Do fad diets work?

People are too uptight about their weight and are handling that uptightness in a foolish way that doesn't work: dieting. 

Fad diets, as their name implies, are short-term quick fixes that actually set many dieters up for weight-loss failure. With all the focus on weight in our society, it isn't surprising that millions of people fall prey to these diets and bogus weight-loss products. Conflicting claims, testimonials and hype by so-called "experts" can confuse even the most informed consumers.

"Most fad diets go something like this: Take a few foods, give them 'magic' power, and set a plan to convince people that eating this way and only this way will promote weight loss," says Alexandra Caspero, RD, a nutritionist based in Sacramento, Calif.

Let´s see: it is well known that how much you weight depends on how much you eat and how much energy you waste but what most people don`t know is that hunger and energy use are controlled by the brain, mostly without our awareness. Our system works like a thermostat, responding to signals from the body by adjusting hunger activity and metabolism to keep our weight stable as conditions change. Our brain responds to weight loss by using powerful tools to push our body back to what it considers normal, so if we lose a lot of weight, our brain reacts as if we are starving and sends signals to slow down our metabolism, which of course makes it harder to lose weight.

There are hormonal responses too: as you lose body fat, the amount of different hormones in your body changes. And the hormones that help you feel full, or the level of those rather, decreases. The hormones that make you feel hungry, meanwhile, increases. So you become more likely to feel hungry, and less likely to feel full given the same amount of5 years after a diet most people have regained the way and 40% of them have gained even more, so if you think about this, the typical outcome of dieting is that we´re more likely to gain weight in the longer than to lose it.

Also, just as a car needs the proper gasoline to make it run, a body needs a healthy diet to develop properly. That means the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat; as well as a host of other nutrients. When you go on a fad diet and exclude necessary nutrients, you're putting yourself at risk for becoming ill. Getting too little of any nutrient may not cause an immediate problem. But if it's lacking for a long time, you may find you have health problems.

So the first step towards permanent healthy weight loss is, somewhat ironically, to lose the diet and the diet mindset. Instead think about a healthy plan that helps you take control of your health and enjoy your life. Regular physical activity is essential for good health and healthy weight management. The key to success is to find physical activities that you enjoy and then aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days of the week. Also, eating smarter is essential.

Mindful eating helps us learn to hear what our body is telling us about hunger and satisfaction. It helps us become aware of who in the body/heart/mind complex is hungry, and how and what is best to nourish it. Mindful eating is natural, interesting, fun, and cheap. It involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body. We pay attention to the colors, smells, textures, flavors, temperatures, and even the sounds of our food. In that way, we´ll learn to understand our body signals in order to eat when we´re hungry and stop when we´re full.

Finally, dieting, along with the frequent and compulsive weighing that accompanies it, can lead to eating disorders. According to experts, people who diet are 8 times as likely to develop an eating disorder as people who don't. So let`s stop wasting our time and energy on dieting and let`s start focusing on having a good lifestyle that has long term benefits in our health.

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