Why diets don’t work?
It is a matter of fact that dieting doesn’t work. It never has , and it never will. The sheer number should prove this to you. How many diets have there been over the last twenty years? Fifty ?One hundred? Magazine readers are constantly plagued by the promise on the cover “to take off 5 kilos in two weeks” with tips or with one or another diet made up to sell magazines. If they really did work would there be a need for an unending chain of new ones ?
Why don’t diets work? The answer is quite simple. What do you think about when you’re on a diet? Just like all others on diet, you are usually thinking about what you are going to eat when the ordeal is finally over. How can you possibly succeed on your diet when all your thinking about is food? Depriving yourself is not the answer to healthy permanent weight loss. It usually causes you to binge later on, which complicates the problem. Deprivation and binging becomes a vicious cycle, and that’s just one of the many problems with dieting.
Another is that diets are temporary ; therefore the results too have to be temporary. Permanent measures bring about permanent results. Temporary measures bring about temporary results. “I’ve been on every diet that has ever come my way, and nothing seems to work” Why have you been on every diet ? You have been on every diet without success because dieting is the wrong approach! Diets fail because of the regimentation involved. Very few of us can be regimented successfully for long when itcomes to food.
When we go on a diet, our systems are thrown into turmoil while they try to adopt to a new regimen. They then must readopt to old patterns when the regimen ends. It’s like taking a metal rod and bending it over and over again. Eventually it will become weak and break. If you jerk your body back and forth and over and over again by dieting, it will become weak and break down.
Confusion and frustration are rampant among dieters. Most of the diets contradict one another. One popular diet says to eat more proteins and very few carbohydrates. Another equally popular diet says to eat more carbohydrates and very little protein. Can both be right? Yet another says to eat a small portion of whatever you like, but be sure to exercise and be positive. One more says you can eat anything you can dream of just weight it first and yet another says you should adhere to its programme for only two weeks at a time. The most dangerous of all is the latest diet craze that substitutes drugs and nutritional powders for real food, in the absence of strict medical supervision.
The cost to one’s well-being from these have to be measured. Yet many people, not having an alternative, continue to do what they have always done – diet – because they’ve never been presented with any viable alternative. They continue their search for that one panacea that will end – once and for all – their battle of the bulge.
If I lost weight very quickly by severe dieting or crash methods will it be a permanent loss?
It is not difficult for you to diagnose yourself as over- weight or even obese ; but it is outside your capability to diagnose accurately the causes for your weight problem. In other words a person trying to lose weight very quickly by severe dieting or crash methods such as medically unsupervised fasting, severe starvation and so on, is making no effort to correct the original cause of his excess weight. For this reason, there are countless people who half-starve themselves both quantitatively and nutritionally to lose weight only to gain it back, usually with additional kilos.
Three things make it extremely difficult to maintain a long term loss by severe dieting or crash methods. First, you have no well-balanced dietary guidelines by which to revise your eating habits, and without these it is impossible to maintain healthy low weight. Second, weight lost by crash dieting isn’t likely to stay lost. Recent studies show conclusively that not all obesity is caused simply by overeating, although, in most instances this may have triggered it. Third, crash dieting throws your body system out of gear and therefore when you resume regular eating your metabolic system may not be behaving properly. IN fact, with crash dieting, your body may be storing considerable fat, simply because your food is not being used or burnt properly.
How will crash dieting make me fat?
Most crash diets are based on two assumptions :-
Diets do not affect the speed at which body works – the metabolic rate.
Weight lost on a crash diet is mostly fat.
Any diet that promises an initial weight loss of five to seven kilos a week in fat is misleading. The body’s first reaction to a diet which deprives body of essential food is to draw on the energy that is immediately available. This is not fat. It is glycogen, a carbohydrate stored in solution with water in the muscles and liver. Glycogen is the body’s immediately available source of energy and can be converted into fuel for the brain.
Once a dieter’s body has adopted to such a diet by releasing glycogen and shedding, water, it will tend to lose both fat and muscle. The body of an overweight sedentary dieter tends to lose more muscle than fat.
Have you ever noticed how people on quick weight loss diets grow gaunt faced, the face appearing drawn and haggard, while say, their upper arms, hips or thighs, seem to remain as heavy as ever? This is not an illusion. The body not getting enough fuel from a crash diet turns to what reserves it can muster. Obtaining, energy from vital muscle tissue about the face and neck may be far easier for the body than obtaining energy from the tough, hard, long entrenched fats on upper arms, thighs or hips. The dieter loses weight, but does not lose much fat, and he loses almost no fat from the places where it is most unsightly and, possibly, the greatest threat to his health.
