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Dieting on Miracles: Quick-Fix Diet Solutions

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Americans shell out over $58 billion a year on weight loss products. With all this money being spent, are we any leaner?  NO. In fact 67% of the American population is overweight or obese and childhood obesity is on the rise, with one out of three kids considered overweight or obese. So what is the problem?

Other than the obvious diet pitfalls of overeating, junk food consumption and lack of exercise, there is another culprit — the never-ending quest to find a quick-fix solution to our health and fitness woes. We seek out and find diet programs and products that are marketed today as "miracles" that are basically gimmicks full of false promises, magic potions, and misleading propaganda. Most of these counter-productive systems result in yo-yo dieting and can be quite dangerous.

There is no quick fix for fat loss, optimal health, and longevity, but the good news is that there is a way. You don’t have to starve or deprive yourself to lose weight! The next time you decide to go on a weight-loss diet program, open our eyes and spot the quick-fix diets. Don't believe the hype; think twice before you waste your time, money, health, and sanity. No sensible diet program will ever compromise your physical or mental health for the sake of looking good.

Some commonly used formulas for weight loss:

  • Liquid diets
  • Low-calorie diets
  • High-protein, low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets
  • Low-protein, high-carbohydrate, no-fat diets
  • "One type of food" diets
  • Processed, packaged, and man-made food diets

Bottom line on quick-fix diet programs: restrictive and unbalanced diets don't work––they actually contribute to poor health, a slower metabolism, energy reduction, and weight gain.

#1 – Poor Health

Since most quick-fix diets restrict calories or do not allocate the proper nutrient ratio (protein, carbohydrates, and fat), and even completely eliminate important vitamins, minerals, and fiber, they put you at a nutritional risk. Another problem is that if you consume too much of any nutrient like protein, it can put undue stress on your kidneys and other internal organs. And if you consume excessive man-made food products, you are at risk of the perils of excessive amounts of additives and preservatives. All of these scenarios set the stage for a number of health problems during your diet, in the immediate future, and further down the line.

#2 – Deception and Dehydration

Many quick-fix diets promote low-carbohydrate intake, of which when you drop carbohydrates in your diet, you will lose weight. However, most of the weight lost in this manner consists only of glycogen and water. The problem with this type of weight loss is that you are deceived into believing that you are losing fat. In reality, once carbohydrate intake resumes (even the good carbs) and the water weight and glycogen are restored, you will mistakenly believe that you've regained the fat back.

Since the human body is over 60% water, this kind of diet and weight-loss result has a more serious consequence; it may lead to dehydration. Dehydration can cause fatigue, crankiness, stiff joints, headaches, nausea, aches, electrolyte imbalances, and much more. Severe dehydration can cause seizures, coma, or even death.

#3 – LBM (lean body mass) Reduction

Reduction in muscle mass is a common result of any type of low-calorie, low- carbohydrate, or starvation program. In fact, as muscle mass is lost, metabolism slows––the opposite of what the goal should be of any credible diet program. A daily intake of less than 1000 calories is considered starvation, and the human body will automatically try to salvage body fat just for survival.

#4 – Decrease in Energy

When calories are restricted, especially carbohydrates, the body's main source of energy is limited. This energy is needed for the body and the brain to function properly. Otherwise, you'll begin to feel tired, cranky, and mentally slow. You also will not have the energy you need to be active and exercise. Calories do so much for your body-–they provide energy, life, vitality, and so much more.

#5 – Body Fat increases

Any type of restrictive or unbalanced diet is a recipe for failure. The hype behind quick-fix diets is often unsubstantiated, based on gimmicks and full of false promises. They offer ways to lose weight fast with no regard for health and safety; the results will always be questionable. And after trying a quick-fix diet program, any attempt to resume normal, proper eating patterns will often lead you to regain more weight than you lost. Compounding the problem, regaining weight that you worked so hard to lose creates desperation, which often causes many to seek another quick fix. This process eventually leads to chronic yo-yo dieting, which is a vicious, unhealthy, frustrating, expensive, and dangerous cycle.

There is a rise in sound (proper) diet programs that will help you lose weight and gain health. There are now widely accepted, well-researched nutritional principles found in most well respected, leading diet programs, ones that are not marketed as miracles, that don’t offer quick-fix solutions, but truly provide hope, not hype!

