Why Diets Do Not Work
It has been written, "The American public has been dieting for twenty-five years - and has gained five pounds." If dieting were an effective method for the permanent loss of body fat, the first diet published would have been the last. As it is, every time you go to the grocery store you can read about 5 new "guaranteed to work" diets on the cover of the magazines at the checkout stand. Obviously, diets do not work.
Some people have lost weight while on a restricted calorie diet, however, for most of these people the weight loss was temporary and their body composition changed for the worse. This negative change in one's body composition is the result of the loss of water weight and lean body mass. While their total body weight may have dropped, their percent of body fat may actually have increased. Due to this increase, they have also increased their risk for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.
So why don't diets work? Simple. Diets merely address the symptoms of the over-fat problem and do not focus on the cause of the problem. Losing weight has never been the issue. In fact, most people can lose weight on any diet they try. The struggle is making sure that the weight being lost is actually fat - AND - being able to keep the weight off. The reason a person suffers from high levels of body fat is in large part due to the lifestyle habits they have selected. The lack of physical activity and an improper diet are the primary controllable causes of the over-fat problem. Until these two lifestyle choices are addressed, no healthy or permanent weight loss will ever occur. The best way to lose body fat is a combination of smart nutrition and aerobic exercise.
Smart nutrition has to do with a person's food selection and their eating schedule. Some people with unhealthy levels of body fat simply consume too many calories. Other people find themselves in an “over-fat” situation as the result of eating to few calories. The body has a survival or self-preservation mechanism that is triggered during times of low calorie intake. During times of restricted caloric intake, as in dieting, the body actually stores more fat. Because of this physiological fact, it is better for a person to spread their daily calories out over 5 or 6 small meals. Also adding to the over-fat issue is the fact that many of the foods they choose to eat are extremely high in fat.
Aerobic exercise ensures that the body will burn excess fat and helps a person maintain their lean body mass level. Aerobic activities are those activities which are low in intensity (meaning low heart rate) and can be done for long periods of time (30 minutes minimum). Examples of aerobic activities are walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, and nordic skiing.
If a person is serious about reducing their body fat level, they must adopt lifestyle choices that attack the fundamental problem of carrying excessive body fat. These lifestyle choices should include a regular routine of aerobic exercise and choosing to eat intelligently. Remember, NEVER SAY DIET.