Read How Commercial Slimming Programs Are Destroying Your Health
At any given point of time, millions of people all over the world are desperately trying to lose weight. Most of them are woefully ignorant about the basic knowledge of the mechanism of weight gain and weight loss, the science of nutrition, exercise and obesity management. Plus these people are desperate and are willing to do anything, except the obvious, to be able to lose weight. The problem with these people is that they are constantly looking for some new ‘miracle therapy’ which they hope will slim them down without having to make any special effort on their own. If anyone sells them any such ‘miracle therapy’, they are only too willing to make fools of themselves, shell out huge sums of money, bear with the side effects of the therapy and promptly regain what little weight they might have lost in the bargain and some more. Then these perennial optimists start searching for some new therapy to waste their money, time and health on.
It never strikes them that they might just as easily eat sensibly and exercise regularly to achieve a life time of excellent slimming, fitness and health!
It is no wonder then, that there is never any dearth of commercial, gimmick programs looking to loot the gullible, hapless obese or overweight people. You will find even the medical world at times involved on both sides of the game, the exploiters as well as the exploited! The slimming market is always flooded with such dangerous, unscientific therapies.
All such programs aim at starving you under one pretext or another. You may be given food packs or the so called nutritional supplements, or magic medicines.
You may be given massages, baths, may even be put under some fancy machines. Belts may be wrapped around you, gels may be applied at different places, or currents may be passed through your muscles to make them shiver and twitch. But what really does lower weight in any of these therapies is a very low calorie diet. There is no other way these systems can induce any weight loss, because weight loss requires calorie deficit, which means eating fewer calories than you burn in a day. None of the above mentioned so called slimming techniques can make you burn any calories. They are just plain money-spinning gimmicks. These programs simply have to give you something like a product or a service for which they can charge exorbitant fees. You wouldn’t pay them anything if they gave you only a starvation based diet plan.
Diets below 800 Calories are labeled as Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCD). Such diets are recognized as ‘at best dangerous even under the best of medical supervision’. Even diets below 1400 or 1500 Calories are impractical for sustained weight loss, far less for lifetime slimming.
Let us see what happens on starvation.
1. Starvation forces the body to lose glycogen (a carbohydrate stored in our liver and muscles), water, and proteins (from the connective tissue, muscles and organs). What you lose on the scale is largely contributed by the above three and only a little by fat. The result is you become wrinkled, shrivelled and dehydrated, without really looking appreciably slimmer.
2. You suffer from multiple nutritional deficiencies (of calories, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals). You become weak, wrinkled, pale, anaemic and unfit and generally feel unwell. The initial false sense of weight loss encourages you to carry on starvation for some more time causing more deficiencies. Apart from anaemia, there will be a loss of body proteins (this causes wrinkling and sagging of skin, which is a constant feature of starvation based slimming programs) and deficiency of most micronutrients. Calcium loss is common. It can lead to dental caries, bone pains, pain in the neck and back and even osteoporosis.
Constipation, fissures and haemorrhoids (or piles) are also common.
Hyperacidity, severe digestive tract disorders including ulcers, colitis and mal-absorption syndromes are common side effects of sustained starvation. There will be colic (pain) in the abdomen, inability to digest and absorb food properly, gases and loose motions. The digestive tract disorders are often not totally curable and can become a life time disability
3. Your body lowers its metabolic rate. This means it burns fewer calories everyday than it did before. This leads to faster regain of weight when you start eating normal food. Plus your body regains all the lost glycogen, water and proteins. All three are essential components of your body. Thus there is more weight gain. You are inevitably fatter than before.
Such yo-yo slimming is potentially more dangerous than staying obese, for one more reason. Each time you gain weight, your blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol and blood sugar may go up. They do not necessarily come down to the normal levels each time you lose some weight. Thus these levels can steadily keep going up as you keep gaining and losing weight repeatedly. Your risk of developing coronary heart disease, cerebral strokes (attacks of paralysis), and diabetes increase greatly.
Let us briefly review some of the rank unscientific therapies that are doing the rounds of the slimming market as of now.
Homeopathic and ayurvedic medicines: These medicines are automatically accepted to be safe; hence they are used as a front for selling very low calorie diets. There is no medicine in the world that can slim you down safely by raising your metabolic rate while you hog to your heart’s content and never ever exercise! All such programs prescribe a very low calorie diet and also may give you meal replacement food packs. Medicines have no role to play in the slimming treatment. This treatment is as plain rubbish as any other treatment mentioned in this article.
Bogus Slimming Machines: Many heavily advertised slimming programs use various so-called ‘slimming machines’ employing high frequency, low voltage electric current to vibrate your muscles (these really are physiotherapy machines) or ultrasound waves or heat waves which are claimed to dissolve your fat effortlessly.
If slimming was that simple, obesity would be eradicated from the face of the civilised world!
In reality, all these programs force a starvation based diet on you, which really causes any temporary weight loss, if at all you stay long enough on the program!
Huge fees are charged for such rank unscientific programs. This therapy is being exploited by the leading money spinning brands of the slimming industry. But people still keep falling for such rubbish simply because they are looking to slim down effortlessly!
Unfortunately doctors are also jumping on to the bandwagon to make hay while the sun shines! Any doctor using these gimmicks is welcome to prove them publicly!
The herbal shakes and food packs: Anything labelled herbal seems to automatically claim immunity from dangerous side effects. Nothing could be further from the truth! Thousands of gullible people have risked their health and even lives by subscribing to these kinds of therapies in many countries.
Such food packs are to be consumed instead of a meal. If replacing one meal doesn’t work for you, more meals are replaced! This means you are simply subscribing to planned starvation! And paying for it too!
