The Story of Weight Loss, Fad Diets and Quick Fixes
If you look back at how much you weighed when you first came to this country and how much you weigh now you are probably amazed at how much weight you have put on. This may be attributed to the diet and lifestyle you have adopted while living in this country. Over 60 percent of Americans are overweight and obese which makes the weight loss industry one of the biggest money making businesses. Like many people in this country, you may be looking for a quick way to lose weight. Here are some ways that people are trying to lose weight but do they really work?
Skipping meals and fasting
People believe the less they eat the more likely they are to lose weight. The truth is that you may gain weight from skipping meals. When you get into the habit of skipping meals, your body compensates for it by slowing down your metabolism as a way to conserve energy in anticipation of starvation. If you are one of those who eat just one meal a day, you may notice an initial weight loss which is not all attributed to body fat loss but more to body water loss, depletion of glucose stores in your body and muscle breakdown to provide energy. With time you end up with a lower metabolic rate and weight gain in form of body fat in place of muscle which is undesirable. My advice to you is to eat all three meals everyday and especially do not skip breakfast. After a whole night of fasting, you need to eat something at breakfast to jumpstart your metabolism. Smaller more frequent meals and exercise will keep your metabolism up.
A fad diet is an eating plan or program that promises quick and easy weight loss and whose popularity is usually short-term. Some popular fad diets are the Atkins diet, South Beach diet, Cabbage Soup diet and the Slim Fast plan just to mention a few. The plan usually requires one to eliminate some foods or entire food groups which can leave one deficient in some very important nutrients for health. It is easy to get caught up in these diet schemes so be cautious. Do not waste your money and time on them because most times they do not work.
There are many over-the-counter diet pills such as Hydroxicut, Zantrex 3, and Cortislim, that are constantly being advertised on TV and other media. They are not controlled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so they can make any health claim. These diet pills often have very high levels of caffeine and other substances that cause many side effects and can be harmful to your health and sometimes fatal. These side effects are not always listed on the bottle so you have to do extensive research to determine for yourself if it is really worth the risk.
There are other different things out there being promoted to help with weight loss such as cellulite massage creams and oils, body wraps, colon cleansers, hot baths and saunas but they all do not work.
Here are some ways to help you recognize these questionable quick-fixes;
1. They promise rapid weight loss of more than 2 pounds per week when followed correctly
2. They often have personal testimonials of “before” and “after”
3. They use catch phrases like “ Melt fat while sleeping” or “Eat all you want and lose weight”
4. They promote and require you to purchase certain foods and supplements that are often very expensive
5. They have very strict rituals to follow in order to lose the weight but it is often very hard to keep up with these rituals.
6. Physical activity is not emphasized or promoted.
7. Usually sound too good to be true and most often they are just that!
Always remember that the companies promoting these products are there to make money. They do not design products that result in permanent weight loss otherwise they would not be in business. These products and the health claims they make are not controlled by any government body so they are free to make any claim just to get your money. Be careful!
What then is the best way to lose weight? We shall explore and answer this question in part 2 of this article in the next issue of Mshale.
Murugi holds a Masters of Public Health in Nutrition from the University of Minnesota. She is a Registered Dietitian and a Licensed Nutritionist in the State of Minnesota. She is a nutrition instructor at Century and Inver Hills Community Colleges and teaches nutrition classes in the community. You can reach her at [email protected]
Murugi holds a Masters of Public Health in Nutrition from the University of Minnesota. She is a Registered Dietitian and a Licensed Nutritionist in the State of Minnesota. She is a nutrition instructor at Century and Inver Hills Community Colleges and teaches nutrition classes in the community.