Another reason is that the dieter’s metabolic rate slows down to adapt to decreased and subnutritional food intake. As the metabolic rate drops, the dieter finds it more and more difficult to lose weight.
The more severe the diet, the more you slow down your metabolic rate as the body is deprived of essential food. This process can be dangerous if the diet is extreme or prolonged or if dieting is repeated over several years.
What are the dangers of dieting ?
People who are malnourished because they can’t help it ( the very poor), or don’t know the basic principles of nutrition or because they are on some crash or crazy diet or starve themselves, suffer from what is scientifically called “Negative Nitrogen Balance” which simply means your body is putting out more nitrogen than it is taking in. When this happens your body loses weight but not necessarily fat. During negative nitrogen balance, your muscles, your kidney, your liver and other organs become smaller. You cannot afford to lose much of these kinds of tissue, because some of it, brain tissue, for example, is irresplaceable. Contrary to popular belief, in starvation fat cells never disappear in number. This was dramatically demonstrated by a research team at Rockfeller University, U.S.A. where rats were fed barely to keep them alive. After about a month the animals had used up reserve fat for energy and began consuming muscle, organs and connective tissue but not fat cells. “Fat cells appear to be fully protected during starvation,” says Dr. Irving Faust, one member of the Rockfeller team.
If you starve or half starve for a long time, you will eventually start losing considerable fat but by then you have endangered your life. Someone who has maintained negative nitrogen balance through insufficient eating over a long period of time is less resistant to disease and is less likely to survive any serious disease he contracts.
Most of the time most of us are in positive nitrogen balance. Usually the nitrogen our body consumes through food is equal to the nitrogen that it gives out as waste. New cells replace old cells ; new nitrogen replaces old. It is as simple as that.
A negative nitrogen balance means dangerous business and a warning against starving yourself or experimenting with diets and formulas that are subnutritional.
Then why does one resort to such unhealthy and dangerous quick weight loss diets ?
It is natural and understandable that if you have 15 to 40 kilos to shed, you want to do it in the quickest possible way. So you convince yourself that using a crash diet will accomplish the goal in the shortest time. Drastic measures very often produce drastic results, and it is quite possible for you to end up with serious damage to one or more of your vital organs.
Lets look at the history of N.L. a forty-three-year old who had a weight problem throughout her adult life. Without consulting a doctor she went on a crash diet to shed her weight off fast.
In the first week of her crash dieting, she lost five kilos. The second week, she lost three kilos ; and began to suffer from loss of hair, weakness, headaches and occasional giddy spells. She discontinued her diet, but her giddiness persisted and she started regaining lost weight. By the time she sought help she was 18 kilos overweight.
A thorough physical examination and blood tests showed her to be suffering from severe nutritional anaemia a condition where the hemoglobin level goes down due to faulty diet. Along with the treatment for anaemia the patient was placed on a well-balanced diet containing essential nutrients required by the body and within ten months she had reduced herself to her ideal weight and has stayed that way for the past six years. This case is a clear example of what a wrong kind of diet can do to the unsuspecting person.
Obese person know intellectually that it is very wrong and dangerous to lose weight without medical supervision. But the well-planned weight loss programme of the nutrition oriented doctor limits weight loss to 1 to 1.5 kilos a week. Therefore it is no wonder that a woman wanting to lose 15 kilos in just six weeks so that she can appear at her daughter’s wedding looking slim and trim, resorts to crash programmes on her own prompted by some magazine, suggestions from relatives, friends and well-wishers or some self-styled nutrition-guru who places her on one or the other fad diets.
What should then be a safe and ideal weight loss? Why?
Frustrated fatties have long been told it is their own fault, that they eat too much, that they are lazy and have no will power. This is not the case. Let me explain this in detail.
In many, so called unlucky individuals with normal weight, certain factors in the beginning are laid down in the body which predispose them to obesity later in life. These factors for example, could be physiological i.e. lowered metabolism according to Modern Science or increased Kapha (structure) factor as per Ayurvedic Doctrines (both discussed in detail in this book). The process of becoming obese i.e. deposition and storage of excess fat in the body in the initial stages occurs in a very subtle and imperceptible manner without any obvious indication, hence unknown to the affected person. Gradually but steadily this fat accumulation increases.
