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Beware of diets!

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You would like to lose a few pounds and have just heard of great new miracle diet. But does that really exist? What is the truth about weight-loss diets?

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Weight-loss diets

In the past few years, the number of overweight people has been steadily increasing, prompting the World Health Organization to call it an obesity epidemic. At the same time, our society has never been more obsessed with thinness and, as a result, miracle weight-loss diets keep popping up everywhere. How can we strike the right balance?

The desire to lose weight fast often makes people turn to quick solutions. They seem to promise so much and are so tempting that we unfortunately forget the dangers they might pose. There are all kinds of weight-loss diets, products and services out there: low-calorie diets, high-protein diets, low-carbohydrate diets, herbal teas, meal replacements and pills of all sorts are only a few examples of weight-loss solutions, and their number just keeps increasing. However, the vast majority of them don’t take into account the reasons why you are gaining weight, are full of false promises and can be very expensive.

How effective are weight-loss diets?

Weight-loss diets promise spectacular results in very little time, but is that realistic? There may be short-term weight loss, but the problem is maintaining it on a long-term basis. When the body is deprived of food, a person’s metabolism slows down, his or her mood changes, he or she has a hard time concentrating and lacks energy. The person also becomes fixated on food. After going back to eating normally, the appetite increases, the person eats more and the body builds reserves. Consequently, all of that lost weight can come back quite rapidly, and sometimes with a few extra pounds. In addition, many weight-loss diets don’t address the need to adopt healthy habits and make better food choices, which only makes it harder to keep the weight off.

What are the health risks of dieting?

Most diets present health risks. Indeed, they can lead to mild, temporary side effects, but can also have more serious consequences that can significantly affect one’s health.

Short-term adverse effects:

  • constipation;
  • diarrhea;
  • headaches;
  • dizziness;
  • hair loss;
  • etc.

Long-term adverse effects:

  • nutritional deficiencies;
  • heart problems;
  • conditions affecting the bones;
  • mood disorders;
  • etc.

In addition, one must be careful with ingredients that can be found in some weight-loss products since many of them can pose health risks. Speak with a health professional beforehand if you are thinking of purchasing such a product.

The “healthy” way

It is proven that dieting and deprivation are not effective, durable ways to lose weight. Also, it is important to ask yourself, first and foremost, if the reasons why you want to lose weight are justified and related to your health. So before undertaking a weight-loss process, here are a few questions to ask yourself and protect your health:

  • Does this weight-loss process involve a maximum loss of one to two pounds a week? Losing weight too quickly often leads to rebound weight gain.
  • Is it a global approach? It should be personalized and involve diet, physical exercise and changes to food-related behaviours on a long-term basis.
  • Does this weight-loss process include health professionals who can help you?
  • Is the nutrition aspect of this weight-loss process based on healthy choices? It is important to keep eating a variety of foods from all four food groups. To do so, consult Canada’s Food Guide.
  • Does this weight-loss process promote regular physical exercise? Choose an activity that you enjoy and do it progressively.
  • Does this weight-loss process present any health risks? Ask a health professional for more information.

Losing weight is a concern for countless people, many of whom unfortunately turn to weight-loss diets that are more harmful than beneficial. Don’t be fooled by so-called miracle diets; instead, opt for the healthy way of losing weight by simply making wise choices. And, more importantly, stay consistent. Your weight-loss process will be more effective if you commit to it on a long-term basis.

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