You may have seen the popularity of fasting diets or calorie restriction approaches to weight loss in the news or on social media and have wondered about how effective these practices may be. If you have a goal to drop a significant amount of weight in a short period of time, the results that many claim to have from these dieting techniques may sound unbelievable. Though there is no doubt that severe calorie restriction can help you achieve dramatic weight loss, results vary by individual. Even still, these techniques aren’t always a healthy approach to managing weight.
Understanding Restrictive Eating
For many, calorie restriction or fasting occurs as long as an individual is actively trying to lose weight. In other words, this isn’t so much of a lifestyle as it is a crash diet. The general idea behind these practices is to drastically reduce the average or habitual daily caloric intake without sacrificing any essential nutrients or creating concerns of malnutrition. Fasting is a more severe form of caloric restriction, as a person many go several hours, days, weeks, or even a month without eating or by only the absolute minimum. However, many people attempt these dietary programs without the supervision of a medical professional. This unsupervised attempt to regulate weight becomes a serious health concern.
What Do Doctors Say About Crash Diets?
Though the immediate effects seem to indicate that extreme calorie restriction can lead to rapid weight loss, there are concerns that failing to make lifestyle changes or remaining ignorant about healthy eating doesn’t do anything for long-term weight success. In fact, some researchers believe that crash diets which foster rapid weight loss can actually encourage future weight gain. Some studies reveal that the processes involved with fad or crash diets can slow down metabolism and deprive the body of the nutrients it needs to maintain a strong immune system.
Because of the yo-yo dieting effect for those who continually seek to enroll or follow rapid weight loss plans, there is a concern that it can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks. Extreme calorie-cutting may lead to loss of heart muscles and damaged blood vessels. As people deny their body of crucial nutrients and go through the process of shedding pounds and putting them back on, blood vessels follow a vicious cycle of shrinking and growing. This can cause microtears that may increase the risk of atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular conditions. Following a restricted diet, without proper medical advice, can lead to shortness of breath, lightheadedness, heart palpitations, and extreme physical stress.
What Do Doctors Say About Calorie Restriction?
For weight loss purposes, calorie restriction can be effective. If you are wanting to lose about two pounds a week, then cutting your diet by about 500 to 750 calories a day should do the trick. However, that doesn’t account for the types of foods you use to fill up the rest of your daily caloric intake. It also doesn’t take into account the need to supplement a dieting plan with consistent activity to help burn through accumulated fat. It also doesn’t help those who are struggling with their weight and need to drop the pounds more quickly. For those individuals, there are health and dieting plans that can safely achieve those goals. When doctors recommend a caloric restriction, the dieting plan is often supplemented with medication to help regulate the body processes that are thrown off-kilter during an extreme diet.
As a medication, acarbose is commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes. However, as a dieting resource, the medication can help slow down the digestion of carbohydrates into the body. Carbs are generally an area of serious struggles for those following a restricted diet. While the body needs some carbs for fuel, much of the Western diet is full of highly processed and refined foods that provide a massive calorie dump into the system. Many of those calories come from white flour and starch foods, both of which contain mostly useless carbohydrates. As the carbs are processed through the body, excess carbs are converted into blood glucose. This causes a cycle of sugar spikes, crashes, binge eating, cravings, and over time, significant weight gain. When Acarbose is added to a dieting plan, it prevents an individual from experiencing blood sugar spikes after eating.
Understanding Healthy Forms of Caloric Restriction
There is no doubt that weight loss can be achieved by reducing daily food intake. However, as mentioned, it is important that the calories left off and the calories included promoting physical wellness and nutritional balance. Rather than taking a fad or crash diet approach to weight loss, passive caloric restriction is a positive way to get to your target weight. This process doesn’t require fanatic decision-making and allows an individual to still enjoy some of their favorite foods or drinks. Calorie counting can have a damaging effort on a person’s dieting motivation, especially when one cheats on their plan or suffers from a moment of weakness. In a passive approach to caloric restriction, the diet is streamlined to limit useless calories, focusing instead on lean meats, vegetables, and low glycemic fruits. Combined with a medication like acarbose, extra carbs and some of the more damaging diet elements of the meal or snack are suppressed and quickly eliminated from the body.
For the body to respond positively toward a passive caloric restriction plan, it is important to follow a consistent and rigorous exercise routine. Limiting calories can prevent additional weight from accumulating, but deep calorie cutting and the addition of exercise can burn through the fat that has been stored around the body. Part of the problem with crash or fad dieting is the loss of muscle mass while the fat cells are dropping away. This can make it harder to exercise, as it can leave an individual with weak muscles. Exercising while dropping weight preserves muscle mass and creates more body strength. Protein-rich meals and snacks are low calorie but filling, and they also benefit muscle development.
Understanding the Health Benefits of Caloric Restriction
From the perspective of those in research and healthcare, there are positive benefits to calorie restriction. There are suggestions that those who practice caloric restriction but not to the extent that it causes malnutrition will experience a change in basal metabolism. Slowing this rate down is through to help extend longevity and reduce the aging-related conditions associated with metabolism. At the very least, controlling dietary intake can have a positive effect on an individual’s health. For those who are overweight or obese, it can jumpstart the weight loss process. For those who have secondary conditions brought about by extreme obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressures, high cholesterol, and more, the severity of these conditions can often be reversed once an individual’s weight has returned to a healthy range. However, do not assume that all obesity-related concerns will disappear. It is never wise to stop taking a medication or following a doctor’s order simply because you feel better. Research shows that improvement in these conditions is possible when medication and diet bring weight under control.
Though you may be tempted to abandon your evening meal in favor of fasting or restricting your intake, it is important to always seek out a physician’s advice when starting a dieting program. There is a fine line between healthy restriction and damaging malnutrition.
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