Most fitness experts, nutritionists, diet gurus, and well-informed doctors agree that we should consume clean and wholesome foods and liquids to attain and maintain low body fat and vibrant health. We should eliminate junk food, fast food, fried food, and highly processed food. The real debate begins over how many calories we should consume each day and the nutrient ratio, which can be somewhat complicated and should be calculated based on your lean body mass, activity level, gender, age, goals and other variables.

The other debate exists over whether it is better to be a vegetarian or vegan, or not––each providing plusses and negatives to the health and wellness equation. Most also agree that fat loss is where it's at, not just weight loss, that real and lasting weight-loss results don't happen overnight, and getting fit is best accomplished when you include exercise. According to Web MD, "proven weight-management strategies include a balanced diet with reduced calories with a regular exercise regimen." The master key to low body fat, vibrant health, and longevity is not found in a miracle program or product (including diet pills and potions) but a lifestyle of the proper diet and exercise regimen!

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About Christine Lakatos

  • [Bob, I learned a long time ago not to argue with arrogance.]
    I’m sorry you think it’s arrogant to point out factual inaccuracy.

    Your use of the science in your comments was, and remains inaccurate. You can correct that by finding out about the science and making sure you understand what the terms actually mean.

    Referring to JAMA is all very well provided that you understand what you are quoting. You’ve demonstrated that that’s not the case.

    No-one argues that too much processed food is probably not a balanced diet, and of course eating fresh food paying attention to the composition is a sensible healthy strategy. That’s not in question.

    But by implying that nitrites and nitrates are potentially carcinogenic, pretending that excess protein places a major burden on the kidney and liver, you are displaying a poor understanding of the biochemistry. You appear to be exploiting the general poor level of understanding of human digestion, to use some science-sounding phrases to boost your message. You really don’t need to do that – the message is strong enough on its own.

    Such misunderstandings often arise when science is lifted into advertising, used by people without a sufficient background in the subject.

    All I said was that if you are going to make statements like that, you should make sure firstly that they are right, and secondly that you understand them.

    It’s not arrogant to point this out, but it is very defensive to try not to take notice of it.

  • Bob, I learned a long time ago not to argue with arrogance. But if you have time check out JAMA, August 28, 2008 issue, of which is just one place that proves my position about excessive consumption of packaged, processed foods.

    And how many people have you seen get down to 5% body fat with health and fitness levels off the charts, while dieting on processed foods and high amounts of meat?

  • People on meat-based diets not only get excessive protein, but also large amounts of hormones, fat, cholesterol, pesticides, antibiotics, and other harmful ingredients that place major burdens on the consumer’s kidneys, liver, and digestive system.

    [And as a retired bodybuilder, I have seen this first hand. ]

    What makes you think it places major burdens on the kidneys, liver and digestive system? Some kind of biochemical evidence? Or just someone having a bit of an upset stomach? We have to be careful not to mislead with claims like this. There’s no reason at all to think that a high protein diet is unhealthy. The gauchos of Argentina for example are perfectly healthy living very largely on a meat diet. It’s simply untrue to make such statements and they serve only to make people worried. That might sell products but it’s dishonest when the evidence doesn’t support it.

    [Nitrites and nitrates can develop into nitrosamines in the body, which can be carcinogenic.]
    Whatever the source of that information, they really ought to study some biology. It’s nonsense. A nitrite ion is simply a nitrogen atom attached to two oxygen atoms.. a nitrate ion has three oxygen atoms attached. These are the ions taken up by plants as nutrients (along with the ammonium ion). Again, this poorly informed chemistry is leading to jumps to scary messages. Nitrosamines can be developed from nitrites using industrial chemicals, for example dimethylamine, but the chances of that happening to people through their food is absolutely tiny. Unless you have evidence about high concentrations of nitrosamines in food you should stop spreading this scare stuff. If you do have evidence, you should be reporting it.

    [Sulfites include sulfur dioxide]
    That’s nonsense too. A sulfite is an ion consisting of one atom of sulphur and two of oxygen. A sulfite is the ion you get when you’ve dissolves the gas sulfur dioxide in water.

    The rest of your comment contain other misunderstandings. When quoting science, it’s as well to actually understand what it means.

    Even your comment about calories is not accurate. When you compare the calorific values of foodstuffs, you are not describing how many calories are actually available once that food is digested. It’s just a crude comparison. For example, if you look at the calorific value of cellulose, you’ll find it’s enormous. To a ruminant, the calorific value is useful energy, to a human it’s useless because we can’t metabolise cellulose. It all depends on the digestive process and the breakdown products as to what constitutes useful foodstuffs.

