Four Ways Your Diet May Be Killing You

4 Oct

How many times have you uttered these words: “My diet is killing me!”

Most likely you’re complaining about having to cut back on your favorite foods, or reducing calories, or whatever grueling behavior the diet demands.

Yet many diets can also “kill” you in a literal sense.  Not necessarily immediately and perhaps not entirely on their own, but they can cause physical changes in your body that may be harmful to your health.

Here are four top diet techniques, and the reasons why they may be killing you:

1.  Introducing hormones into your body 

How it works:

The HCG diet is a hot new entry to the market.  It uses HCG (human chrorionic gonadotropin), which is a hormone produce during pregnancy by the cells that form the placenta.  The hormone signals the hypothalamus to mobilize fat stores.  This works great for pregnant women, as it provides the nutrients the fetus needs.

The HCG diet doesn’t stop there, however.  It severely limits your caloric intake to 500 calories per day.  Weight loss is often rapid, but it seldom stays off, and it can come at a price.

Why it’s harmful: 

With only 500 calories, your body can’t support normal brain function.  You’ll start using stores of glycogen, protein, and some fat.  You may become irritable, perhaps lightheaded, and worst of all, you’ll be famished.  You could experience headaches, mood swings, hair loss, depression, and a whole lot more.

In addition, there is NO credible research that shows HCG injections are safe or effective for weight loss. Since hormones are present in the body in very, very small amounts, introducing additional hormones can easily upset the delicate hormone balance the body tries to maintain.  This can lead to many undesirable consequences over time.

2.  Limiting insulin in your body

How it works:

Low-carb diets, such as the Atkins Diet or The Zone, are based upon the notion that once insulin is reduced, weight loss will follow.   Insulin tells most cells to absorb nutrients and sugar from your blood, and it will tell your fat cells not to release any fat to be burned.

When you use a low-carb diet and limit insulin, the theory goes that there is nothing to tell your body to keep those fat cells in storage.  Once released, the body freely burns off the fat cells. 

To reduce insulin, the diets advocate reducing or eliminating carbohydrate intake, and switching to foods high in protein.

Why it’s harmful:

Some low-processed carb diets can be beneficial, if combined with the proper intake of fruits, whole grains and vegetables.  However, diets that restrict these essential nutrients and boost your intake of animal fat also increase your risk for heart disease and cancer.  It can also lead to low energy levels, bad breath and a loss of body protein, muscle, water and hair.

3.  Using artificial sweeteners

How it works:

It’s a simple formula:  Cut back on your sugars, and you’ll lose weight.  Sugar increases energy and provides a source of calories.  A big reason why obesity is on the rise is because many of our foods are loaded with carbohydrates and sugars.

Many diets use artificial sweeteners as a substitute for sugars.  You get the same sweet taste, minus the extra calories.  The sweeteners are sweeter than sugar, so it takes a much smaller quantity to produce the same level of sweetness. 

Diabetics may opt for the sweeteners because they can sweeten food without raising blood sugar levels.

Common artificial sweeteners are aspartame, saccharin, cyclamate and sucralose.  You’ll find these in consumer products such as Sweet’N Low®, NutraSweet®, Splenda® and others. 

Why it’s harmful:

There are a wide range of reasons why artificial sweeteners should be avoided.  Aspartame, for example, accounts for 70% of all complaints to the FDA.  It can lead to enzyme deficiency, disrupt neurotransmitter balance, and have adverse affects on a fetus if taken during pregnancy. 

Another sweetener, Splenda, is a chlorocarbon – a sugar molecule with 3 chorine molecules attached to it.  If it breaks down in the body, it can release chlorine, which has been shown to cause reduced growth rates, enlarged liver and kidneys, and cancer.

A highly disturbing fact is that there are laboratory studies showing animals fed with artificially sweetened foods tend to eat more, consume more calories, and gain more weight than animals fed glucose-sweetened foods – exactly opposite of what people using these products are trying to achieve!

4.  Using low-fat diet

How it works:

Many dietary guidelines recommend 20 to 35% percent of your daily calories come from fat.  The problem most people have is they consume a far greater percentage, ultimately gaining weight and increasing their chances of heart disease.

Almost any diet reduces your caloric intake.  Fats are the most energy dense, and contain the most calories.  Every gram of fat contains nine calories, where protein and carbohydrates each contain four calories per gram.

Logically, you reduce fat intake, and you’ll automatically cut calories. 

Why it’s harmful:

As is the case with most diets, a low-fat approach can cause significant problems if taken too far. 

Too little fat in your diet can lead to poor vitamin absorption, including the absorption of fat-soluble A, D, E and K. (Your body needs fat to utilize these vitamins.)

Deficiencies in essential fatty acids, which can only come from food, may cause depression and affect your mental health.  Colon, breast and prostate cancers have also been correlated to low intakes of essential fatty acids.

Oddly enough, low-fat diets can also cause a spike in cholesterol levels and heart disease.  If your body is low in fat, your body’s HDL (referred to as the ‘good’ cholesterol) dips.  Without HDL to transport the bad cholesterol from the blood, your chances of heart disease rise.    

So what’s a dieter to do?  Is there no way to lose weight without doing serious damage to your body?

Don’t despair – you can lose weight in a healthy manner.  It requires some changes and the correct strategies, but you will find the weight level you’re looking for if you do the following:

Discover your area(s) of weight loss resistance:  Many people can’t lose weight because their metabolism won’t let them.  With the right testing, you can discover the exact reasons your body may be preventing you from achieving your goal.

Eat right:  You don’t need to diet, but you do need to eat the right foods.  Switching from processed foods to whole foods is the first step to getting trim.

Exercise right, not to excess:  There’s no need to overdo it on the treadmill.  With the right functional exercise routine, a minimal amount of exercise can take you a long way.

These are a few tips to get your started on the path to the right weight.  Remember, it won’t be an easy trip, but you can make it a healthy one by avoiding many of these dietary shortcuts.

If you have questions or you want more information, please register for our free teleseminar “Is Your Diet Killing You?”  It will take place October 7 at 6:00 pm Central.  Hope you can make it!

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