This blog is for interesting pictures and articles about health and fitness that I find.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why Crash Diets Don't Work

Fat accumulates in our bodies usually from any of five reasons: (1) junk food, (2) too much sugar, (3) overeating, (4) too much fat in the diet, (5) not having enough exercise.--Or a combination of all five. Women's fat deposits appear in a variety of places: upper arms, abdomen, buttocks and thighs. Men's fat deposits are more centralized on the middle abdomen or "pot bellies". Whatever aerobic exercise you do, fat deposits come off in the reverse order that they arrived--last hired, first fired. There are no miracle fat burners. There is only aerobic exercise, resistance training, and sensible dieting. Adults over 35 naturally lose a half a pound of muscle tissue each year and gain a pound and a half of fat. Not only is weight gained, but it is shifted from muscle weight to fat weight. Women in particular lose sight of their muscle loss under the growing fat layer. In other words, the best way to lose fat and keep it off is by keeping our muscle tissues active. Muscle tissue speeds up our metabolism and keeps our bodies burning fat. This is done only through exercise. Many people don't have a proper notion of what real weight control is and what's the best--and in fact the only--healthy way to achieve it permanently. To most people, ideal body weight is how much you weigh on a scale, but this isn't really the best measure. The issue isn't so much what you weigh, but what percent of your weight is composed of fat. One pound of muscle tissue is active, denser, and smaller than one pound on inactive, less dense, larger fat tissue. So it's possible for two people who look about the same size to differ by ten pounds on a scale, yet the one who weights ten pounds more could actually have less body fat, and better muscle tone and shape. Every pound of lean muscle mass eats up 100 calories a day. A 35-year-old woman can weigh more than when she was 20, but can look slimmer and have better proportions. The secret is she lost fat and gained muscle. That muscle now burns more calories even at rest. Her metabolism is higher and she can eat more food without putting on weight. You'll understand why in a minute. What we're really saying here is that weight control is really fat control. Getting rid of body fat is not just for appearance. Excess body fat increases the risk of:

*Heart disease
*High blood pressure
*Low testosterone and progesterone levels
*....and many other ailments

When well nourished, your body burns hundreds of calories every day in the process such as the beating of your heart, digesting food, brain function, even breathing. However, if you don't eat enough food each day, your body will respond defensively. Recent studies have shown that within each of us is a unique "set-point" mechanism that regulates the amount of fat we carry. it's believed to be a kind of survival mechanism--a way of stocking up for times of famine and emergency. If the body perceives that it's starving--as it rightly does if we're always on a strict or extreme diet, or if we suddenly crash diet--the "set-point" is thought to kick into action causing the body to keep a tenacious grip on its fat supply. In order to replenish itself, the body will first cause you to crave high-calorie food such as sweets. If you successfully resist these cravings, the body's next line of defense will be to slow down the metabolism in order to conserve calories. In the face of food deprivation, the body holds on to its fat stores for dear life. In addition, because you're not getting enough calories, your body will use some of its muscle tissue for energy. Since muscle is an active tissue which burns calories even while you sleep, losing muscle further lowers your metabolism. This slowed metabolism helps explain why you can lose weight initially but soon reach a plateau, which many have experienced. Since it's extremely difficult to maintain a crash diet for very long, when you eventually return to your normal calorie intake, the weight that's regained comes back mostly as fat--not as muscle. The more often you use a low-calorie crash diet, the more fat you gain. Rapid dieting backfires. It's like using Kleenex with sneezing powder in it. The more you use it the worse it gets. After a crash diet, the calories you usually burned every day by having those muscles in your body are now going to fat as the muscle tissue has been destroyed. You have also aged your body, depending on the severity of the diet, by up to three years. The only way to beat fat is with regular exercise and wise nutrition. Any exercise burns a few calories, but aerobic exercise makes significant fat loss possible because it increases that metabolic rate so that you burn more calories and have more energy 24 hours a day. Do not try to lose more than two pounds per week, even with dieting and exercise. (Many experts say it's even better to aim for one pound a week.) Exercise also makes dieting easier because it reduces the appetite.