Every few months there is a new diet making waves in the media. For many people trying to lose weight, fad diets appear to offer new hope in achieving their weight loss goals. And for those who want to keep off the pounds and stay healthy, these diets may offer a better option than their current eating plan. But certain diets are not without its dangers and it may take several months before the medical experts clarify the potentially harmful effects of adopting these eating habits. Due to the diversity of diet plans, it is difficult to know differentiate those that are dangerous from those that are not. But there are some types of diets that can be a problem.
Remember that the main way to lose weight, should you not have any contributing medical condition(s), is to balance your calorie intake. In other words you should not be consuming more calories that you need. And you should try to increase your calorie output through physical activity if you are trying to lose weight. There are a host of other aspects in weight loss but the fundamentals still revolves around calorie input and output. Radical changes in diet may yield quick weight loss in some instance but it is often not lasting and can be dangerous. Some people may even gain more weight than they initially lost.
Very Low Calorie Diets
Weight loss is all about calories – the amount you consume in food versus the amount you expend in exercise. Diet is an important part of losing weight and a calorie-restricted diet is essential in any weight management program. But there is a point where your calorie intake can be dangerouly low. Remember that you need a minimum amount of calories to keep your bodily processes running – processes that keep you alive. While you may look at dropping your calorie intake to as low as 1,200 calories in a day, consuming less than 1,000 calories daily as an adult can be dangerous. It all depends on your daily activity – if you are not consuming enough to fuel it then you may be risking your health.
Low Carb or No Fat Diets
All too often we hear about carbohydrates (carbs) and fats are the cause of our weight gain. This is not entirely true. It is an excess of carbohydrates and fats that are the problem. The modern diet is laden with carbs and fats and the excess of calories from these foods contribute to weight gain. This does not mean that you should stop eating carbs and fats. A healthy diet requires that at least 60% of your calories should come from carbohydrates, preferably unrefined low glycemic index (GI) carbs. And you do need a small amount of fat every day as it is an important component of many different body tissues and hormones.
High Protein Diets
Protein as a food has several advantages over carbs and fats when considering the weight management aspect. Firstly protein is lower in calories, ounce for ounce, than carbs or fats. Secondly protein helps to keep the hunger pangs at bay for longer. And protein is an important part of maintaining muscle bulk since muscle cells tend to consume large amounts of calories even at rest. But too much of a good thing can be bad for you and this applies to protein as well. Always speak to a registered nutritionist or dietitian about the optimal protein intake for you as an individual. If you are switching to a high protein diet while severely restricting your carb or fat intake then it can be even more dangerous.
Starving yourself to lose weight is dangerous and foolish. Your body needs fuel to continue maintaining various life processes and without it, your body will shut down. While you may have copious fat stores, remember that these reserves are only there to sustain your for short periods of time when you cannot consume sufficient calories at the right time. With sustained fasting, various changes occur in the body many of which have serious health implications. You need a minimum amount of calories consumed through the course of the day to keep your body healthy and alive. Starvation will adversely affect your health and can even lead to death.
Water Only Diets
Water has no calories but it is an important part of any healthy diet. You do need a certain amount of calories every day. Even a small squeeze of lemon or a few additives to your water is not going to provide you with the nutrition you need to maintain your health. While drinking around 2 to 3 liters of water daily is good for you, excessive amounts can upset your electrolyte balance in your body and cause conditions like hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels). Water may fill you up and reduce the amount of food you eat but it should not be used to replace an entire meal. It is important not to confuse water with food when embarking on a diet – water and food have different roles to play in the health of your body and both are needed.
There is a perception that liquid foods have less calories than solid foods. This is not necessarily true. But liquid diets are also popular for weight loss purposes for a number of different reasons. Similarly it has a host of negative health implications if you stop solid or at least semi-solid foods completely. Remember that bulk is important in maintaining bowel health. And a fully liquid diet without some fiber can affect your bowel habit. In smaller amounts, a liquid diet can cause some degree of constipation as your body absorbs most of the fluid you consume and in large quantities you run the risk of looser watery stool or even diarrhea. The latter can cause you to lose essential water and electrolytes.
Skip a meal, skip the calories and lose weight. Sounds logical but it is not sustainable and can in fact contribute to weight gain in the long run. Skipping a meal means that you will consume more calories during successive meals in the day. Hormone changes and an increase in your appetite causes you to store more fat and eat more calories overall. Your body needs a certain amount of calories to maintain life and the calorie requirement should be spread out throughout the day. When you skip a meal and eat more calories on the next meal, these additional calories are not immediately used. Instead your body stores it away as fat.