Diet advice is as common as dust. Much of that advice is misleading, and a portion is downright dangerous. Here’s a look at some of the most common weight-loss and diet scams and why they are worrisome.
Trying to lose weight by not eating is “crazy.” When you fast, you lose muscle before fat. And after a day or two of fasting, people often embark on a high-calorie binge. Long-term fasting is hazardous because it weakens your immune system and places a strain on vital organs. Herbal fasting is currently popular. People typically drink a herbal tea mix for a day to “cleanse” their system. Later, they ingest unlimited quantities of fruit juice. But juice is relatively high in calories, so weight loss probably isn’t significant.
Single-food Diet Scams
We all remember the once-popular grapefruit diet, built on the premise that enzymes found in grapefruit burn fat. It doesn’t take long to tire of the same dish and fall off your program. People shouldn’t feel too deprived while losing weight. If you really want a particular food, you can learn how to work it into a meal plan.
Also, single-food diet scams and other very restrictive regimens (fewer than 800 calories a- day) don’t provide adequate nutrition. The exception to this rule is a doctor-supervised liquid diet.
Diet Pills Scams
Weight-loss pills containing phenylpropanolamine (PPA) or benzocaine are marketed as appetite suppressants. But whether these claims are true remains to be seen. Avoid these products because they’re just a “crutch,” and the user isn’t likely to make the lifestyle changes needed for long-term success. Also, diet pills are dangerous for people with heart problems, thyroid disease and high blood pressure.
This quick diet fix may cause you to shed a few pounds in water weight. But it’s only temporary and doesn’t remove fat, the real measure of success. If abused, diuretics promote dangerous dehydration, plus changes in body chemistry. See a doctor if you suffer from fluid retention. If you are concerned with healthy weight loss, you will want to avoid this diet scam.
Some salons promise to tone you up by swathing you in plastic and subjecting you to high temperatures. This uncomfortable treatment will make you sweat and may lighten the scale a pound or two. But rest assured you’re just losing water weight, as well as your money. Using a sauna for the same purpose is also ineffective.
Skin Patches and Other Diet Scams
So-called “diet patches” that supposedly contain an appetite suppressant were popular some years ago. Few weight-loss scams elicit as many chuckles from health professionals. To date, there’s nothing you can put on your skin that melts the fat away. The FDA has already banned one batch of patches because they didn’t work. However, this hasn’t stopped other hucksters from selling equally dubious products such as body “sculpting” suction devices.
One problem is that government agencies are “overwhelmed” with trying to crack down on weight loss and diet scams. It’s important for people to understand there’s pretty much a wide-open market in terms of promoting various types of diet plans. In many cases, there’s no direct control to prevent persons, companies or individuals from offering all sorts of wild plans and ideas.
These high-tech devices have some legitimate medical use, but weight loss isn’t one of them. You may burn a few calories, but not enough to make a difference. Even more absurd is the notion you can zap pounds off selected areas, such as the hips or stomach. No diet or exercise can target a particular part of the body for fat reduction.
The Awful Truth
The only proven way to safely lose weight permanently is to eat less and exercise more. A sensible reduction plan exploits this basic principle, while promoting balanced meals. Also, exercising is necessary for toning muscles and maintaining your new weight. And you’ll probably need follow-up care to keep the pounds from creeping back.
Lots of people are successful in losing weight, but almost nobody keeps it off. It requires you to change your lifestyle, and people are really not ready to do that. Anyone with more than 10 to 15 pounds to lose should join a reputable weight-loss program. The heavier you are, the more supervision you’ll need.
Your reduction and maintenance plans should be low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables, and other complex carbohydrates. To achieve slow, steady progress – the sort of weight loss program that most experts recommend — figure on a daily intake of 12 to 14 calories per pound of body weight.
You must look at changes over time, not what you can change this week. Patients without medical necessity shouldn’t rush the process. Very low-calorie diets may not bring about dramatic results. That’s because your metabolism slows in response to a decreased level of food. Without a maintenance program, you’ll likely regain the weight. Also, before beginning a diet, check with your physician if you have an underlying medical condition or expect to shed 35 pounds or more.