The source of this accumulated fat is food eaten but not oxidized i.e. burnt or utilized for the various functions of the body. The body as a result suffers from malnutrition and this causes damage to the body again in a very subtle and imperceptible manner without any overt symptoms in the affected person. Now in the presence of malnutrition the body craves for food, felt by the affected person as an increase in hunger. The person starts eating more, gradually but certainly, in the absence of nutritional knowhow, he eats easily available artificial and foodless, empty processed foods, wrong foods , etc. lacking nutritional value.
His effort to appease this increased hunger and to satisfy the physiological needs of the body thus proves futile. Lacking basic nourishment the body requirements still remain unfulfilled. Chronic malnutrition now sets in. When this happens, there is literally a metabolic tearing down of muscles and organs to extract energy content faster, than building up replacements for the body cells. As a result, the body is no longer in a state of dynamic equilibrium. At this stage the process of becoming obese is fully established in the body.
It is proved that a fat man becomes fat faster. In other words the complete phenomenon described above has a snowballing effect and with the rapid increase in body fat, chronic malnutrition and increased hunger pangs the person’s appetite becomes irregular, erratic and excessive. His physical activity decreases on account of weakness due to inadequate nourishment and he becomes lethargic. At this stage the tip of the iceberg of obesity shows up. But this warning sign is ignored either due to negligence or lack of moral obligation for one’s body or in our country as a sign of prosperity and a healthy body.
The process of becoming obese is left unattended and thus continues and finally the person becomes a full-fledged case of obesity. The accumulation of fat in the body shows itself in the form of bulges. The obese victim at this stage is blamed by relatives, friends, well-wishers and psyched by articles, magazines and fitness advocates that his overweight condition is due to his now apparent overeating and obvious lack of physical exercise and he unfortunately starts believing his massively publicized half-baked truth used for commercial exploitation of the innocent and vulnerable fat citizens.
Remember being obese is not your fault. Obesity is a disease and not a question of overeating or lack of exercise. It is because of medical ignorance, an underlying cause of obesity and lack of nutritional knowledge that you are fat. The unfortunate individual suddenly aware of his ugly and diseased condition wants to get rid of it and that too immediately. It has taken years to grow fat, atleast it will take that many weeks to get rid of it. But the fat man is impatient. He wants to lose weight and get slim and trim immediately and in his eagerness jeopardizes his well-being on some unscientific Quick Weight Loss Programme.
A safe, permanent and ideal weight loss is that which is gradual and which does not exceed 3 to 4 kilos a month , according to British Heart Foundation (1989).
It is very important to build health at the same time as reducing fat. It is also essential simultaneously to deal successfully with the causes underlying obesity.
There is a very great difference between slim and being thin and scraggy, and there is also a great difference between merely losing weight and creating well-balanced body. All too often people who follow quick weight loss programme succeed in losing weight, but they also lose their good looks and good temper. They look drawn and haggard, feel irritable and tired. Their skin does not get sufficient time to readjust itself to the sudden loss of underlying tissue and consequently, gets wrinkled, losing its natural elasticity and glow. Therefore a programme which improves the health at the same time as it reduces the weight should compulsorily take a gradual, course, the weight loss not exceeding 4 to 5 kilos a month. Such scientific and medically sound programmes have proved to give far more lasting results towards maintenance of a healthy low weight.
What is a fad diet?
A fad diet is any popular “crash” diet designed for quick weight loss and not supervised by a doctor. Usually the dieter eats a high proportion of one category of food. By definition, the fad diet excludes the other nutrients necessary for maintaining a healthy body while losing weight.
What are the dangers of “high protein” diets ?
In the popular, or fad “high protein” diet, you eat practically nothing but chicken, meat, cheese, eggs, etc. These diets work by totally eliminating intake of carbohydrate thereby throwing the body out of gear. This situation is similar to severe starvation since protein and fat are broken down in an attempt to sustain life process. Incomplete oxidation or burning of fatty acids and certain proteins takes place, resulting into formation of acidic ketone bodies, i.e. acetone and acetoacetic acid. This condition is known as ketosis. The ketone bodies are thrown out of the body through urine and they pull water along with it by osmosis – a process by which water passes from lower concentration to that of higher concentration, when seperated by a semi- permeable membrane.
Weight is lost fast and dramatically but unfortunately this loss is due to water loss rather than fat loss.
