Everyone is on a Diet
~ April 2003 No.165 ~
It seems that to-day everyone in on a diet. The magazines are full of articles on the subject; celebrity movie stars, athletes and politicians can be seen hawking their favourite weight loss scheme, and it doesn’t take long for most conversations to get around to how to lose weight at any cocktail party.
Everyone is trying to lose weight and, given the recent statistics on obesity, perhaps this all makes sense. The most important questions are how much are they really losing, how fast are the kilos disappearing and, most importantly, is the weight staying off.
Unfortunately too many people are eating bizarre diets that cause rapid weight loss in a short time; inevitably the weight is gained back. Any diet that promotes the eating of one food should be avoided. Whether it is grapefruit or beer or some other food, it should be remembered that no one food can provide all the nutrients we need each day to stay healthy. We all need daily protein, minerals, vitamins, fiber and some fat. Even diets that call allow you to eat one type of food such as only fruit can lead to nutrient imbalances.
Fasting as a way to lose weight also is doomed to fail. It must be remembered that the body over time has developed a set point - your body’s metabolism has adjusted over time to accommodate your diet and life style. The set point is a point of reference that your body wants to return to when you change your metabolism drastically. So when the body senses that you have not been getting enough calories in your diet — as would happen when you go on a fast — the brain sends out signals to tell the body to increase the calorie intake to compensate. This leads to the yoyo effect that most dieters experience that brings them back to their original weight or higher.
No diet should be undertaken before consultation with a doctor or a dietician.
- Avoid diets that :
- promise large weight loss in a short period of time. 1-2 kg per week is a reasonable target.
- restrict you to one food or one food group
- include pills that reduce appetite
- promise to target specific parts of your body
- call for the reduction of fluid intake
- require purging or fasting
- depend on the timing or the order in which foods are eaten
- don’t include changes in lifestyle such as increasing the amount of activity /exercise
- claim to speed up or alter metabolism