Weight loss is a concern for millions of people around the world. In fact, in the US, obesity is at epidemic levels, with 2/3 of all adults either overweight or obese. Why is it so hard to lose weight? And why do so many seek extreme measures that may be more detrimental to their health than being overweight is?
The truth is many of us want easy and fast fixes, and some really don’t want to work for it. But, safe and lasting weight loss requires time and effort, and safety is key when you consider the many extreme fad diets out there that can do a lot more harm than good.
Before starting a weight-loss program speak to your doctor, especially – but not only – if you have an underlying condition, such as type 2 diabetes. The American Heart Association advises that your healthcare provider will be able to assess your weight loss needs, risk factors and help you to set realistic and safe goals.
This plan of action is also encouraged by the Mayo Clinic, which emphasizes that your doctor is one of the best sources of information and referrals, as he or she can recommend safe weight loss plans, support groups or a competent dietician.
Stay away from supplements
The American Heart Association warns that dietary supplements sold for rapid weight loss are mostly unproven and make claims that they cannot back up. And just because it’s a natural health supplement, doesn’t mean it’s safe. Many of these products have not tested for safety by the FDA.
Dietary supplements containing ephedra have been banned by the FDA, because of serious health risks including cardiovascular complications. Even supplements that contain no ephedra can be risky. Most of them contain caffeine, which can result in an increased heart rate and arrhythmia.
Slow and steady wins the race
Experts advise that safe weight loss is between one to two pounds a week. Such slow progress might appear discouraging to some, but it is safe and most important sustainable.
Rapid weight loss has side effects, which are exacerbated the longer you stay on the diet. These range from gallstones and malnutrition to fatigue and hair loss, according to WebMD. While short term calorie reduction may not cause much harm, the truth is drastic diets that greatly reduce caloric intake are not sustainable for the long term, and is it not permanent long-term results that you seek? In addition, research has shown that the slower you lose weight, the less likely you are to put it back on.
Avoid yo-yo dieting or weight cycling
The problem with yo-yo-dieting is you seesaw back forth without any lasting results. You try one diet and lose some weight, only to put it back on again, so you go back on another diet, and the cycle repeats, for many people, this cycle repeats numerous times throughout their lives. Some research, according to WebMD, has linked yo-yo dieting to a reduction in HDL “good” cholesterol.
The jury is still out on just how bad yo-yo dieting is for you, but experts say that it does more harm than good. The benefits of a well-balanced diet far outweigh the possible harm of yo-yo dieting.
Balance is key
Many dietitians agree that cutting out an entire food group, like carbs, can be harmful to your health. The American Heart Association says that if you eliminate or drastically reduce carbs, you’ll miss out on many vitamins, minerals and fiber and your body will start looking for energy elsewhere.
It explains that if your body is low on glucose, it breaks down lean muscle mass to provide the stored glycogen. The stored glycogen contains water. Muscle breakdown and the water associated with it can cause rapid weight loss, which can lead to kidney damage. It is always advisable to eat a range of foods across all food groups.