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Why Not To Diet.

Safiyah Esack 2013

When is comes to health and fitness, everyone is looking for a quick fix. Commonly, the search is on for the best new diet that is going to help you to lose weight FAST! But does any of it actually work? And what damage are you doing to your body in the meantime? After much experimenting and research, it is now possible to bring you the important facts.

How many branded weight-loss products are on the market at the moment? Each selling their own foods, eating plans, diet pills, meal replacement shakes and nutritional supplements. Most of them are endorsed by medical professionals, all of them portraying beautiful, healthy people in their advertising; so how can we even start to separate the fact from fiction?

Firstly, let’s take a look at meal replacement shakes. The key is in the title, in a healthy, balanced lifestyle, why does the phrase “meal replacement” sound like a good option? These shakes are newly branded as a ‘natural’ product, however there is little natural about drinking a powder based shake. All “meal replacement” products lack in nutrients your body needs, whether that is in mere calorie quantity or the quality of the ingredients.

A well-established website and fitness brand (www.livestrong.com) states: Although meal replacement shakes offer an easy and convenient weight management solution, this does not come without problems. Using meal replacement shakes does not teach healthy eating habits or portion control, so it is not uncommon for people to regain the weight they lost as soon as they return to a regular diet. Meal times in the family home can make you feel isolated as the rest of the family enjoys a regular meal while you consume a shake. Because most meal replacement shakes are low in calories, you may feel hungry and tired, which can lead to poor adherence rates. The rapid weight loss associated with meal replacement shakes can also result in loss of lean muscle mass, which reduces your metabolism and results in greater weight gain when you return to your normal diet.Meal replacement shakes often contain large amounts or artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives. These chemicals can cause hyperactivity, allergic reactions, headaches, nausea and digestive discomfort in anyone sensitive to these ingredients. Although most meal replacement shakes are fortified with vitamins and minerals, they do not contain sufficient essential fats, fiber and other healthful nutrients to maintain health and well-being. Meal replacement shakes are essentially a form of processed food, which means that they should be consumed in moderation and not excess. Additionally, the low number of calories provided by meal replacement shakes can leave you feeling tired and weak which can prove dangerous in certain work and leisure situations.”

The solution; eat a small balanced meal, save your body and your wallet (from fees and contracts). If you struggle with a certain meal, and feel that the convenience of a prepared drink will help, then pre-prepare a smoothie yourself. Use real ingredients, and enough of them to constitute a full portion, and feed your body with whole food. If you are taking a “meal replacement” shake as it is advertised to fulfill the body’s vitamin needs; try just eating as well as possible and where necessary take a vitamin supplement in addition to your food if you still feel you are lacking something, but do not take instead of.

The second common weight loss trend is to go on a fancy-named crash diet, or a more specific no-carbohydrate diet. Using these extreme methods you will see results quickly, due to the body using up its fluids as temporary fuel, dehydrating every cell. What you will also see is the majority of weight will be lost from muscle mass, which is necessary for a functional body structure and for effective, healthy weight maintenance. Later on,the fat starts to break down, although it is mainly the fat around your internal organs and the cells of your internal organs. Without eating carbohydrates for energy, your body has to use the proteins that should be being used for daily cell and muscle building; therefore the weight you are losing is a break-down of your entire body (as well as slowing your fat loss as lean, beautiful muscle burns fat around 3 times quicker than fat cells on their own).  These forms of diets have also been linked to low bone density and other body disorders.

On www.cnn.com, another health issue caused by crash dieting is discussed;Dr. Rosenfeld says. Crash dieting repeatedly increases the risk of heart attacks. Yo-yo dieting can also damage your blood vessels. All that shrinking and growing causes micro tears that create a setup for atherosclerosis and other types of heart disease.”

The myth that carbohydrates are bad for the body has stemmed from a long-term abuse of them in most countries of the world. But in reality, they are an essential food group and are needed for energy, so try looking at portions before cutting any food group out of your life, remember that balance means everything. Crash diets are therefore a dangerous, temporary phase; after completion of the diet (if you survive in good condition) it will have added to the slowing of your metabolism and on eating again, the weight will fly back on quicker than ever before.

A plain incite is given by website www.medall.in as their Doctors try and sum up the dangers of crash dieting: Crash dieting may seem like a magic formula, but actually, it’s a deceptive method of losing fat. The weight that you lose is not fat, but the water in your body. Since your calorie intake is reduced, your body uses up the fluids to compensate for the food shortage. So while you may have lost out a lot of bloat, your actual weight and fat content still remains the same. The instant danger of this is severe dehydration which may set off other complications. So by crash dieting you’re not only punishing yourself by starving and depriving your body of vital nutrients but also putting your health into danger. When you crash diet, you have heavy food restrictions. And since your food intake is less, your metabolism rate slows down which automatically results in less fat burning. Crash dieting also leaves you feeling weak and limp because of the extreme food limitations. The rapid weight loss can also lead to fatigue and dizziness. Crash diets restrict foods that are rich in calcium which is important for the upkeep of healthy bones. When your body does not get its daily dosage of calcium, the risk of developing osteoporosis is very high. It is a condition where the bones become brittle and fragile, making them easily prone to fractures. The vital organs of our body rely on the daily supply of nutrients to function smoothly. When you crash diet, the organs are deprived of their energy sources to perform and hence they will begin to burn their own muscle tissue to get energy. This will gradually result in organ damage and ultimately failure of the organ itself. So remember, crash diets are only a short term solution to lose weight, besides its unhealthy too. While it may help you melt those extra pounds, you won’t actually be losing any of the unwanted fat and calories. The best way to fight the bulge is by following a balanced healthy diet and combining it with regular exercise.”

As for weight loss pills, and other purchasable solutions, the dangers are clear and imminent; often much worse than the previously mentioned forms of dieting. So, what is the actual answer? How can you effectively lose weight in a healthy way and maintain it for life? Most people know the equation: Exercise more, eat less; that will work initially but for how long can your exercise increase and food decrease?

The answer is a complete lifestyle change; but that won’t happen over-night, it needs to be gradual; changing in a way that works for you, so you can still live your own life and be yourself. Not everyone can live on a diet of chicken fillets, sweet potato and broccoli; so you need to make choices that you will stick to. This is NOT a “diet”, this is your LIFE! Make your choices natural and seek help if you are unsure about anything. Exercise doesn’t need to be hours and hours of standing on a treadmill; in fact it could be 3 x 30 minute sessions a week, of quality training specifically tailored around you, your body and your needs. Then, just make sure you rest, repair and sleep enough; in this way the weight will come off, at it’s own pace, healthily; and that’s just where it will stay.

Following this new life choice, there is nothing wrong with treats every now and then. If you cut out foods completely you are only going to crave them more and then binge on them. Plus, if this is a lifestyle then you must be allowed to live it. But it is important to know what a treat is; it’s not a necessary food, so only eat it to enjoy it! Following the Sunnah of moderation, control and awareness.

If you are looking to lose fat and be healthier, remember it isn’t a quick fix; the dangers of dieting far out weight any positive results. Make the decision for yourself and work it around your current life. Health is a lifestyle, not a short-term diet; start by observing portion controls and balancing food groups, with the addition of a little exercise; adjust little aspects gradually. Professionals are always available to help you.

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