    When using scientific information to sell products, it’s not enough to cut and paste. In this case, the information copied is inaccurate and misleading. Even your comment about preservatives is laced with the scary “is potentially toxic”. So is almost everything. But preservatives are not automatically dangerous.

    It really is important to understand the science before quoting pieces of it. Maybe any food products claiming to use science in their advertising ought to carry a misinformation warning urging the customer to check it up.

  • BOB: A few points…

    Excessive Protein:
    People on meat-based diets not only get excessive protein, but also large amounts of hormones, fat, cholesterol, pesticides, antibiotics, and other harmful ingredients that place major burdens on the consumer’s kidneys, liver, and digestive system.

    And as a retired bodybuilder, I have seen this first hand.

    As far as additives and preservatives: all you have to do is pick one and you will find a correlation of health issues. And I used the word EXCESSIVE…

    1. Artificial Food Colors
    Some of these coloring agents are allergenic and, even worse, some have carcinogenic properties. Some artificial food colors are suspected of contributing to hyperactivity, allergies, asthma, learning problems, and concentration difficulties in children and adults. Specific foods to avoid include colored drinks, color-coated candies, gummy and chewy candies, and many colored cereals. Be especially aware of additives when using vending machines.

    2. Nitrites and Nitrates
    Nitrites and nitrates can develop into nitrosamines in the body, which can be carcinogenic. They are often found in preserved meats, including bacon, hot dogs, bologna, and salami.

    3. Sulfites
    Sulfites include sulfur dioxide in fruits, sulfites in grapes and wine, and metabisulfites in other foods, and they sometimes cause allergic reactions. or headaches, nausea, and diarrhea. Anyone suffering from allergies or asthma should minimize or avoid sulfited foods.

    4. Sugar
    Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are a frequent additditve, and its overuse can lead to numerous health issues including elevated blood sugar, hypoglycemia, hyperactivity, yeast problems (candida), excessive food cravings, and increased triglycerides (blood fats). Sugar and sweeteners also contribute empty calories toward obesity, dental cavities, and diabetes.

    5. Artificial Sweeteners
    Saccharin has been linked with cancer in laboratory animals, but its widespread use is on the decline. Still, other synthetic sweeteners like Aspartame, and acesulfame-K are widely used in soft drinks, candies, chewing gum and a variety of other products. Two research studies found aspartame to have caused brain tumors in lab animals, and it should be avoided by pregnant women and children under seven. Another sweetener, sucralose, sold under the brand name Splenda, has had very little long term research.

    6. Preservatives
    Preservatives such as BHA, BHT and EDTA are used in small quantities in grain products like cereal, soup bases, and other foods containing oil to prevent rancidity. These are potentially toxic to the liver and kidneys, and they’ve been known to cause allergic reactions and neurotoxic effects. Children can be especially sensitive to preservatives and they may cause behavioral changes and hyperactivity. Interestingly, BHT is prohibited as a food additive in the UK.

    7. Artificial Flavors
    Artificial flavors represent the largest number of food additives. Most of the food products with artificial flavor additives are highly processed. Both adults and children may exhibit allergic reactions and other health issues from these chemical flavorings.

    8. Olestra
    Olestra is a synthesized fat substitute first used in potato chips. It’s a non-absorbable oil polymer, thus it’s not metabolized by the body. Certain consumers have reported digestive and other problems from Olestra consumption, including diarrhea and abdominal cramping.

    9. Salt
    Salt or sodium chloride is used by our bodies to maintain proper electrical conductivity within the cells and a variety of other essential functions. But eating too much salt can lead to fluid retention and increased blood pressure.

    10. Food packaging
    PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a known carcinogen, and it’s often used as plastic food wrap. Many grocery stores seal meats and other foods in PVC wrap; a particularly dangerous practice for warm or fatty foods, both of which help release the PVC into the food.

    Calories do so much for your body-–they provide energy, life, vitality, and so much more.

    OK, here I could of added..providing you are choosing your calories carefully. In its context, it makes sense that you need calories to live and have energy and that a no or low calorie diet is not the answer to losing weight or getting fit.

    Calories are a measure of how much potential energy food contains. One calorie is the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius.

    Different food types contain different levels of energy and as a result varying amounts of calories. One gram of carbohydrate has four calories as does one gram of protein. One gram of fat has more than twice this amount at nine calories. Eating too many calories is unhealthy because when you cannot use all the energy stored in the food you eat, it is eventually stored as fat.
    However, eating fewer calories than your your body needs to function effectively, is just as damaging, if not more so.