Any food pack given for the purpose of slimming can be extremely hazardous as any dangerous drug can be added to it. Thyroid hormones, diuretcs (drugs that increase urinary output), laxatives (medicines evacuating bowels) and amphetamines (dangerous drugs thought to suppress appetite, they have numerous side effects) have been known to be added in such packs.
The starvation inflicted by these food packs is dangerous enough, the added drugs are even more so!
The side effects are usually grave if you stay on with the treatment. People have even died taking these kinds of treatments. Luckily most people quit soon and survive with minimum damage.
The biggest gimmick with these programs is that no where do they mention in writing that you are to consume these packs instead of meals. But the marketing person will invariably recommend replacement of one or more meals with them. In addition to the food packs, you are also coaxed into buying a supply of capsules or tablets of so called cell activators. Such things do not exist!
Not only the so called nutritional supplements but also the sales people claiming knowledge of nutrition and also claiming to have themselves slimmed down on such products are equally bogus. These people pursue you vigorously till you fall prey to their well tutored marketing technique.
Ask such people to give you in writing that their product is to be taken instead of a regular meal and that they will be responsible to pay for your medical treatment and damages if you fall ill due to their product. They will vanish for ever from your presence!
The basic theme behind the whole plot is starvation. Most people buy these programs for one or two months at an exorbitant cost and then quit when they realize the futility and also suffer from the side effects of the inevitable starvation on the program. They regain what little weight they may have lost very quickly. The marketing person happily moves on to new victims.
Fad Diets: Many gyms selling weight loss programs keep offering some new ‘revolutionary’ diet every year. They promise you the earth with this great new diet and you fall for the empty promise forgetting that you had failed to slim down on every other magic diet sold to you previously. In reality all fad diets are nothing but low calorie diets gift wrapped in a new package! Name of the diet changes, result doesn’t!
Low Carb Diets: These are very popular diets. Many, including doctors, believe that carbohydrate foods are principally responsible for weight gain. It’s a totally rubbish belief.
Carbohydrates are as important nutrients of our body as are proteins or fats. You can read the role of carbohydrates in our nutrition in the article ‘Basics Of Nutrition’ on this website.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy in our diet. They also have a ‘protein sparing’ function. Unless we eat enough carbohydrates to get adequate fuel energy, the proteins in our diet will not be ‘spared’ to carry out their primary functions and they will be used up by the body as an energy fuel. Because of this, all starvation based diets also inflict protein deficiency upon you irrespective of whether you are consuming adequate amounts of proteins according to your ‘recommended dietary allowance’ (R.D.A.), or taking a so-called protein supplement food pack.
Thus any low carbohydrate diet necessarily becomes a ‘low calorie – low protein’ diet, causing protein – calorie malnutrition.
Atkins’ Diet: This diet was published in the book Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution in 1972. It was severely criticized by experts, but was followed by sizable number of people then. It has been resurrected again and is causing substantial damage to the obese community today.
This diet advocates a ‘high fat, low carbohydrate diet’. On this diet you can eat any amount of meat, poultry, eggs, butter, cheese etc. fatty foods; while cereals, pulses and other carbohydrate rich foods are to be avoided. This diet is always labelled as ‘high protein, low carbohydrate’ diet and never as ‘high fat’ diet, which it really is!
This diet is extremely dangerous. There is a great danger of a steep climb in the dieter’s serum triglycerides, total cholesterol, L.D.L. and V.L.D.L. cholesterol levels which would greatly increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
Nutritionists and the American Medical Association have severely and repeatedly criticized the Atkins’ Diet ever since it was published. Dr. Frederick Stare, a former chairman of Harvard’s department of nutrition, has been quoted as saying that the Atkins’ program “borders on malpractice” and amounts to “planned malnutrition.” The ‘Medical Letter’ has pronounced it “unbalanced, unsound, and unsafe.” (Ref. ‘Eat Better, Live Better’, a book published by the highly respectable Reader’s Digest). This book has been referred to with the sole purpose of making you more aware of the dangers of Atkins’ diet, which is again being exploited by unscrupulous obesity therapists in India.
High protein, high fat diets can often turn out high calorie and will lead to weight gain, constipation, piles, raised cholesterol and triglycerides, hypertension, heart disease, strokes, kidney stone and kidney disease and loss of minerals from your bones, leading to osteoporosis. They also increase risk of many cancers including colonic cancer.
Diets sold under the name of GM or detox asking you to eat daily varying combinations of fruits and vegetables or juices all week and nothing else, also amount to planned starvation.
Liquid diets: Liquids-only-diets are extremely hazardous. They share all the side effects of starvation mentioned above. Plus formation of gall stones is a common side effect.
A late twenties IT professional was put on a liquid diet by some Ayurvedic practitioner pretending to slim her on his medicines. In reality, he was actually looking to starve her under the guise of his medicines, little knowing how dangerous the liquid diets were.
A month on such diet, she suddenly developed unbearable abdominal pain and started rolling on the floor and screaming.
Hospitalised and investigated, she turned out to have gall bladder full of stones. Her pancreas, the vital gland which produces majority of digestive enzymes and also insulin, was injured.
The poor girl is in and out of hospitals all the time, her health totally ruined. She could develop pancreatitis and or diabetes at any point of time. The former is an acute disease which can kill and the latter, a life long liability.
And the utterly ignorant Ayurvedic practitioner escapes unpunished, free to loot more people!
Surgical Procedures: Liposuction, lipectomy, wiring of jaws, surgical removal of the digestive and absorptive areas of the digestive tract are various fancy surgical procedures which the common man would be best served to ignore. Both their safety and effectiveness are questionable. The grave ill effects of such treatments may be amongst the best kept secrets of the medical world!