Updated: Jan 13
✦ Ok, so we’ve got the over-indulgent festive period out of the way again for another year and we are now well and truly looking ahead.
For many this means a moment of reflection and honest appraisal, habitually resulting in well intentioned pledges and commitment to positive change. One of the most common such resolutions relates to getting ourselves healthier in the year ahead, of becoming more active, taking up a new sport and, ultimately, losing weight.
Being of the fit and healthy persuasion at Brilliant-Online, we all fully endorse this. However, while striving for a healthier you it is still imperative to ensure you are adopting a safe approach that doesn’t end up being counter productive by actually compromising your well being. This is especially applicable to weight loss and dieting, with numerous fad diets and crazes out there that offer dazzling results that can often leave you worse off than before. Weight loss and image have become major obsessions in today’s culture but it is important to read the instructions and be aware of any potential hazards before embarking, if you will.
We’ve all heard of the South Beach Diet, the Atkins Diet, the Paleo Diet and the Macrobiotic Diet, amongst others. There are, absolutely, merits to each but deploying just one and maintaining a strict adherence to it could be damaging to your health. For example, the Paleo Diet, or the “caveman diet” as it is often termed, means sticking to food stuffs that were only available when humans first roamed the planet, prior to processed and packaged foods. Whereas this seems sound in theory, in practice it means we eliminate or severely reduce several key nutritional elements such as carbohydrates, saturated fats and dairy products.
Carbs help our bodies control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol, which fights the risk of chronic diseases; calcium and vitamin D, which are critical to bone health, are abundant in dairy products and reducing saturated fats can increase the risk of kidney and heart disease, as well as certain cancers. Researchers at the University of Melbourne suggest that the “Paleo diet could be particularly dangerous for people who are already overweight and who have sedentary lifestyles”.
Similarly, the Atkins diet enforces a heavily reduced intake of carbs to promote ketosis, the process where the body burns fat for fuel. Ok in moderation but an over reliance can lead to dehydration and eventually coma due to severe metabolic abnormalities. While advocates laud the short-term effectiveness of the Atkins diet, critics argue that it doesn’t offer a well-balanced diet, with dangerously reduced levels of calcium intake in particular.
It doesn’t really matter what the diet is, the common denominator seems to be they promise much but that they don’t necessarily deliver. Most diets are unbalanced with an inevitable absence of one or several key nutrients, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that our body requires to function at its best. Experts all agree that a diet eliminating one or more of protein, fat, carbohydrates and sugar should be treated with caution. You may witness weight loss but doing so too quickly and without proper nutrition and supervision could cause you to lose muscle mass in addition to fat and water, which isn’t a good thing.
One absolute truth is that dieting is tough so attempting to stick to one rigidly, especially in this hectic lifestyle world we now inhabit, is going to be a tall order. Experts say it is far healthier to simply employ a balanced diet, perhaps incorporating elements of several of the “Wow-Fad” diets. As long as one adheres to a sensible, balanced diet of vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts and healthy protein, washed down with sufficient levels of water then we are very much on the right track. And by balanced, we mean exactly that – while eating and drinking healthy most of the time, don’t hesitate to have that glass of wine or that slice of chocolate case from time to time! It’s all about moderation and common sense.
Of course, there will always be specific, individual cases that serve as an exception, where allergies and sensitivities need to be considered, but as a rule of thumb this balanced and sensible approach is the way to go. Turning to the research team at the University of Melbourne again seems apt as a conclusion:
“There is a very important public health message here. You need to be very careful with fad diets, always seek professional advice for weight management and always aim for diets backed by evidence.”
Diet is key but so is being active. You can eat a sensible, balanced diet and live well but if you are striving for true weight loss then incorporating the correct exercise regime is imperative. This may be a brisk walk along the beach at sunset, it may be indulging in a game of squash or taking a swim, playing footie or hitting the gym, its largely irrelevant as long as you are doing something. The broader positives of a balanced exercise regime have been well documented, but to serve as an aid for your weight loss goal it is a non-negotiable.
So you don’t need to reinvent the wheel when striving for weight loss. Keep it relatively simple, utilise common sense and moderation and you will be on the road to a healthier you in no time.
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