The water losses which would normally be promptly made up, by drinking large amounts of fluids are not made up here because ketosis produces quite a nausea and serves to limit the intake of food. The weight losses, sometimes 4 to 5 kilos a day are dramatic. But remember that no one can live for very long in a continuous ketotic state.
Proteins contain purines which form uric acid in the body, resulting in gouty arthritis or kidney stones, in susceptible persons. In extreme and rare cases retention of urea can cause coma and death. If you are not otherwise reasonably healthy when you start this diet, you may be playing with your life.
What are the dangers of a “high fat” diet ?
Overabundance of fat in the diet can cause diarrhoea. Constant diarrhoea will cause weight loss because if the food is constantly being expelled from the body, it has little or no chance to be absorbed.
A constant diarrhoea can cause loss of essential vitamins and minerals along with loss of fluids rich in necessary electrolytes, such as magnesium, potassium and sodium. This can lead to serious dehydration and if fluids and other essential elements are not replaced quickly, coma and death can result.
Does this mean I should go on a fat free or boiled food diet ?
With all this talk about fat, it is natural for you to think that it would be best to avoid fat altogether. But according to the British Heart Foundation a healthy diet should contain some fat. Unless advised specifically by your doctor, a diet free of fat can be harmful. Here are some of the things fat does :
Fat helps transport certain essential vitamins through the body. These vitamins – A, D, K and E are fat soluble, which is to say they dissolve in the fats and oils we eat.
There are three essential fats which the body is not able to manufacture and therefore must be included in the daily diet. If these fats are not present, the result may be dry skin and scalp.
Fats keep the skin soft, supple, glowing and in good tone, by working among the cells of the skin.
Fat under the skin protects nerves and muscles from sudden changes of temperature.
Vital organs, kidney, heart and liver are cushioned by a small bed of fat.
Fats are important lubricants in the joints.
Fat is important in controlling. Without it you suffer from more or less constant feeling of emptiness and you are likely to ear more than you normally would – yet another reason why low fat diet fails.
Two researches Dr. William Copper and James Hart, of the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research in Mil Wankee, Wisconsin, U.S.A. report that the essential fats are needed for all glandular health, and particularly for healthy prostate glands in men.
What are the dangers of “low -carbohydrate” diet ?
On a “low-carbohydrate” diet you may develop hypoglycemia ( low blood sugar). Because of low concentration of glucose or sugar in circulating blood, your brain is not properly nourished nor is your retina. People with hypoglycemia complain of their mental efficiency being slowed down, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, and in advanced cases loss of sight and even death can result.
Only a doctor can determine how much carbohydrate you must have. People foolish enough to practice self-diagnosis and follow “low – carbohydrate ” fat diets may be headed for serious trouble.
What about “high carbohydrate” diets ?
A “high-carbohydrate” diet includes carbohydrate rich, starchy and sugary foods which are deficient in essential vitamins and minerals required for maintaining good health. The presence of too much carbohydrate -rich food impedes the fat-mobilizing activity of the pituitary glands. What is fat-mobilizing ? It is a stage the body undergoes when ridding itself of fat. Furthermore, the extra carbohydrate increases the deposition of fat around the body.
What are “meal supplements ” for quick weight loss?
A “meal supplement” is a flavoured powder containing essential nutrients in the dosage required to meet the daily needs of the body.
A dieter on the meal supplement or “liquid diet” takes in no solid food for upto weeks and replaces one or more meal with the “meal supplement “. Weight loss is quick upto 3 to 4 kilos a week. The liquid diets should be administered under medical supervision, in some cases as part of a hospital based programme. Every patient must be checked for blood pressure, heart – rate and blood chemistry at least twice a month to ensure that there are no medical complications.
Liquid diets can have side effects. They include fatigue, dry skin, chills, even hair loss, nausea, constipation, dizziness, depression.
Liquid diet or not, willingness to change is the ultimate key to keeping weight off for good. If you are looking for someone else to do it for you, you are bound to fail. Only by taking personal responsibility for your own eating behaviour can you look forward to a long- term success in treating obesity.
What is a well-balanced diet?
A well-balanced diet is one in which carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals are kept in correct proportion to meet all the requirements of your body towards passive health.
International organizations such as TOPS – Take Off Pounds Sensibly of America and WWA – Weight Watchers Association of Canada after a ten year research study for evaluation of various diets and their effects on the weight of obese persons, have conclusively proved that the only way to ensure safe, healthy and permanent weight loss is to follow ” a nutritionally well-balanced diet.”