Recent research has thrown up a surprising conclusion – dieting may make you GAIN weight! To find out what this is all about, and what you can do about it, read on.
Want to get fat? Try dieting! According to researchers, if you go on a diet, it’s most likely that you will end up weighing more than when you started the diet.
This is a big issue (pardon the pun) these days. Between 1980 and 2000, the percentage of obese Americans more than doubled, from 15 percent to 31 percent of the population, and similar patterns of obesity now affect the British population.
Estimates are that by 2020, over 20% of the British population will be obese. There are all sorts of theories as to what lies behind this dramatic increase in the average weight of the population, but two researchers in America looked at the issue, they came up with a startling finding.
Researchers Traci Mann and Janet Tomiyama, psychologists at UCLA, analyzed 31 long-term studies on dieting, and found that while you can initially lose 5 to 10 percent of your weight on any number of diets, the weight almost always comes back.Amazingly, this is not an isolated finding – in fact, several studies have found that dieting is actually a consistent predictor of future weight gain.
For example, one study found that those who participated in formal weight-loss programs gained significantly more weight over a two-year period than those who had not participated in a weight-loss program.
Apart from the negative implications of this cycle of repeated failure, evidence also suggests that repeatedly losing and gaining weight is linked to a number of serious diseases, including:
Damaged immune function
The researchers’ conclusion? “Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people.If you know anything about physiology and psychology this really isn’t surprising.
Firstly, low calorie diets put your body into a starvation mode. You are eating so little that the body has to take emergency action in order to protect itself – it thus slows down your metabolism to reflect the reduction in calories, eats into your muscles to feed itself, and begins storing fat rather than burning it.
This is natural self-preservation – the body always works for its own survival, in this case acting to ensure that the brain and vital organs get sufficient calories to continue functioning.
While this is happening, your mind is also under stress. Most diets are very restrictive, requiring immense sacrifice and will power to stick to them. When eventually you crack and give up, your body is burning fewer calories per day than when you started, so as soon as you return to your pre-diet eating patterns, you will gain even more weight.
What can you do?
So if dieting doesn’t work, what does? No surprises here – the researchers noted that “exercise may well be the key factor leading to sustained weight loss. Studies consistently find that people who reported the most exercise also had the most weight loss.”
So if you want to lose weight, the recipe is simple – exercise appropriately, and base your diet around lean protein, fresh fruit and vegetables, and whole grains.
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