About 14% of Americans go on a diet every year. We lay out about $33 billion annual on products that promise weight loss. However, about 66% of Americans are overweight or obese.
Obviously, all those diets are not working. And yet, you will hear about the latest and greatest diet – the no-carb/all-carb, eat like the French or a caveman, eat less/more, drink shakes…. They promise you anything.
And the dark side of dieting is that diets are very hard on your body.
In fact, your diet might just be killing you. Here are 12 reasons to rethink your dieting strategy.
Short Term Thinking Doesn’t Work
Many diets are based on strict calorie cutting, radical food limitations, or extreme life style changes. You might lose a lot of weight on one of these diets.
The drawback is you won’t be able to maintain the diet long term. They lack important nutrients or are too hard to keep up.
And when you can’t stick with it, the rebound effect can be worse than the diet!
Losing weight is really important to your heart. But it turns out that weight gain increases your risk of heart disease. In fact, large variations in weight can double your odds of dying from heart disease.
As your weight yo-yos you risk developing coronary artery disease. This means the arteries to the heart narrow and that causes your heart of work harder.
And that increases your risk of high blood pressure.
Increased Blood Pressure
Losing weight can lower your blood pressure. But as you yo-yo your weight with diets, you may see increase in your blood pressure. What’s worse it that the cycle of weight loss/weight gain seems to lessen the effect of losing weight on blood pressure.
Fortunately, once you stop yo-yoing your weight and keep the weight off with life style changes, this effect on blood pressure fades.
You won’t believe the next health issue!
Increase Chance of Diabetes
Diabetics are encouraged to lose weight to help their bodies control diabetes. And it works. The problem is that yoyo weight changes increase your risk of diabetes by 78%. Researchers think yoyo weight damages your metabolism.
Many cyclic dieters lose weight and then put it back on the belly. Belly fat seems to increase odds of developing diabetes. It also increases insulin levels. Putting on more weight than you took off can increase your risk as well.
Dieting Can Lead to Eating Disorders
Dieting can trigger eating disorders. In fact, the rate of obese people with eating disorders is increasing faster than people who only become obese or only develop eating disorders.
Being constantly hungry and wanting to lose weight can lead to binging. Constantly focusing on dieting can create a negative self-image, obsession with food, and depression. Competitive dieting can lead to unhealthy attitudes toward food as well. Males suffer this as well, only usually in a physical activity context.
You don’t have to drink like a fish to get cirrhosis. Obesity and constant weight changes can lead to fatty liver. Your body sticks extra fat into the liver and it can’t function well.
Fatty liver can lead to type 2 diabetes since the liver can’t properly metabolize fats and sugars. Long term fatty liver can lead to chronic liver failure. Most research is on mice, but the evidence is pretty compelling.
Those are health implications. Read for physical ones.
Increased Body Fat
You are working to lose weight, but as your weight yoyos, your body actually increases the percentage of body fat. It is easier for your body to add fat than it is to add muscle, so as you gain weight, your body is happy to store fat. One hypothesis is that your body thinks there may be a famine and stores fat, just in case.
Your body is likes to store belly fat and that can lead to diabetes.
Extreme dieting leads to muscle loss and that leads to decreased physical strength. Part of the process is a slowing metabolism in response to insufficient calories.
The only way to keep from losing muscle while dieting is to exercise, including weight training, and eat good quality protein.
How else does dieting cause weight gain? Read on.
Dieting Makes You Hungry
You may notice that dieting makes you hungry. One reason is extreme calorie restrictions of fad diets. The other is a normal reaction. Your fat cells release a hormone, leptin, which make you feel full.
As you lose fat, your body doesn’t release as much leptin. Your body thinks it needs more food. Couple that with muscle loss and your body decides you need to conserve energy.
This is why you feel tired while dieting and often end up heavier.
Fatigue and Mood Changes
Dieters have a reputation for being grouchy and tired. A low-cal, extreme diet leaves your body with fewer calories to convert into energy. It is a lot of effort to change fat into energy, so you will feel tired.
Blood sugar levels drop, and your body tries to convince you to replace them, so you crave food. You can also feel very irritable and tired as blood sugar drops – feeling hangry! Your body craves unhealthy food for an immediate fix.
Gallstones and Constipation
Lowering your caloric intake can change cholesterol levels. These can affect your gall bladder and sometimes extreme dieters end up with gallstones. These can be very painful.
Your body works best on a variety of foods. Fiber from fruits, vegetables and grain is very important to digestion and regularity. Restricting calories and food groups can have some unpleasant side effects. You may bloat, develop gas, or become constipated.
There are a lot of important reasons to lose weight. Your heart will be healthier. You decrease your diabetes risk. You feel better.
Yoyo weight gain from fad diets is extremely bad for your health. Yoyo weight may increase risk of heart attack by 117%. Your risk of stroke increases by 136%. Those are extremely scary numbers. Dieting with rapidly yoyoing weight is very bad for you.
It’s almost as bad as being overweight. So what to do….
If you are serious about losing weight, take the time to talk to a professional. You must make long term changes to your eating habits. Fad diets won’t help you and may hurt you very badly.
The best suggestion to lose weight is to clean up your diet – get rid of sodas and candy. Eat lower on the food chain – less red meat and a lot more from the produce aisle. Exercise – walk if you can’t run. Swim if you can’t walk. Find an exercise buddy.
You can do it. Just stay away from the fad diets because they can kill you!