Let me start off by naming a few diets and the categories they belong to, which you may be familiar with:
- Atkins (Low/ no carbs)
- The Keto Diet (Low/no carbs with one carb feed day)
- Low Fat Diets
- Cabbage Soup Diet (Crash course diets/ single ingredient diet)
- Calorie Counting Diets (Count the calories)
- Detox Diets (e.g. Herbal life, claim to cleanse the body)
- Diet shakes (Swapping meals for calorie controlled shakes)
- Liquid Diets (Consume nothing but liquids, normally a shake or a juice)
Now here’s the big question…… do they work?
In a word yes they do work. If you follow the guidelines set by the companies which made them, then you will most likely lose weight. But you know what else will work, if you lock yourself in a cupboard and have nothing but water for 2 weeks.
Which brings me to the next question, are they healthy?
As I answer this I will be referring to those diets which I have mentioned above and not all commercial diets, as there are simply too many to analyse, however they probably do very similar things.
So my answer has to be no, they are not healthy and I’ll tell you why. If you take the first category of low carb diets, where your diet will consist of protein and fat, yes you will lose weight but what kind of weight? There are plenty of stories where people use these diets and lose weight quickly, but when they stop they gain weight quickly. This is because the weight lost is actually just water weight. Carbohydrates (carbs) help transport water and other minerals to the body’s cells through the blood vessels, so with the absence of carbs in the blood stream, water cannot hydrate the body’s cells, forcing them to shrink in size and weight, causing the appearance of lost weight.
Now here is something you may not have known. When you exercise you have a few different energy systems, which in turn create their own waste products when used. When a muscle is worked without carbs (all the carb reserves have been used), it produces ketones, which leads to ketosis (a raised level of ketones in the blood stream). Now here’s the really interesting fact, ketones are very toxic to the body and have to be cleaned out by the kidneys, which puts them under stress and could potentially damage them if they have to continue to remove them from the blood. Why put your kidneys at risk for sake of losing weight which could be done in a better way…?
Low fat diets have been the bread and butter of weight loss programmes for the last 20-30 years. For many years people and health professionals have suggested and prescribed low fat diets to lose weight and some still do. You may hear that FAT IS THE ENEMY a lot, but in actuality we need fat. That’s right, it’s a hard truth to hear, but the truth whichever way you look at it. Let me explain myself, we need certain vitamins and minerals to survive, we can all agree on this. Well majority of the vitamins we need are fat soluble, which means they are stored in fat. So yes we need fat in ourselves so that we can store these minerals and yes we need to eat fat to absorb them in the first place. Ever seen the omega-3 adverts on the TV and how much we need them?? Guess what, that’s fat too. Fish oils are fat whatever way you look at it, so the point of this rant is that not all fat is bad. We have to try and not label fat as one whole evil substance, but as something we need when it’s of good quality. In the same way that there are good and bad types of cholesterol, the same is true of fat.
Thanks for reading and look out for part 2.
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