Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Do mainstream American diets actually work?

While there is certainly no “one size fits all” approach to weight loss, the truth of the matter is that most diets designed for the average American flat out suck. These days, one of the most common approaches to losing fat consists of 1. limiting fat intake and 2. severely restricting calorie intake. In other words, it is typical for Americans to consume as low as 500-1000 calories per day on a diet. Most people are under the impression that less calories = faster weight loss since consuming excess calories achieves the opposite effect. Even the diets seen on television commercials aren’t much better in terms of their effectiveness. The following will outline a few reasons common methods of weight loss are extremely dangerous.

Weight often melts off quickly in the early stages of weight loss, however there are three major problems with this approach, the first one being that almost everyone cannot keep the weight off in the long term. Who wants to bet we will see Kirstie Alley on yet another Jenny Craig commercial in the near future? Can you recall how many times people you know have attempted to lose weight and either still look the same or look like they did before undergoing a diet? It is no wonder that obesity rates in America continue to climb. The second problem is that most of the weight one loses from this type of diet is not fat; it’s actually muscle. This is referred to as Gluconeogenesis, which essentially means the body will slowly feed off of skeletal muscle and organs for energy. Do the math and you will find that when this happens, one’s body fat percentage will actually be higher than it was initially due to all the lean mass lost. Even performing cardio can result in this muscle-burning effect. If you are considering doing cardio in conjunction with your diet, be very carful what type of cardio you choose. Distance running, for instance, is known to produce a stress hormone called cortisol in high quantities, which is catabolic and will burn muscle when levels are too high. Take a good look at most long distance runners and you will see what I am talking about. The third reason most diets fail is because they stop working early. When you restrict calories to a great degree like most people do, the body goes into starvation mode and after a short period of time weight loss stalls completely. The human body is smarter than you think; humans have evolved over time to handle long periods with little to no food and you would die quickly if your body lacked this response. Your metabolism slows down drastically and your thyroid goes to crap when you diet like most Americans and the damage to your metabolism often remains permanent.

In conclusion, be extremely wary and do plenty of research before going about dieting. Although there are more diets out and about than ever, obesity in the United States has risen from 12% in 1991 to 34% in 2008 according to the CDC and AMA and is still on the rise, which in itself speaks volumes about today’s dieting approaches. There are very safe and effective ways to go about losing weight such as timed-carb dieting, recomposition diets, and ketogenic diets. However, attempting what most Americans do will always lead to failure.


  1. I have dieted this semester and acutally lost 12 pounds. one of that hardest parts is to eat healthier but that is a major factor. You dont have to cut down on eating just make sure to only eat when youre hungry and it is better to eat many small meals throughout the day then a couple large ones. The biggest factor though is eating healthy foods. Going to the gym doesn't hurt either.

  2. Kirstie Alley’s new weight loss products Organic Liaison. Claim to work by taking toxic out and rejuvenating the body. Organic Liaison is supposed to reduce food cravings. On the Organic Liaison website it states that the product is made of essential vitamins and minerals. No matter how good the essential vitamins and minerals you won’t lose weight without exercise

  3. Your diet is 80% of trying to lose weight and keeping it off. Like mentioned above, its more effective to eat more often but smaller quantities every three hours to keep you metabolism going. I actually lost 54 lbs three years ago, and while I put 8-10 lbs back on, it is primarily muscle tone. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and I have no problem eating healthy, with of course the occasional cheat meal.