Fad diets lead to more harm than good

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Celebrity astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson once tweeted a joke about dieting. “A WeightLoss book written by Physicists would be 1 sentence long:”Consume calories at a lower rate than your body burns them.”” While it makes for a pithy tweet, as dieting advice it is easier said than done. When people get frustrated with realistic dieting, which is often boring in nature and slow in results, they can get swayed by a new, flashier option. This is where fad diets enter the picture. The a fad diet is just like any other craze. It is a diet that suddenly becomes especially popular. They also often promise to help dieters lose more than a pound or two in a week, offer extreme results without making any major lifestyle changes and usually severely limit food choices. These diets often seem to work, at least at first. The promotions sometimes show “before and after” pictures of people who were able to shed pounds so rapidly that they are somehow still standing in their oversized jeans. Fad diets can lead to quick results, though this is often because the body is responding to the diet by dropping lean muscle mass and water weight. The sudden dip muscle mass is actually detrimental to weight loss, as greater muscle mass leads to a faster metabolism. The loss of water weight will be reversed as soon as the person gets hydrated. The truth is that most often the only kind of healthy, lasting weight loss involves incremental lifestyle changes and gradual weight loss. Specialists recommend that people looking to drop weight aim to lose one to two pounds a week. To break that down, one pound of fat is equal to roughly 3,500 calories. That is well over the average daily caloric intake for both men and women. The average male should eat around 2,500 calories a day, and the average female should eat 2,000. This means that in order to lose a healthy pound in a week a person needs to cut over a day’s worth of calories. When that calorie deficit is spread out over seven days it averages to be a decrease of 500 calories a day. That is reasonable. Cutting 500 calories in a day can be achieved by having fewer snacks and eating reasonable portion sizes. Losing weight at this rate is healthy, attainable and can lead to lasting changes. But, as with many things, the simplest answer isn’t always the sexiest. Watching the scale tick down slowly over months of portion control and exercise doesn’t sound as appealing as a diet that promises to help people to drop two dress sizes by Friday. Unfortunately dieting is one of those fields where, if it sounds like it’s too good to be true, guess what? It’s not true. Not only is it untrue, these diets often range from mildly to wildly unhealthy. Meal plans like the paleo diet or the Atkins diet probably won’t put anyone in the hospital, but they are so restrictive that most people get frustrated and quit. Other extreme diets, like the Air Diet, which is exactly what it sounds like (with an allowance for the occasional bowl of salted water), are so extreme that they can lead to serious and lasting bodily harm. Weight loss is not something you can be done over a weekend, and diets that make extreme promises can cause more problems than they prevent. Lasting lifestyle changes take time and are best introduced at a speed that is easily adaptable. ]]>

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