More often than not the reason we care about what we eat is not our overall health but our overall weight. As we get fatter as a nation we look for any way we can slim down. Almost any diet works for a while but what works long term? The number one reason so many different diets work at least for a short time is not their exceptional nutritional guidance but it is the fact that you become highly aware of what you are eating. A diet as strange as the cabbage soup diet will work for a while if you pay attention to what you eat. Most of our extra weight comes from mindless eating. Those few extra chips, bowl of cereal, or piece of candy are the ruin of our waist lines. If we are dieting then we force ourselves to be mindful of what we are eating. I will cover some of the popular diets and the pros and cons of them.
First and often a popular one is the starvation diet. I realize starvation may be a bit of an exaggeration but severe calorie restriction is the same for your body whether it is from famine or the choice not to eat. The first reactions the body has is to use glycogen stores which accounts for much of the rapid weight loss in the first few days. Next the body slows the metabolism as much as possible. In order to conserve energy, muscle tissue is often pared back because it is very active and wastes precious energy. This excess protein from lost muscle is sometimes converted into fat. However if equal calories are stored fat weighs about half what protein does and fat does not store water while muscle does. This causes even greater weight loss and the illusion of fat loss. Finally when the desired weight is reached and the diet is over the body will trigger hunger to all for the storage of even more fat to protect against the next lack of food.
Most of us are aware of this so we look for more sophisticated ways to lose weight. This has led to a proliferation of diets like: Adkin’s, Paleo, gluten free, Sugarbusters, Ornish, blood type, and vegan. I will look at some of these next week.