Dangerous Diet Don'ts
Weight loss means more than a change in the number on the scale. The number on the scale will also fall when you lose muscle and water (dehydration), but these are NOT what you want to lose. Dehydration causes many negative side effects including constipation, fatigue, headaches, poor exercise performance, electrolyte imbalances, and in severe cases, death! Muscle loss can lead to slower metabolism, weakness, and poor exercise performance.
Water loss from dehydration diet techniques and muscle loss from starvation diets are NOT HEALTHY, can be DANGEROUS, and are INEFFECTIVE for long-term weight (fat) loss success.
Here are Dangerous Diet Don'ts that
should be avoided.
- Avoid starvation diets: A starvation diet (sometimes called "detox diet") is an extremely low calorie diet. Sometimes these diets call for a "no solid food" phase for 10 to 14 days or consumption of weird potions and concoctions. These diets allow very limited food choices and generally require you to eat less than 1000 calories per day. Evidence-based research and medical professionals all recommend that people should not eat less than a minimum of 1200 calories per day. Why? Most importantly it can be dangerous and cause nutrient deficiencies. It is nearly impossible to get all the required nutrients your body needs to run properly and healthfully with less than 1200 calories per day. In addition, when you don't feed yourself enough calories, you will actually slow down your body's metabolism, making weight loss even harder. Plus, when you "starve" yourself, your serotonin levels will fall. Serotonin is an important brain chemical that makes us happy, relaxed, and satisfied; a drop in this neurotransmitter will make you feel agitated and just plain cranky. Finally, at this low energy level, it will feel almost impossible to exercise. Exercise is CRITICAL for long-term weight loss success. These "detox" diets promise quick weight loss, but they are not realistic long-term solutions to weight loss. As soon as you go off the diet and start eating real food, you will gain the weight back, and probably more. They are the quintessential catalyst of yo-yo dieting. Avoid these at all costs!
- Avoid dehydration techniques: Losing body water will only change the number on the scale temporarily. As soon as you re-hydrate, you will gain the water weight back. Normal body water weight is healthy and fine. We need it for all bodily functions to run properly. AVOID these ineffective techniques for weight loss; they really only cause temporary weight loss and can be dangerous: sauna suits, excessive exercise in the heat or with heavy clothes, detoxification and "cleansing" products (code word for enemas or laxatives) that cause diarrhea, and diuretic pills that make you urinate frequently.
- Avoid diet pills: They don't work. Period! Think about it: if all the magic diet pills marketed and sold actually worked, would the obesity epidemic continue to get worse? Scientific research continues to show that diet pills don't work. Plus, many of those diet pills sold are considered "dietary supplements" and do not require FDA approval or scientific evidence to prove efficacy or safety. They may contain unsafe ingredients that can negatively impact your health. The herb Ephedra was marketed and sold as a weight loss drug and ergogenic aid for years, but it was finally taken off the market due to its severe side effects and its implication in the death of several athletes. If you notice and read the fine print on the bottles of many diet pills, they all state that they are effective only when coupled with a healthy diet and exercise. It is the healthy diet and exercise that causes the weight loss, not the magic pill.
- Eating a healthy diet coupled with daily exercise is the key to long-term weight loss success. Avoid the unhealthy diet practices discussed above.