Weight Loss Diets vs. Healthy Eating
The Difference between Dieting and Eating Healthy
Fad dieting for weight loss has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. In fact, over the past few decades even children and young teenagers have joined the “fad dieting” bandwagon. And yet, obesity rates are soaring. The reason these numbers continue to rise is simple – fad diets and “dieting” in general do not work.
Dieting is about cutting - cutting calories, cutting fats, cutting carbohydrates. Some diets even recommend cutting protein. Unfortunately, what are also being cut (dramatically) in these diets are nutrients. Many diets center on the notion that in order to lose weight you must “starve” your body. It is important to understand that the body responds to being starved by hoarding or holding onto body fat and as a defense mechanism will actually slow down metabolism. What’s more is that we know from statistical data that dieters tend to gain even more weight after they jump off of the diet.
The idea of dieting is that there is a period of time in which a person will follow a very specific eating regimen, and then eventually the diet will end. Unfortunately, most people then return to their normal eating habits and find themselves in need of yet another “diet” soon thereafter.
In contrast, healthy eating is about consuming foods that are beneficial and that help the body’s metabolism function at an optimal level. The only way to lose weight and truly keep it off is to embrace an active lifestyle and adopt a healthy eating plan that takes your biochemical individuality into consideration. Eliminating refined, processed, foods and beverages with high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners such as NutraSweet, Splenda and Equal are an important part of a healthy weight loss program. Chemicals and excess caffeine cause stress that disrupt metabolism, leading to a health loss and weight gain.
Overview of Problems with Weight Loss Diets
Most weight loss fad diets have a major down-side – they are unhealthy. Let’s examine a couple of the more popular diets being followed today.
The Atkins Diet
The Atkins Diet is a high protein/high saturated fat diet that limits (or eliminates) the intake of carbohydrates, including fruits, vegetables, breads, pasta, rice, potatoes and some dairy products. The biggest concerns are the lack of variety in this diet, the restriction of foods that are high in fiber, and the consumption of considerable amounts of saturated fats. Those who follow this diet often find themselves constipated, lethargic, nauseated and unable to sleep. Additionally this diet is known to cause a condition called ketosis, which is the process of burning fat stores for fuel. Sounds good, but it is actually dangerous as it depletes the body electrolytes, such as potassium, and puts a particular strain on the heart. Since the diet is so restrictive, it is virtually impossible to be healthy on this type of plan, leaving the dieter susceptible to nutrient depletion, heart disease, osteoporosis, premature aging and even cancer. Furthermore, it puts an unmanageable load on the kidneys because of excessively high protein consumption.
The South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet also ignores our biochemical uniqueness. Like the Atkins Diet, South Beach recommends unwholesome foods, such as margarine and aspartame, both well-known synthetic agents that cause a plethora of health issues. South Beach also offers misguided information about all fats, including trans fatty acids that are known to be harmful. To make matters worse you can now purchase packaged South Beach Diet foods. Packaged foods are highly processed and generally full of chemicals to keep them “fresh” and make them “taste good.”
The problem with Low Carbohydrate Diets is that they do not take into account the body’s basic needs. Fresh, whole complex carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and whole grains provide us with the energy we need in order to function. All the cells of the body rely on carbohydrates to provide glucose, which is not only a major source of fuel, but also the only source of fuel for brain energy and red blood cells. Carbohydrates also supply fiber to the diet, which is critically important to health and well-being.
What It Means to Eat Healthy
When you eat healthy you observe a diet that offers an appropriate balance of good quality proteins, fats and carbohydrates. It means that you choose foods that have high nutrient contents and help your metabolism function at an optimal level. It means that you remove barriers to good health and metabolic function by avoiding foods that are of poor quality, processed, denatured, chemically dense, and nutrient depleted. It means that you commit yourself to a long-term healthy eating plan combined with an active lifestyle that keeps you energized and motivated. A holistic nutrition professional can help you determine the best balance for your weight loss goals.