Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Weight Loss Fads

42-16389055Before there was Dr. Atkins, there was William Banting,  a formerly obese English undertaker who was the first to popularize a weight loss diet based on limiting intake of refined and easily-digestible carbohydrates. In 1863 Banting wrote a booklet called Letter on Corpulence in which he recounted his diet plan. It consisted of  four meals per day, consisting of meat, greens, fruits, and dry wine. The emphasis was on avoiding sugar, saccharine matter, starch, beer, milk and butter.

100 years later….

Banting’s pamphlets metamorphose in Atkins diet. Dieters swear by it and critics take digs at it. Let’s evaluate the facts. Atkins diet allows dieters to have unlimited protein and fat but restricts the consumption of carbohydrates. The underlying premise of the Atkins Diet is that diets high in carbohydrates cause some people to gain weight and can ultimately lead to obesity. Diets high in carbs increase the production of insulin (a hormone secreted by the pancreas). When insulin levels are high, the food we eat is quickly and easily converted into fat, and stored in our cells. By restricting the consumption of carbohydrates, the production of insulin is moderated. The foods allowed by dieters on Atkins are meat, eggs, dairy products like butter and cheese but no milk. Since carbs are restricted dieters can’t enjoy fruits, vegetables and cereals.

On the hind-sight, dieters do lose weight with Atkins diet program but the weight loss comes initially from loss of body fluids and later fat and muscle tissue. Moreover, it’s common sense that any diet that will completely restrict a food group will not be right for your health. In 1973, American Medical Association called the diet dangerous.  High proteins may increase the risk of osteoporosis and accelerate the rate of deterioration in kidney function associated with aging.

Low Fat Diet was the other diet to arrive on the weight loss arena. Since fat is the most concentrated source of calories, it concentrated on weight loss by cutting down fat. Hence, several diet foods sprouted all claiming to be fat free, thus allowing dieters the liberty to have these as much as they wish.

However, what dieters didn’t know that any low fat food contains added sugar to enhance the taste. Most of the times, dieters gorge on fat-free foods and end up gaining weight, because a ‘fat free’ food has other additives to make it palatable for your taste buds. It’s a better idea to eat foods as they are meant to be because then you are careful about the portion size.

Blood Type Diet: The latest dietary fad sprang on the weight watchers with the release of Peter Adamo’s book Eat Right 4 Your Type. The book continues to be a bestseller. D’Adamo claims that the diet will not only bring about weight loss — but can assist with allergy and infection resistance, and will achieve overall good health. Since most of the population has blood type O, the prescribed diet for them is low-carbohydrate, high in protein and low in dairy products (sounds like an offshoot of Atkins diet). The author suggests specific foods to avoid like avocados, brazil nuts and oranges. Type O should engage in lots of exercise.

  • Blood Type A should avoid red meat, eat plenty of fish and vegetables, with a low dairy intake. Light exercise only.
  • Blood Type B should avoid chicken and bacon, eat plenty of meat and dairy, some fish, and plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • Blood Type AB combines the A and B diets.

The diet sounds unreasonable. Any diet that makes you forego an exhaustive list of foods is difficult to follow. Just imagine what foods an O type person will eat if he is a vegetarian?

Then, there is crash diet, the mother of all diets. You go in a starvation mode and completely limit your calorie intake and begin surviving on herbal juices, fruits. Such diets do not take into account your lifestyle, calorie needs and disrespect the body. You may lose weight but that is because of loss of fluid and will end up gaining the weight doubly faster that you lost it; a complete no-no because it makes you vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies.  

Weight loss is intricately linked to our health and wellbeing. Eating right, preferably six meals a day (small, home-cooked and nutritious), eating a wholesome breakfast and winding up meals before 7.30 pm with an active exercise plan is needed to become toned and slimmer. Moreover in order to lose weight you need to build lean muscle mass and it can’t happen until you make your muscles exercise. Thus any diet that claims to lose weight without making you move is playing with your emotions. Grow up and face the real world.

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Category: Weight Loss
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