There are a lot of popular diets out there. So we thought we’d create a simple video investigating which ones are scientifically sound, and actually work. From the outside it seems like a simple equation: your weight is determined by the balance between the calories you take in, and the calories you burn. By changing what you eat or your activity level, you can tip this equation towards weight gain or loss. Which brings us to our first category of diets: Calorie Restriction.
Companies like WeightWatchers claim you can eat whatever you want, as long as you stay below prescribed number of daily calories. Getting all your calories from junk food is technically allowed, but from a health perspective, it’s important to think of the nutritional value of the foods too. If you don’t, you risk heart problems, nutrient deficiencies, and chronic health issues. Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutritionor CRON diets generally reduces their caloric intake by 20% while still meeting the daily nutritional requirements.
For example, instead of having a whole apple, a CRON dieter will just have the apple skin, which contains most of the nutrients. If used properly (and not excessively), calorie restriction can be a safe and effective tool for weight loss. Next up is Carb Restriction. Many diets like the South Beach, Atkins, or Zone Diet suggest that carbs are the enemy of the fit body you’ve-always dreamed of.
The ideology claims that when more carbs are taken in than burned off, the liver converts them into fats. But for most healthy, reasonably active people, carbs are broken down to glucose and transported to the cells for energy. Very little is actually turned into fat. In response to excessive glucose, the body uses insulin to turn it into glycogen, which is stored in the liver and muscles. This glycogen may later be broken down in times of low glucose, to refuel the body.
But the type of carbs you eat does matter – those from simple sugars like honey, fruit or sugar are more readily turned into triglycerides or fat than complex carbs like whole grains and veggies. If you consistently eat way more than necessary, and most calories are simple carbs, then these will be converted to fat.
Low carb diets often have an extreme restriction at first; no starches like bread or pasta, and no sugars including from fruits or even alcohol. This can lead to some intense side effects, including constipation, dry mouth, bad breath, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea.
In studies, carb restriction dieters tend to lose weight faster, initially, compared to those simply using calorie restriction, but this is likely due to water loss, which returns in later phases when you’re encouraged to eat normally again. On top of this, the Atkins diet, for example, promotes caloric intake from high-fat and high-protein sources, which means meats, cheeses, cream, butter and losing weight? Sounds pretty good right? But many doctors show concern over the high intake of saturated fat – that may lead to more ‘bad’ cholesterol and therefore an increased risk of heart disease.
Some claim these kinds of diets are dangerous and unhealthy, given that they promote the limitation of foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, or apples, that provide the body with important micronutrients and vitamins. Instead, people require supplements, which the body is not able to absorb as effectively as vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients in whole foods. Then there are High Protein Diets.
The main principle is that protein rich foods are not as easily broken down by the body and take more energy to digest than carb-rich food. This means you won’t feel hungry again as quickly, and you’re more likely to run a caloric deficit than if you ate the same number of calories from carbs.
The Paleo Diet, for example, suggests that10,000 years ago agriculture was introduced, and the human diet changed from hunter-fathers eating primarily meat, wild fruits, veggies, and nuts, to diets containing more grains and as a result, some believe the human body isn’t designed to digest these processed foods like grains, dairy, and bread.
Some also believe that grains lead to inflammation-related health problems, but this is largely untrue except in the case of people with celiac disease. But because of its straightforward guidelines, many find it easy to follow, and it does promote more nutrient absorption. However, as Paleo cuts out all grains and legumes, we lose an important source of dietary fiber necessary to keep our bowels running smoothly.
Not to mention the high protein leads to nitrogen production meaning stinky farts! Add to that constipation which allows your digested material to sit longer in the large intestine and continuing to decompose and Smelly farts. Now there is another class of diets we might call the “Just Stop Eating” Diets.
Those looking to ‘get slim quick’ might be tempted to only eat cabbage soup for 7 days, or do the ‘Master Cleanse Diet’ which only allows salt water in the morning and a concoction of water, maple syrup, lemon and cayenne pepper through the day, and a laxative tea at night – but these diets are exceptionally unhealthy. Not only is most of your weight loss from water weight, but there are many side effects such as dizziness, fatigue, dehydration, and nausea.
The Master Cleanse can ever lead to a white tongue, which some claim is the toxins leaving your body, but it’s actually due to swelling and a yeast infection of the mouth. after going through all that, you’re likely to gain any weight lost after stopping. Then, of course, there are straight up crazy diets.
Like eating cotton balls dipped in soup or juice so that you feel full, which of course provides hardly any nutritional content and can cause intestinal blockages which require surgical intervention or how about the sleeping beauty diet where you just.
Sleep? You can’t eat if you’re always asleep! The truth is most diets focusing on quick, dramatic results also have a ‘yo-yo’ effect, where you lose initial weight but slow down your metabolic rate, so your body starts burning fewer calories and when you start eating again.
There’s all the weight back, and often more! After following contestants from the show‘The Biggest Loser’ for 6 years – some of which who had lost hundreds of pounds in7 months – scientists noticed something interesting. Not only did most of the participants in the study regain their weight, but their metabolic rates changed.
One man in particular now burns800 fewer calories a day than would be expected for a man his size! This is 6 years after leaving the show, showing how extreme measures to lose weight – while they may be successful at the time – have long lasting impacts on your metabolism, making it harder to keep off weight in the future.
The hard truth is, that even using many of the principled diets, about 97% of people regain everything lost and sometimes more within 3 years. If you want to lose weight, finding a diet that works for you and keeps you motivated, with small incremental changes is important. Of course, a number on a scale doesn’t measure how healthy a person is, though many struggles with this perception. If food and weight preoccupations are a problem for you or someone you know, check out the description of this video for links with more information.