  • Good article Christine.

    There are so many food Woo products around that it’s easy for people to be conned. There seems to be two main approaches to the marketing of this stuff:

    (1) Tell people that their diet is deficient in some way, creating anxiety and hence a readiness to buy supplements.

    (2) Tell them there are toxins accumulating and they need some kind of detox.

    With the first one, any deficiency in a western diet is likely to be pretty small. Vitamin deficiency for example is rare. As you say, the problem is the surplus. But unless a specific dietary deficiency is biochemically identified, any blanket swallowing of vitamins risks an excess and some, such as the B and E vitamins, can be toxic.

    With the second question, this notion of detox, is perhaps the biggest scam of them all. There’s no evidence that toxins accumulate in the body, because the liver and kidneys are incredibly efficient at getting rid of them. Once people are conned into thinking they need detox, they start messing around with their digestion and it’s too important to be played with as a hobby.

    Many people don’t understand the business with free radicals and oxidation, and don’t realise that free radicals are responsible for the effectiveness of the immune response in breaking down bacterial cell walls. They are also involved in nerve transmission. And we get more than enough compensating antioxidants in fresh vegetables and fruit in a normal diet. The body also has its own very efficient antioxidants such as the enzymes superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxisase.

    The nutritionist industry carries a lot of the responsibility for the confusion about diet, and much of it is exploited to grow a market. It’s refreshing to see an article cutting through the nonsense.

    I would pick you up on a couple of things though:
    [if you consume too much of any nutrient like protein, it can put undue stress on your kidneys and other internal organs.]
    The body doesn’t store excess protein, it just metabolises it by deamination and excretes it. It doesn’t put undue stress on the kidneys and other organs.

    [And if you consume excessive man-made food products, you are at risk of the perils of excessive amounts of additives and preservatives. All of these scenarios set the stage for a number of health problems during your diet, in the immediate future, and further down the line.]

    Risks? Perils? Problems? Without being specific about the additives, you can’t know this. It’s generalising a fear. I agree that additives are a concern, but we need to be precise about these things or we’re playing into the hands of the detox merchants.

    [Calories do so much for your body-–they provide energy, life, vitality, and so much more. ]

    Calories don’t do anything. It’s a measure of energy, like a mile is a measure of distance. Miles don’t do anything either.

    But thanks for the article. No-one needs detox, or supplements, or special diets. They just need to eat a balanced diet. You get more “supplements” from a common potato than a pill!

  • Cindy: I am so proud. tough to do, wish you the best and if you need any support you know where to find me. LOL

    Just know that when you quit smoking, you will gain some water weight; so drink more water and eventually you will de-bloat.

  • It’s meant to be amusing, Christine. We just quit smoking 3 weeks ago. So, we do what we can. Which means looking at the scale and doing whatever it is we have to do to make sure it doesn’t move up more than a few pounds as it easily could when one quits smoking.

    We’ve seen 4 movies and a play in the last week. 🙂

  • Cindy: I am assuming this is a joke? lol

  • I am on the non-smoker’s diet. This consists of trying to figure out the lowest calorie objects to put in your mouth all day long. Some of the best ones are: Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup (extra noodles, obviously), fat free/sugar free frozen confections and on a trial basis were 100 calorie packs of hostess coffee cakes. Except yesterday I ate the whole box of those. So, scratch them. Also, it is necessary to eat a modest dinner breakfast and lunch and you may also have snacks at any given moment (If you are diligently looking on the internet for the best gym to join. If you have stopped looking, no snacks are allowed, so you had best keep looking).

    If you eat too much on this diet, it helps to go out and see one or two movies a day on your non-working days. I have found that movies can distract one from the temptation to overeat much better than exercise.

  • Nice to meet you Irene! Right on about the carbs: fruits and veggies are the best and a few whole grains are goo too.

  • Irene Wagner

    I’ve been wanting to say, “hello” to you for a while, Christine!

    Yes, making sensible lifestyle changes for the long term is the way to go.
    I fell off the “Low Carb” wagon about oh, three years ago. I had ten I wanted to get rid of. It never came back, and I think the reason it didn’t was the fact that it was a LOW carb diet, not a NO carb diet, and it got me into the habit of getting quality carbs into my system: the fruits and vegetables very few Westerners get enough of.