The Risks Involved With Three Popular Diets

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In the weight loss industry, there are several types of diets that have taken root and thrived. To give credit where it is due, it does work for some people. Personally, I remember a time in my previous “fat” life when my diet was modified till it was similar to the Atkins Diet. While that was not intentional by any means, I lost a couple of kilos during that period.

Today I’ll be talking about three popular diets that can work in the short term, but comes with some risks that you might not be aware of. Just to be clear, this information comes out of the Consumers’ Union of the United States, and is a result of reading the literature and interviewing doctors and dieticians.

Let’s start with the low fat/no fat diet. If you have any concept of calories, you will know that each gram of fat is equivalent to nine calories. So obviously reducing your fat intake equates to weight loss, right? Furthermore, proponents also claim that such diets can also lower the risk of heart disease, and lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

While the points above are indeed true, lacking in dietary fat can result in a deficiency in essential fatty acids. Subsequently, you might have trouble absorbing fat-soluble vitamins. Furthermore, evidence suggests that unsaturated fat can help protect your heart, reduce Type 2 diabetes risks and have other benefits. My verdict – in terms of calories, all fats are equal. In terms of benefits, they aren’t.

Next we move on to the high-protein diet. This might be the most followed one yet. They come by different gimmicks, such as the Scarsdale, Stillman, and Atkins diet. (Ok, maybe I shouldn’t have used the word “gimmicks”, it’s kind of disrespectful. My apologies). Anyways, these gimmick diets (sorry, not sorry!) will claim that you will drop the kilos, feel more energetic, and reduce heart disease risk.

The way it really works is that by eating more protein, people will inevitably consume less calories. I specifically state this is my book “Strategic Nutrition Guide”. These diets also advocate drastic reduction in carbohydrates.  The problem here is that by reducing carbohydrates to extremely low levels, your body will then tap into fat and muscle for fuel.

So what’s the problem – fat and muscle, when used as a constant supply of energy is unnatural! This is like manipulating your metabolism. And like any other forms of manipulation, bad things will happen sooner or later. In this case, using another energy source could mess with your normal brain functions.  Perhaps it’s like using the wrong kind of fuel for your car. Ok, maybe that was exaggerated a little.

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The other thing that can, and will happen is that your kidneys will be taking a pounding, and so will your liver. These are the organs that are responsible for breaking down toxins, so you do not want to overwork them. Although I haven’t had kidney stones, I assume they are no fun. Excess protein can also leach calcium from your bones, leading to osteoporosis.

Finally, we will explore the gluten-free diet. It is estimated that in the United States, one percent of the population has coeliac disease and six percent have gluten sensitivity. Some evidence also suggests that gluten can actually help fight heart disease and reduce blood pressure.  I’m a bit sceptical about this though.

The apparent danger of this is that many foods without gluten are higher in calories, fat and sugar than the wheat-based versions. The example given is that a plain bagel has 270 calories, two grams of fat and seven grams of sugar, while a gluten-free equivalent has 340 calories, seven grams of fat and 14 grams of sugar. Furthermore, some consumer reports have found that some gluten-free products contain small quantities of arsenic, which is a carcinogen (ie can cause cancer). Scary thought, isn’t it?

Well, when the dust settles, only you can decide what kind of diet you want to follow. The Strategic Nutrition Guide that I have written does not advocate for a specific diet. Instead, it teaches you essential principles that will help you be sensible about things. Sure, you can continue being lazy, uneducated and simply follow a “cookie cutter” diet. To be honest, they can work in the short term, but will have side effects in the long-term. The health risks are simply not worth it.

Think about it.

Mark

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