So many people in our country are overweight that the problem has been described as an epidemic. Our modern way of living– spending lots of time driving and sitting in front of computers– coupled with the abundance of highly caloric, cheap food, has produced a nation of fatties. The problem shows no sign of abating, and individuals, rather than facing the fact that they need to discipline themselves to eat healthily and exercise, are choosing fad diets to combat the problem. A popular approach has been the liquid diet, in which dieters limit themselves to wacky concoctions such as maple syrup, cayenne, and lemon juice to “burn” fat. Other dieters waste money and compromise their health buying liquid meal replacements in an effort to drop the pounds. Let’s examine why these measures are futile.
Weight loss does occur on a liquid diet. The dieter, desperate to believe that she’s finally found the secret to losing weight, attributes her weight loss to some magical combination of ingredients. Or she believes the marketing propaganda distributed by the manufacturer of the liquid diet, which says that the product promotes weight loss because it affects hormones or metabolism, or some other nonsense. The fact is, she loses weight because she has restricted calories. When she begins the liquid diet, she’s gung-ho and has made a promise to herself that this time, she really will lose weight. So she faithfully follows the guidelines to the diet, forgoing all real food in favor of the meal replacement. Since she’s probably consuming about half the calories she needs to be healthy, she does lose some fat and water weight.
Unfortunately for her, there’s much more involved in sustained weight loss than downing chalky, pre-packaged shakes for a week or so. The liquid diets don’t provide the nutrients her body needs for long-term health and stamina. Soon she’ll feel weak and light-headed because she’s simply not taking in enough calories, nor is she ingesting the complex mix of nutrients that we all need to be healthy.
Our dieter hasn’t learned anything she needs to know to be healthy and fit and to maintain an optimum weight throughout her life. She hasn’t learned how to choose a moderate, well balanced menu that includes lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and plenty of produce. She hasn’t learned to recognize and satiate hunger with reasonably sized portions of nutritious foods. She hasn’t learned that she can occasionally indulge in treats because they taste good and are satisfying. Instead she’s taking the all-or-nothing approach which simply is not how our bodies were designed to function.
The dieter who loses weight on a liquid diet will soon miss the satisfying crunch of raw vegetables, the delightfully creamy texture of real cheese, the smoky smell of a hamburger right off the grill, and the chewiness of freshly baked bread. It won’t be long before the liquid diet will be abandoned. Sadly, since the dieter is now desperate for taste and texture, and her body is craving fiber and nutrients, she will begin to eat with a vengeance, and stuff herself with far more calories than she needs. The weight will immediately pile back on, and the dieter will be back where she started, feeling even worse about herself and her lack of willpower.
Liquid diets, like any fad diet promising quick results, do not work. They deprive the body of nutrients it needs, they foster unhealthy and unrealistic attitudes about food, and they ultimately make the problem worse. Anyone seeking to lose weight should recognize that it will take a life long commitment to healthy eating and exercising.
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