Trendy diets may lead to increased risks

By Claire Lee
  • Published : Jun 5, 2014 - 20:25
  • Updated : Jun 5, 2014 - 20:25

Lee Jae-hwan
For those hoping to lose weight, the general recommended caloric intake to lose weight ranges between 1200 to 1500 calories depending on the individual’s basal metabolic rate, with the aim of reducing 300 calories per day (a low-calorie diet), along with regular cardio exercises (at least one hour of fast-paced walking, cycling or swimming for at least five days a week) to expend 200-300 calories each day. This results in a loss of 300 calories from dieting, together with a loss of 300 calories from exercise, totaling a loss of 600 calories per day. This will result in a loss of 1-1.5 kg of weight each fortnight, resulting in an ideal loss of approximately 8 percent of the body weight in 3-12 months.

Problems with rapid weight loss

When one starts consuming only 400-500 calories per day to lose significant body weight in a short period of time, i.e. going on a very-low-calorie diet, this results in rapid weight loss initially, but in the long term (after one year) there is no significant difference. Rapid weight loss can cause various medical problems and can be a health threat. Such a diet will not allow the person to do regular exercise, preventing muscle formation. Instead, it leads to muscle loss, which can result in a yo-yo syndrome with rapid weight gain instead.

An appropriate diet for weight loss:

1. Do not skip meals

If you do not eat regularly, the body will tend to protect itself by preserving a higher proportion of food that enters your stomach.

2. Eat slowly and enjoy your food

This will promote digestion and will help you feel satiety with a smaller portion. Increase the intake of vegetables to make you feel full, and to reduce caloric intake.

3. Eat low-calorie foods (fruits and vegetables) first to fill up, and then eat higher-calorie foods.

4. Avoid eating before bed, and limit alcohol intake.

Alcohol is very high in calories (7 calories per kg), which means that two to three shots of soju will be equivalent in energy content to a bowl of rice.

5. Exercising is a must! Dieting without exercise will bring about the yo-yo syndrome.

― Aim to lose 0.5 to 1 kg of weight per week, with 5-10 percent body weight loss in six months.

Problems with localized diet

The main reason for losing weight is to prevent and treat chronic diseases (diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and cancer), to recover and to maintain health. A fit and slim figure will also boost confidence and quality of life. To prevent and treat diseases, and maintain weight loss, it is important to have a good diet and regular cardio exercises.

However, people who have not developed exercise habits may undergo local weight loss (for example, extra weight in the abdomen or arms) at an excessive cost and risk.

Some people take injections that supposedly dissolve fat in the thighs and arms, or undergo liposuction or use other equipment. This may lead to a small amount of fat loss in that area, but overall it does not make any difference to your fitness or risk of disease. Medications or side effects from procedures have risks, and may even cause death in some cases. A localized diet can lead to an unbalanced body shape as it does not lead to the balanced body figure change that is achieved through exercise.

Systematic cardio exercise not only leads to weight loss, but also can help to recover and maintain health, produce a balanced body figure, and prevent aging.

Healthy dietary habits and regular exercise is the best way to maintain your health, and can result in both a healthy life and beauty that corresponds to the amount of effort you put in.

Why trendy diets can only be trends

There are three main reasons why trendy diets can only be trends.

Firstly, they promise rapid results. Promotions such as “lose 10 kg in a month” are enough to attract the attention of those who want rapid weight loss.

Secondly, they are somewhat effective. For the first few days of your diet, you do lose weight. The problem is that you will not maintain that weight loss.

Thirdly, they are easy and simple. A good example is the “one food diet,” for which you are advised to eat specific foods only. Others include methods such as limiting sugars, making a list of foods that you can’t eat, and making you eat a less-varied and simpler diet.

Exercise is a must for dieting

Exercise is compulsory to lose weight. Of all exercises, cardio is most important. These include cycling, swimming and running. You should ideally exercise 3-5 times a week, each session lasting between 30 and 60 minutes. If you are obese, reduce the exercise intensity by 50-60 percent and exercise 6-7 times a week to lose weight.

Abdominal fat (belly fat) is a result of fat accumulation in subcutaneous levels and in the internal abdomen. Abdominal fat is rapidly lost with consistent exercise and a healthy diet. A higher amount of abdominal fat leads to a higher risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

There is no easy and fast way to successfully lose weight. There are also no short cuts. Even if you succeed in losing weight in a short time, without appropriate exercise and dieting, you will inevitably return to your pre-diet weight due to side effects and yo-yo syndrome.

By Lee Jae-hwan

The author is a doctor in the Department of Health Promotion Center at Samsung Medical Center and a professor at Sungkyunkwan University’s School of Medicine. ― Ed.