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The Truth About Dieting


Many people have undertaken some form of diet at one time or another, with the goal of fitting into a new outfit, or simply to boost how they feel about themselves.   But is dieting actually having the opposite effect?  Read on to learn more. 

What is a Diet?

A diet can be defined as when a person restricts what they eat or drink with the goal of losing weight.  While a diet can be undertaken for health reasons, such as a low cholesterol diet, most people diet to reach a certain weight and then once that weight is reached, they will go off it again.

What Happens when you Diet

If you are following a low calorie diet, the following things will happen to your body.  Firstly, the body will use up its stores of carbohydrates, known as glycogen, in the liver and muscles.  Water is stored with glycogen and as the glycogen is used up you will lose kilos in water weight.  Once the stored carbohydrates have been exhausted, the body enters a kind of starvation mode, and protein in the muscles is used as the main source of energy.  As a result, toxic compounds called ketones are produced that make you feel fatigued and headachy.

As you start to lose weight, you also begin to lose muscle mass and your metabolism slows down in order to conserve the smaller number of calories you are now consuming.  Your metabolism is directly related to the amount of calories that you have, so the more muscle you have, the faster you will burn calories.  If you lose a lot of weight initially on the diet, you will also lose a lot of muscle.  This means that even though you are eating fewer calories, your body is burning calories more slowly than it did before, as you now have less muscle mass.

Once you return to your eating habits before you go on the diet, you will regain the weight that you lost, and potentially even more.  This is because the slower metabolism cannot process the amount of incoming calories and thus stores them as fat. 

If you follow a low carbohydrate, high protein diet, you are at risk of dehydration, weakness, nausea, and in severe cases, gout, kidney problems, and an increased risk of heart disease. 

Most diets, while they offer the promise of weight loss in a short period of time, cannot give you the essential nutrients that you need as they are based around limited ranges of food.  These fad or crash diets cannot give you ways to keep the weight off permanently.

Can Diets be Healthy? 

It is possible to diet healthily.  A sensible and realistic diet can be followed for long periods of time in order to maintain a desirable body weight.  They can also improve the overall health of a person as well as prevent complications such as diabetes and heart disease.  These diets are based on plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrains and other healthy carbohydrates, and lean proteins.  Really the only sensible way to lose weight permanently is to eat less and exercise more.  It is about eating a wide range of healthy foods, exercising portion control, and moderating the intake of foods that are high in calories but provide little nutritional return (such as processed foods and fast foods).  Also learn to listen to your body, as it will tell you when you have had enough.  You don’t have to eat all of the food on your plate just because it is there.  Exercise should be undertaken for at least 30 minutes three times a week, preferably four to six times a week.


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