The holidays are fast approaching, and many—well, most—of us may soon eat our weight in ham. Soon afterward, promises to swear off fats, carbs, or even dessert will be in abundance to drop a few lines from the weighing scale. There are those that will commit to a strict regimen, exercise included, to reach (or return) to their ideal weight before their next beach outing. Then there are others who might opt for a quick and easy fix; hence, the rise of fad diets.
The Cleveland Clinic describes a fad diet as a weight-loss method that excludes certain types of food from consumption—eat this, don’t eat that. Repeat until weight goal is achieved.
There is no shortage of fad diets promoted by various platforms that ‘guarantee’ quick results if people follow their instructions to the letter. However, completely ignoring a specific food group to follow a diet may deprive you of certain nutrients. While nutrients are not bad for you, an excess of a nutrient can pose health risks.
Carbs are bad, or are they?
Take for instance the low-carb diet. This comes in many forms, such as the famous Atkins, Paleo, Dukan, and Ketogenic diets. These limit the consumption of carbohydrate-rich food like rice, bread, or pasta in favor of alternatives that are high in protein and fat (unsaturated fat, to be specific).
Carbohydrates, once consumed, are broken down into glucose and used as a primary source of energy. Any excess glucose is stored as fat. Too many carbohydrates mean too much fat stored in the body, leading to weight gain. Uncontrolled weight gain, in turn, may result in obesity, which is beset with a myriad of health concerns such as high blood sugar, diabetes, and heart disease.
A diet that restricts further intake of carbohydrates makes the body break down the stored fat to be used as energy. Sounds good enough, right? It does, to a degree. According to a study by Shilpa and Mohan in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, a Ketogenic diet (limiting carbs to 50 grams a day) induces weight loss and helps control blood sugar and type 2 diabetes.
While a low-carb diet is sure to help in losing weight, it’s not suited for everyone. According to the Mayo Clinic, people whose bodies are still in development (like preteens) are not recommended to undergo such a diet as they still need the nutrients that can be found in food groups that are low-carb restricted, such as whole grains and starchy vegetables. Consuming too much protein and fat also have adverse effects, like kidney stones and high cholesterol.
Losing weight the healthy way
Dieting in itself is not a bad thing. It can act as a catalyst for change in your lifestyle, starting with food, which can have long-term effects. When given the right amount of focus, dieting could be simpler than it seems. As stated by S. Howell in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, caloric restriction is one of the most important tenets in preventing and/or managing weight gain.
A calorie is a unit of energy. When you eat, you get a certain amount of calories from the food you’re happily munching on. You use the calories that you have gained as your metabolism functions or as you do work. As mentioned previously, consuming too much of something can lead to weight gain. This idea also applies to the intake of calories. While not all types of food bear specific nutrients such as proteins or carbohydrates, they all contain calories. When you restrict the number of calories you take from the food you eat, you have less to manage or break down. A key acronym to remember is CICO: Calories In, Calories Out.
To determine the proper amount of calories you need in a day to lose weight, try consulting with a professional nutritionist. Alongside calories, you also need to manage your intake of nutrients for a healthier way of shedding some pounds. Getting to that ideal weight should not make you sacrifice things that are necessary to survive for quick results. It takes time, patience, and a change that you are ready to dive into.