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Health Center: Why Dieting Leads to Weight Gain
If diets were successful, the diet book and magazine industry would have run itself out of business by now. Think about it…..diets are generally extreme, severely restrictive, boring, and sometimes dangerous. Why would anyone want to follow one for very long?
Consider the Atkins Diet. It is extreme in its very low carb content. It is severely restrictive in cutting out fruits, breads, cereals, rice, pasta, potatoes and most other carbs. It is also restrictive in limiting one’s ability to eat at a friend’s house or restaurant. It is boring in its repetition and lack of variety, which makes it unsustainable for the majority of people. The Atkins diet has been connected with increased risk of kidney stones, gout, and other medical problems.
Severe diets often result in rapid weight loss, which leads to a feeling of success. Over time, however, the diet feels limiting and tedious, and the dieter eventually gives up the diet. After a period of deprivation, the most common response is to eat those formerly prohibited foods with abandon. This in itself can result in weight gain. The other important thing is that many restrictive diets are so low in calories (under 1200 for women or under 1500 for men) that the body slows metabolism in response to feeling starved. This makes is easier to gain weight because the body’s needs remain lowered for a while after the person gives up the diet. Combine slowed metabolism with overeating and you have a recipe for weight gain. Sometimes the gain is even more than what was originally lost.
The sad thing is, after being failed by an extreme diet, most people blame themselves for the failure rather than the diet. Some will keep looking for another diet or will keep trying the same diet over and over, getting more discouraged and feeling more like a failure with each attempt. Imagine if, after a diet failed, we blamed the diet rather than ourselves!
So if dieting doesn’t work, what is the answer?
Adopting healthy, lifelong habits will result in your body achieving a healthy weight that is right for you. Eating every 3-5 hours throughout the day will keep metabolism high, and will prevent extreme hunger which can result in overeating.