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Dangers of fad diets

Every other day, a new diet crops up promising to make weight loss faster and easier than ever before. Celebrities come up with fad diets they swear by. But these diets can be more dangerous to your health than beneficial to it. Here’s why

1. False hope and feeling of failure

Many diet claims are so convincing that your sense of reason is blinded by the false hope that this is the magic bullet you need. When you find that you can barely function on cabbage soup, or by completely cutting out a food group, the first thought is that you failed.

You blame yourself and your self-esteem plummets. Constant feelings of deflated self-worth lead you straight back to the core of your weight issues – emotional eating.

2. Quick fixes become the only answer

Weight loss is never completely effortless; it takes time to plan healthy meals, shop for groceries, exercise, and focus on internal cues. The most effective and healthy path to long-term weight loss and maintenance is through lifestyle changes.

While your co-workers may temporarily surpass your weight loss by going on a fad diet, three months down the line you’ll be 10 kilogrammes lighter, and they’ll be looking for the next new diet.

3. You become addicted to fad diets

For chronic dieters, starting a new diet provides a euphoric high that encompasses the hopes, motivation, and drive to get your life back on track and lose the weight for good. When the programme fails, dieters look for hope, and will often find promise in the next diet. Thus, the downward spiral of diet addiction continues.

4. You lose sight of hunger cues

Healthy diet. Photo/Courtesy

Contrary to claims, most fad diets are too low in calories and you will be hungry. Ultimately, you will have to return to regular eating.

Chances are you will overcompensate with extra calories to satisfy feelings of intense hunger combined with the stress of feeling like you failed.

When you are stuck in a pattern of ignoring hunger pains followed by binge eating, you eventually lose your ability to recognise true hunger and fullness.

5. You’ll wind up feeling dehydrated

Most of the weight you drop when you lose weight too quickly tends to be water weight, which can lead to rapid dehydration.

Your body burns calories and excess weight in stages, and if you try to force your body to lose weight faster than it naturally wants to, you can cause serious health problems for yourself.

To keep from overeating and to stay properly hydrated, drink one to two glasses before a meal. Also, if you exercise daily, be sure to increase your water intake in order to counteract the water you lose from sweating while working out.

6. Onset of fatigue

Fad diets involve depriving yourself of calories. However, calories are what translate into the energy your body needs to get through the day. If you fast or eat less than what your body requires in order to lose weight too quickly, you’ll find yourself feeling fatigued for most of the day. Eat smaller meals throughout the day. This will help to boost your metabolism, and can provide you with more energy to help you lose weight in a healthy manner.

7. You can get digestive problems

Losing weight too quickly can lead to severe diarrhoea, and then constipation. As with losing water weight, having diarrhoea over an extended period of time can lead to dehydration—a condition that can be life-threatening. Tip: Ensure that you have a diet in which you are getting an adequate amount of fibre.

You deprive your body of nutrients Crash diets and fasting are dangerous because they restrict you from consuming fats and carbs, but they’re also unsafe since they prevent your body from getting the vitamins and minerals it needs.

If you restrict your body from its normal caloric intake over a long period of time, your body will be deprived of its essential nutrients and you’ll become severely malnourished.

9. Muscle loss

Most fad diets claim that you don’t have to exercise in order to lose weight. This combined with the fact that fad diets leave you malnourished means that the weight you’re losing might not be fat.

Muscle weighs more than fat and is just as easily lost as fat. Losing muscle may help you lose total weight, but muscle helps you burn calories while you are in a resting state. If you lose muscle mass because of fad dieting, you’ll have a lot of trouble keeping weight off.

10. Harmful to emotional and physical health

The process of cycling through diets eventually leads to decreased metabolism, weight gain, frustration, negative body image, cravings and binges, and distrust in your innate ability to monitor food intake. These consequences increase the likelihood of developing an eating disorder.

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