Monday, August 03, 2009

What About Those Quick Weight-Loss Diets?

By Dr. Stuart Kaplan

I do not recommend quick weight-loss schemes. And I never recommend extreme measures that encourage eating disorders or promote obsession. They are not good for your skin, and they are certainly not good for your overall health.

Like other fad diets, detox regimens promise a quick weight loss that is ultimately unsustainable. Most detox regimens urge dieters to limit themselves to water and raw fruits or vegetables. The problem with these detox diets is that they are so restrictive that they are ineffective for long-term use. Even though the average person doesn’t drink enough water or eat enough fruits and vegetables, any weight loss that does occur during these types of extreme diets is just water loss, and is usually temporary.

In general, human beings can lose only 2 pounds of body fat per week, maximum. If we lose more than that, we are only losing water and glycogen, which is only temporary. Losing, for example, 20 pounds in two weeks definitely qualifies as a extreme weight loss. You may think you are losing fat, and the scale may show you are lighter. But all you have lost is water, which is an essential part of our diet and body.

Drinking only syrup and lemon juice for two weeks is also an extreme measure. Worst of all, extreme diets like the Master Cleanse can cause serious side effects in vulnerable groups. Some diets even recommend laxatives, enemas, or colonic irrigation to speed up the detox process. But rapid cleansing, using these methods, changes the bacterial make-up of our digestive system. And bacteria are important for our GI system, which is also important for good skin

Detox dieters may report specific benefits, but none have been proven to be due to detoxification. Fewer headaches can be traced to other lifestyle changes such as reduction in alcohol and caffeine intake. Clearer skin and better health does result from improved hydration, decreased alcohol, quitting smoking, no junk food, and better diet. Weight loss in overweight people is always a good thing. It just needs to be done in a healthy and safe manner.

Some detox dieters talk of increased energy, or even a sense of euphoria. This is also seen in people who are fasting. This is actually a reaction to starvation, which probably evolved as a way to help a starving person evade threats, and have the energy to locate food during times of decreased food availability.

Healthy individuals may be able to endure even the strictest diet for a short while. The problem is that certain groups may suffer serious side effects from highly restrictive diets. Groups at risk include children and teenagers (who need the calories for their rapidly changing bodies) as well as pregnant or breastfeeding women, seniors, and people with heart disease, diabetes, or other chronic conditions. These people are especially vulnerable to intestinal and even cardiac problems caused by malnutrition. In addition, certain medications need to be taken with food.

The use of laxatives in detox diets is also considered risky, since laxative abuse is often associated with eating disorders. It is a myth that laxatives are useful for weight control, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. In fact, laxative abuse can cause severe dehydration, and damage to the heart or colon. Colonic irrigation, another component of some detox diets, can cause bowel perforation or infection, which can cause death.

Instead of a 10 day extreme diet, use those 10 days to begin a balanced diet filled with lots of fruits and vegetables, and then stick to that diet forever. The long term result is a healthy lifestyle AND beautiful skin.