There Are No "Miracle" Diets
> 6/24/2008 4:42:00 PM


Can't decide which of the innumerable diets, advertised or improvised, will best serve your general wellness and weight-loss needs? In order to simplify the choice, we can report with confidence that the vast majority of dietary plans have approximately the same degree of efficiency: little to none. In the short term, many dieters see modest rates of success, with average losses of 10 to 15 pounds. But within 1-5 years, almost all have regained the weight, with a majority actually eclipsing previous body-mass measurements.

Small victories are not to be discounted: modest losses, when maintained for extended periods, offer such health benefits as reducing or delaying the onset of certain forms of diabetes and high blood pressure. But for most individuals, diets offer very little in the way of demonstrable results or health benefits: the plans themselves, as well as the psychological complications surrounding them, can actually increase one's weight over time as well as heightening the likelihood of heart attack and other negative side-effects associated with weight gain.

Rapid, significant weight loss is universally unhealthy, leading to unbalanced blood sugar readings and other varied physical infirmities. The process of weight "cycling," or vacillating rapidly through periods of weight loss and gain, has been linked to a laundry list of cardiovascular complications: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, diabetes, and faulty immune system functions. So how can one effectively lose weight without incurring the reactionary wrath of the battered body?

Success rates, measured in a strict numerical sense, grow under a regimen complimented by the assistance of a professional specialist. Formal plans involving more frequent personal appointments and restrictive dietary guidelines proved more effective in longitudinal studies. In short, the lifestyle changes required by most weight-loss programs are not temporary fixes, and they must remain permanent. These measures do not stop at dietary revisions, as many variables beyond the over-consumption of food may lead to undesirable weight gain. More than just simple calorie or carbohydrate measurements, sleep patterns and excessive levels of stress may also contribute to an unbalanced body mass in two ways: first, excessive mental strain brought about by lifestyle stress and lack of sleep leads many to eat in binges. New research also suggests that the very hormones involved in facilitating the stress mechanism may encourage the buildup of excess fat deposits in different areas of the body.

The weight-loss industry brings in nearly $50 billion each year, and navigating the exhaustive world of related products, publications, and data sets can be extremely difficult. Interested parties can find surprisingly accurate weight-loss advice, free of charge, online. Community forums provide an expanded space in which to discuss weight-loss efforts and attest to their success rates based on personal experience rather than celebrity endorsements. For the rest of us, the solution is very simple: resist the dramatic promises of "weight-loss" products, use one's common sense in making food choices, and exercise regularly.

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