Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dieting within reason...


As most of you know, I consistently preach the value of a low-calorie lifestyle. That being said, when a friend recently informed me that he had joined a weight loss plan that curbed his eating to between 600 and 800 calories per day, I got extremely worried. For starters, he only had to shed about 30 or so pounds - which in my opinion, was not a significant enough weight loss to require this type of drastic change. Second, he was following the diet plan without help from anyone in the medical community. Folks, do NOT try this at home! These types of weight loss methods should only be done under the supervision of a doctor. Fortunately, my friend ditched the diet after a few weeks in starvation mode and has since embraced a more reasonable and healthy weight loss plan. But not everyone has been so lucky. Take Samantha Clowe, a 34-year-old British woman who died this fall from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. Clowe had been following a diet plan called LighterLife and was consuming a mere 530 calories a day. An inquest determined that Clowe most likely died from cardiac arrhythmia and raised the possibility that her death "may be related to her low calorie diet and weight loss."
So what's the deal with these very low calorie diets? After all, they can be effective and have been used to help obese and severely obese patients lose weight for more than two decades. They use a process called ketosis to prompt the body to burn stored fat for energy while being fed anywhere from 500 to 800 calories a day. Patients may eat or drink only manufactured food, shakes, and snack bars especially created for and sold through specific programs. The products are designed to supply the patient with adequate nutrition without offering excess calories.
However, diets of less than 800 calories can lead to numerous complications including heart arrhythmias, which could lead to death. Because of this risk, experts say the low-calorie program must include the involvement of a medical professional and incorporate lifestyle changes, exercise, and enough calories in order to be effective and safe for the patient. Extreme dieters are also at risk of dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, low blood pressure and high uric acid, which could lead to gout or kidney stones. Also, losing weight quickly could lead to gallstones and thinning hair because dieters are getting the minimum amount of nutrition, which can affect hair and bone density.
So here is my suggestion. If you really want to lose weight, either seek the advice and guidance of a medical professional for a drastic change or make more reasonable choices to adjust to an overall healthy lifestyle. Eat right, maintain a food diary and regularly exercise. That's the best way to shed - and keep off - those pesky pounds!

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