A few weeks back, we went over some basic facts when it comes to losing weight, e.g., what’s ideal, what’s safe, and the fundamental science behind balancing your caloric intake. We learned that losing weight ultimately takes burning more calories than is consumed. Simply put, in order to lose weight, we need to eat less and move more on any given day. At this point, you might be saying to yourself, ‘OK, that’s fine, but how? Am I going to have to eat salads every day? Am I going to have to starve myself?’ The answer is no.
For this week, we’re going to look at some common types of diets out there and touch upon the theoretical basis’ behind those diets, as well as provide you some useful insights on the subject.
High protein-low carbohydrate diets
The theory behind this common dieting trend is that since carbohydrates get processed more readily and at a faster rate in the body than do proteins or fats, it gets metabolized quicker and also is more likely to be stored as fat. As it takes your body more time to process proteins and fats, these are considered more sustainable sources of energy. Thus, it makes people feel fuller for longer, less get stored as fat, and ultimately total calorie intake is reduced. Popular diets that center around this idea are the Atkins diet, which requires high-protein, low-carbohydrates, and a daily intake of ~2,000 calories; and the Ketogenic diet, which requires high-fat, low-carbohydrates, and limited protein. Disadvantages of such diets can be that they can contain high amounts of fat and cholesterol. Some experts also argue that prolonged consumption of high-protein diets may cause harm to kidney function, especially in older adults. Very low carbohydrate diets can also increase a person’s risk for ketosis, which may lead to nausea, fatigue, bad breath, and potentially more serious symptoms.
If you do decide to try out this type of diet, expect large amounts of weight loss during the first week or so, as the body uses up its carbohydrate reserves. During this period, the body will also excrete large amounts of water, adding to the weight loss. However, after this period, the body will begin to metabolize fats for energy, and as fats burn at a slower rate, weight loss will also slow down. It is important to keep in mind that a single gram of fat contains > twice the number of calories than in one gram of carb or protein. Therefore, it is important to monitor or even restrict your fat intake, especially if there is cardiovascular risk(s).
This is a good idea for those primarily concerned with cardiovascular health. Lowering the amount of saturated and trans fats help to lower cholesterol levels, therefore reducing cardiovascular risk. 10 grams of fat also contains about 90 calories, which again is double that of carbs or protein. Keep in mind, regardless of the diet followed, to lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than the body uses.
Some individuals may look to lose weight by replacing food items, or even a whole meal or two, with liquids. The idea behind this is that since liquids have a lot of volume, it will expand the stomach and curb your appetite. Also, depending the drink, liquids can contain little to no calories. This dieting method may be effective, but one must remember to not deprive the body of essential nutrients.
To learn more about diets, please visit Merck Manuals
EARTHWATER TIP ON DIETING: Replace some of your high-carb, high-fat foods with fruits, vegetables, and seafood.
Click HERE to find some nutritional data and downloadable posters on raw fruits, vegetables, and fish from the FDA.