Overview of popular weight loss diets.
August 1, 2012 Admin 0
The Low Carb Diet
The low carbohydrate diet, including its variants like Atkins, Body Opus et al, aims to promote fat loss by reducing your intake of carbs, sometimes to very low levels. This diet has become popular and for good reason, it allows instant gratification by the fact rapid weight loss ensues through water loss as a result of reducing carbs. To the average joe, weight loss equals fat loss so this is one of the many draws (no pun intended) of the diet.
Interestingly, some of the origins of low carb diets are in the treatment of conditions like epilepsy, rather than it being a weight loss blueprint. Some indigenous populations like Eskimos have followed diets that are basically near zero carb for many years without ill effect, however it is very different to adopt this diet after having eaten considerably more carbohydrates for most of the time.
So do low carb diets work ? Well yes and no. Not everyone has the same insulin profile and not everyone will lose weight on a low carb diet. As long as you can stick to the diet though, you probably will lose quite a lot of fat. Many people report lethargy, some nasty side effects like acetone breath after fats are broken down due to Ketosis. For athletes and bodybuilders, it is necessary to return to a higher carb intake after some time to ‘refill’ muscle glycogen for optimum performance, aka ‘carbing up’. But for those who have not been brought up eating whale blubber on the ice flow, the low carb diet may leave you mentally and physically drained.
Low Calorie Diets.
Low calorie diets are simple in their aims, they don’t involve much ‘trickery’ and aim to reduce weight simply by ingesting less calories. Diets like ‘Weight Watchers’ and most other mainstream diets, seek to reduce calorific intake over the day by relatively simple means. Often, these diets avoid high fat foods because of their higher calorie profiles, which would make it harder for the dieters to stick to the alloted number of calories.
The concept of such diets is extremely misguided. Fats take longer to digest than any other food nutrient so they prolong satiety and prevent hunger for longer. Fat also adds texture and bulk to foods improving the taste and mouth feel. The average low calorie diet also makes no distinction for different types of carbs, i.e Fructose is treated with the same values as potato starch. As each carbohydrate has different digestion and potential fat accumulation potential, this is an extremely erroneous approach to take.
Many people who embark on low calorie diets rapidly fail due to the fact they soon become hungry. Besides the fact altering your energy intake somewhat drastically is a bad idea you are also fighting against millions of years of evolution where the fattest survived the longest and you aren’t using any advanced nutritional know-how to combat this.
High carbohydrate foods also serve as trigger foods which stimulate appetite and exhibit negative satiety properties. Such foods include, pasta, biscuits, bread etc. These foods are recommended on mainstream low calorie diets but often leave the dieter unsatisfied by the fact you would have to consume way over your calorie allotment to feel full or stop feeling hungry shortly after.
Appetite stimulation from substances like Neuropeptide Y is often why ‘low calorie’ dieters over-eat without even knowing it. Neuropeptide Y, a neurotransmitter which regulates (in this case) energy usage. It is known to stimulate eating behavior and to be related to behavioral patterns of carbohydrate ingestion.
You can read more about such peptides here
Mono Diets and Cabbage Soup type diets.
All I have to say on these types of diets is the body is extremely sensitive to deprivation of macronutrients. Diets like the Cabbage Soup diet and lacking in Protein and essential fats and sooner or later you will encounter what is sometimes referred to as ‘purge and splurge’ where an individual tries to follow a diet which deprives them of either calories, one or more particular macronutrient or other essential nutrients. What happens is, cravings build and the person will often binge on certain foods, negating the weight lost on the fad diet.
These are not only sensible but certainly also the least painful. The whole idea of dieting means going without. On this site, we are all about avoiding nutritional deficiencies rather than causing them through fad diets. Starting off with how many calories you think you are consuming at present and reducing that figure, slowly, is the first step. Avoiding processed and junk foods and substituing healthier alternatives is part and parcel of this.
Once you have eliminated the junk, planned your meals, and the old adage of consuming 5 or 6 smaller meals than 2 Caligulan style feasts is a good way forward also. You can then look at a target figure for calories, sometimes a bit more than x10 your bodyweight in lbs is a good starting point which can be decreased or increased depending on daily energy expenditure. If you sit at a desk all day, you are certain to burn less calories than if you were working on a construction site carrying girders and bricks all day.
Once the basics are in place (see above) you can fine tune your diet, and pay attention to things like eating more calories earlier on in the day as it has been documented that insulin sensitivity reduces in the latter hours of the day. If you are one of those folks that get hungry just before bed, snacking on protein rich foods like chicken breasts is a good tip.
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