fats and the human body

Americans are probably the most diet obsessed group of individuals who are so very willing to try the latest diet on the pages of their popular magazines, TV talk shows and even those on display on their local bookshop shelves. It is no wonder therefore that instead of people following the holistic recommendation of combining a reduction in caloric intake and engaging in physical activities, these latest diets seem to be more appealing and promises a “quick fix” to their weight problems. These diets, most of which have over the years come and gone, are known in the weight loss world as "fad diets."

Fat diet is a term used to generally describe any dieting plan that claims to have found the secret or method to create successful and irreversible, long-term weight loss through virtually dieting alone. Most of these diets focus on macro-nutrient manipulations coupled with low calorie intakes to produce their weight loss programs.

Most fad diets are popular because while they promise quick weight loss results, they are equally easy to implement, and generally tend to make a lot of attractive however unsubstantiated claims about how their users will feel and look through the use of their diet program. Also, one noteworthy characteristic that runs through most of these programs is that they do not promote sound weight loss ideas and avoid teaching the dieters how to manage weight without their diet program.

The truth of the matter remains that fad diets are generally not sustainable and provide no realistic long-term healthy weight loss benefits, and are nutritionally inadequate. They are simply what they are, "quick fixes", and will always remain just that. The most important fact to take note of about most fad diets is that they cannot be used successfully for more than a period of about two weeks or a maximum of a month – they are generally not sustainable.

Fad diets come in various forms. For quite a long time now they have been promoted through the consumption of specific foods (e.g. the Grapefruit diet); specific food combinations (e.g. the Zone); and eating at specific time schedules (e.g. the Rotation Diet).

Other fad diets promote the elimination of certain foods (e.g. the Carbohydrate Addicts Diet); while some even recommend diets based on an individual’s blood type (e.g. Eat Right for Your Type); and still, there are others that are now being promoted by Celebrities and even named after well-known places associated with fame and thinness. And the list of varieties keeps going on…

Almost all of these diets limit the amount of key macro-nutrients required by the body to function at its optimum capacity. The decrease in caloric intake is achieved through various ways, for instance through eliminating carbohydrates or adding grapefruit to one’s meal. Fad diets essentially lower your calorie intake to somewhere below 1,000 per day as against the minimum requirement of 1,200 calories per day.

With all the various claims by these diets, it still beats one’s imagination why the problem of obesity is still taking on a growing and worrisome endemic status? Is there not any among these whole lot of fad diets that at least can prove effective in weight loss?

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The truth remains that employing and following through with most of these fad diets can actually cause weight loss – however not in a healthy manner and definitely not for the long the long-term. The caveat rest mostly on how long an individual can keep depriving the body of necessary nutrients it needs to function optimally because of trying to lose weight? To put it more succinctly, most conventional fad diet plan focus more on the scale weight rather than on the actual loss of unwanted body fat. How you’d say?

In general, diets – including fad diets – work by relying on reduction of calorie intake resulting in a caloric deficit which allows for weight loss. People lose weight when their energy (calorie) intake is less than their energy expenditure.

When you start using a fad diet, the following is essentially what happens. Regardless of the fad diet in question, most aim towards reducing or avoiding fats in general. Soon after implementing this diet, you body reacts to this sudden nutrient deprivation by initially losing water from the body cells. This is often what is shown as an apparent loss of weight which in actuality is due to dehydration resulting from water loss in body cells.

Further down the line with continued implementation of the diet plan, the body soon starts making use of its muscle mass as a source of energy to keep up with it energy demand since it is not getting enough from the food intake. Even at this stage, the body still attempts to preserve its stored body fat and doesn’t start making use of it since there is no additional fat coming into the system.

In about three to four weeks of using such a diet, most of the muscle mass will have been burnt and with no other alternative available, the body starts making use of its stored body fat. However due to the fact that it takes the body more time and energy to burn fat for energy fuel than it does with muscles, the body starts getting weaker, lazier and unable to perform it usual day-to-day functions optimally.

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Eventually, about 99.9 of people break the diet because this form of deprivation is actually unsustainable and they start eating normal again. However, this is where it often becomes perplexing because after the deprivation of essential macro-nutrients, the body now has to start restructuring its depleted body cells and muscle mass and usually in the process store most of the food intake as excess fat. During this process of the body rebuilding itself, the dieter ends up gaining back the “assumed” weight they lost and more often than not adding even more.

From the foregone, it becomes obvious that the assumed weight loss experienced by most dieters who use fad diets is not due to the actual loss of unwanted body fat but rather the loss of water from body cells and a depletion of the body’s muscle mass. A depletion of your lean body mass generally results in a lowered metabolism and therefore an increase in fat storage. So, fad diets are more of a scale based weight loss than actual body fat loss.

While most fad diets may promise you that either eating a mountain of grapefruit or eating at a particular time of the day will take away the excess body fat, the foundation of a successful weight loss program however remains a healthy, calorie-controlled diet combined with regular exercise.

Fad diets are generally not healthy for long-term weight loss, you therefore need to adopt a new and permanent lifestyle of healthy eating habits and increased physical activity and you will be well rewarded for it. The optimal diet for weight loss should while reducing overall caloric intake, promote physical activity.