Dieting is something that many of us will have some experience of, whether it is for weight loss or weight gain. The BBC website states ‘more than one in four adults in the UK are trying to lose weight "most of the time"’ according to a 2004 survey. The results of a survey reported on in the Mail Online also showed that ‘the average 45-year-old has been on 61 diets’ without reaching their goal weight.
However, the concept of a diet is quite simple. You simply eat 'a reduced number of calories per day in order to lose weight', as eHow explains. The real issue is the fact that it can be very difficult to change your habits – Most diets involve a significant change in a person's normal eating habits over an extended period of time’, and this can be ‘hard because it relies on our willpower to keep us on the right track’.
Of course, there are numerous feel-good stories published every year about people that have beaten the odds in losing hundreds of pounds worth of weight, and though these stories can be uplifting and moving the dieters themselves may have gone through hell to reach their target weight. The science behind dieting may have been working against them the entire time, as the human body can play a number of tricks against itself to stop dieting from working.
The British Nutrition Foundation believes there are a total of 108 reasons why dieting is so difficult, ranging from issues such as peer pressure and psychological drawbacks to physiological problems and even the environment. Diets can, in fact, be ineffective no matter how closely they are followed by the dieter. The main point to this article is that, when dieting, our bodies go into ‘starvation mode’ (also known as starvation response), which can be very unhealthy.
As Wikipedia states, it is ‘a set of adaptive biochemical and physiological changes that reduce metabolism in response to a lack of food’. Many celebrities choose to go down the route of extreme dieting in order to lose weight, but severely restricting calories actually prevents our bodies from burning unwanted fat stores effectively - and unfortunately, this means that weight loss slows down’.
Signs and symptoms of starvation mode include vitamin deficiencies, a lack of sex drive, depression, anxiety, food obsession and weight regain. Fasting diets are very popular with celebrities as a way to cleanse the body of toxins before going on a more comprehensive diet but there is no scientific evidence that fasting detoxes the body, Our bodies are already pretty self-sufficient'. Fad diets such as these don’t work, and there is evidence to prove this, the best success can be achieved by following a sensible and easy to follow diet plan.
Fad diets that are designed with quick weight loss in mind can help you to lose a ridiculous amount of weight in a very short space of time, but as the Reader's Digest says 'the majority of the weight you drop when you lose weight too quickly tends to be water weight, which can lead to rapid dehydration'. Also, the lack of calories in your daily diet can mean you get tired faster as 'calories are what translate into the energy your body needs to get through the day', and unfortunately 'losing weight too quickly can lead to severe diarrhoea'. Also, the Reader's Digest says that 'if you restrict your body from its normal caloric intake over a long period of time, your body will be deprived of its essential nutrients and you’ll become severely malnourished'.
Eating healthily is all about eating a balanced diet, not about restricting yourself to the extreme. It states that you should ‘eat the right number of calories for how active you are, so that you balance the energy you consume with the energy you use’, and that you should ‘eat a wide range of foods to ensure that you’re getting a balanced diet and that your body is receiving all the nutrients it needs’.