurs when you restrict carbohydrates) and a loss of lean muscle tissue. This is NOT true, lasting weight loss.

The loss of appetite comes from having ketones building up in the body, which can harm your health. Side effects of a ketosis weight loss program can include fatigue, kidney stones, gout, and muscle loss. The longer you follow such a diet, the greater the risk to your health.

Clearly not a wise choice of weight loss program, not for the short term or the long.

WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM QUESTIONNAIRE
There are always new weight loss programs coming onto the market and going in and out of style. To evaluate if a weight loss program is healthy and sensible for you, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Is the plan nutritionally sound?
    • Will it help improve my weight, metabolism, cholesterol level, blood pressure, energy level, and general ealth?
    • Will I be eating real food and not have to buy special formulas, drinks, etc?
    • Will I be eating a wide variety of foods rather than just a few “diet” foods?
    • Am I allowed to have some treats and eat my favorite foods?
    • Can I eat out in restaurants, have a glass of wine with dinner, or some dessert?
    • Can I follow this weight loss program without it interfering with my lifestyle?
    • Can I lose weight without feeling hungry?
    • Will l develop eating habits for life-long weight control with this weight loss program?
    • Is this the last diet I will ever need to finally reach and maintain my ideal weight?

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About the Author

Kieran has been involved in the health and fitness industry for the past 12 years and has recently ventured down the paleo lifestyle path, while still retaining his interests in surfing and karate.

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