Sunday, March 21, 2010

Good Reasons Not to Diet

When trying to control our weight, many of us try to adjust our eating first, often using a too-good-to-be-true fad diet. But as you’ve learned, eating is just part of your body’s complex weight-management system—and many of the other factors are out of your control.

If you’re a potential dieter, here are the facts you don’t want to know:
• Most dieters succeed initially.

• Of those who do, very few keep their slimmed-down body weight for more than a couple of years. Most regain their original weight, along with a few extra pounds of anti-starvation insurance.

• Most dieters cannot lose large amounts of weight. As they reduce their food intake, the body slows its metabolism to compensate.

• Time is the great diet equalizer. Although some diets appear to work faster at first, the results are strikingly similar over the long term.

All of these points add up to a compelling reason not to diet—namely, diets rarely work. Unfortunately, a quirk of human biology makes diets appear to work better than they actually do, but only for the first few weeks. When you first reduce your eating, your body uses its storage of glycogen first. Glycogen is an energy reserve made up of sugar—it’s not as efficient as fat storage, so your body doesn’t keep a lot of it around. However, your body can get the energy from its glycogen reserve more easily, so that’s what it does. The trick is that glycogen can be stored only with a good bit of extra water. As you burn up the glycogen, your body releases the extra water. In other words, the easy initial weight loss of any new diet is usually excess water that your body will regain later. Fat is more persistent.

If all this isn’t bad enough, sudden weight loss may cause problems of its own, or at least fail to give you the health boost you expect. Here are the potential problems:

• When you lose large amounts of weight quickly, you’re likely to lose valuable muscle mass at the same time, especially if you aren’t performing a regimen of strength-training exercises.

• Some studies suggest that extreme dieting cuts out subcutaneous fat first, leaving the more dangerous visceral fat in place.

• Going through continuous cycles of weight loss and weight gain strains your body, and may encourage it to keep hoarding calories, making your weight creep up the scale.

Lastly, a body that’s been rapidly dieted down to a healthy BMI might not be healthy at all. Some controversial studies have discovered a phenomenon known as the obesity paradox. As you might expect, high BMIs are associated with higher rates of certain debilitating diseases (for example, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and chronic renal disease). But the obesity paradox finds that once people have these diseases, those with higher BMIs have better survival rates. Some scientists believe this effect is just an illusion that might be caused by the fact that, at their more severe, many of these diseases can cause weight loss. But many experts argue that it reflects the danger of rapid weight-loss regimens, which can eat up healthy tissue from muscles and organs along with fat.

Source of Information : Oreilly - Your Body Missing Manual

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