Dark Magic: Why Diet Trends Keep America Obese

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of the adult American population is obese. In today's fast-paced world of instant gratification, many of these individuals are on a constant quest for the quickest route to shedding their extra pounds. Engaging in an exercise regimen is a good first step toward successful weight loss, but proper nutrition is equally important. If you are serious about setting goals for better health and a trimmer physique that will stay with you for years to come, find out why many of the fad diets that flood the media will work against you.

Give Up the Quest, Not the Goal

Achieving weight loss is hard. No certified nutritionist or licensed health care professional says that it will be easy. Yet, these individuals are constantly asked about the latest diet trends, weight loss pills and potions, and crazy rituals that all promise a beach-ready body in days to weeks. Such weight loss magic doesn't exist. Wouldn't it be astounding if it did? The news outlets and social media sites would be splashed with headlines about it, and obesity in America would be cured once and for all. A formula for quick and permanent weight loss is one of the most sought after bits of knowledge that will change the world if one is ever revealed. Until then, keep your eye on your weight loss goals, but give up the quest to accomplish it with unhealthy fad diets.

Fad Diets Are Not Healthy

Most physicians advise their overweight and obese patients to lose weight because it is the healthy thing to do. Being overweight greatly increases your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and a host of other health problems. This is the most compelling reason to avoid fad diets that promise miracles. They are not healthy. While you may initially lose the weight for a temporary period, these plans jeopardize your health in other ways by depriving your body of vital nutrients, potentially resulting in chemical imbalances that can be dangerous. For example, one such diet dictates that you eat a large amount of proteins and fats and few or no carbohydrates. Since you are not providing your body with carbohydrates that it can metabolize for energy, it is forced into a metabolic state known as ketosis, in which it must burn its own fat stores as an alternative energy source. While this is the body's normal response to carbohydrate deprivation, it is not how the body should normally work. In fact, ketosis is a milder form of ketoacidosis, a condition that is life-threatening in diabetics.  

Don't Crash and Burn

Some fad diets require either a severe restriction in food intake or fasting altogether for a period of time. Others call for eliminating entire food groups. These crash diets all make lofty promises of rapid weight loss. If you follow their rules, you will likely lose the weight. Then, two things happen. First, you feel tired, irritated, and hungry because the foods that they allow are not nutritionally complete and balanced and the amounts may be insufficient for feeling satiated. Secondly, you realize that you do not like feeling tired, irritated, and hungry, and so you fall off of the wagon. This leads to returning to your old eating habits that caused you to become overweight in the first place, and you pack the pounds right back on. In fact, because your body's metabolism has been altered, you may even gain more weight at a faster rate. Repeated weight loss followed by weight gain over the longterm is known as weight cycling, or yo-yo dieting, and it poses risks to your health. To avoid this scenario of failure, avoid the following types of fad diets:

  • Any diet that calls for fasting or detoxing
  • Any diet that shuns whole food groups, such as carbohydrates
  • Any diet that purports that you will lose weight by consuming only one food, such as cabbage soup or leek soup, for a period of consecutive days
  • Any diet that restricts caloric intake to near starvation levels for a period of consecutive days

You should also think twice about diet plans that provide you with approved prepared meals unless you are confident that you can learn to duplicate such meals on your own once the diet program has concluded. Avoid any diet that does not teach you the lifestyle changes that you need to make and adopt as sustainable lifelong habits.

Lifestyle Blue Print for Life

Exercise is only one part of the fitness equation, and healthy nutrition is another crucial component. Instead of seeking out a formal diet plan, adopt a meal plan of healthy eating that you will use as a guideline for the rest of your life. Achieving your weight loss goals is absolutely possible, but safe weight loss must be accomplished at a slow and steady rate of one-half to two pounds per week while learning to permanently follow these lifestyle habits:

  • Focus less on how many calories you consume and more on the quality of foods you choose.
  • Choose a meal plan that includes lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, and learn to love vegetables. Eat four to six meals each day.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain good hydration. As a general rule, divide your weight in half and drink the resulting number of ounces per day.
  • Engage in exercise five days each week for 30 to 60 minutes. Vary your physical fitness activities from day to day to avoid monotony and muscle injury.
  • Commit to getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night so that your body can rest and rejuvenate.

It takes time to embrace new good habits, but you have the power to kick bad habits to the curb right away. Sustainable weight loss and lifelong optimal health is the result of focus, dedication, and hard work. It means doing some things that you may hate initially to gain the body that you will love for life. 

For more information and tips for a healthy body, join a fitness club, such as Aspen Hill Club.