Is Dieting Safe?

Countless people look to lose weight via making a change to their diet.  First of all, there is no inherent problem to using food to maintain a healthy weight.  In fact, a healthy diet is the most reliable way to keep in shape, closely followed by a consistent exercise plan.  But, there are many diets out there that tout weight loss success, when they are actually harmful to your health.  So, what is safe and what isn’t?  There are a lot of options out there, so follow these key rules to stick to safe dieting.

  1. Ask your doctor first.

You may feel that you are overweight.  After all, every magazine cover and internet ad features beautiful, thin people who look as though they have perfect bodies.  But, just because someone appears to be thinner than you are, doesn’t mean you’re at an unhealthy weight.  In fact, there is usually a range of 30-40 pounds that is considered healthy for a person of any given height.  For example, someone at 5’ 9” could consider anywhere between 128 and 168 pounds to be normal.  But, you may have certain reasons for weighing more or less than that.  In any case, the first step to a successful diet should be to communicate with your doctor to see if you are healthy or not.  She also might have some good tips for you, should you both decide it’s best to lose weight.

  1. Don’t Cut Whole Food Groups

Some people can successful be vegetarian or vegan, which cuts out meat, dairy, and all other animal products.  But, there are a lot of diets out there that advocate for completely removing starches or carbohydrates from the diet.  Some food plans even cut you down to one or two foods entirely, like the Cabbage Soup Diet.  It’s probably not necessary to explain why this is a bad idea – you need a variety of nutrients in your diet, or you could start having medical problems.  And, while you can sometimes replace one food group with something that can act it its place (like foregoing meat for plant-based proteins), many of these restricting diets are not sustainable.  It’s better to simply put focus on those food groups that are healthier, like vegetables and fruits, than to cut out the “unhealthy” ones.

  1. Don’t Go Low-Calorie

Your body needs a certain number of calories simply to function.  Some sources suggest that cutting calories to 1200 for women and 1500 for men is fairly safe, providing that, if you’re a woman, you’re not pregnant or breastfeeding.  However, it’s important to understand that when you do go on a low-calorie diet, it can cause your metabolism to slow down.  This is because your body may think it’s about to encounter starvation.  This is a leftover physiological function from hundreds of years ago, when a lower metabolism during starvation periods may have kept people alive.  Rather than opt for a low-calorie diet, you might find more success by switching the emphasized food groups in your diet.  Rather than eat grains the most, for example, eat vegetables more.

  1. Get Some Exercise

Some have suggested that weight loss success is 80% diet, 20% exercise.  If you feel you have pretty good food habits but you still have a little more fat than you’d like, rather than restrict yourself food-wise, maybe it’s time to address that other 20%.  Try doing 15-20 minutes every day, be it a brisk walk or a little yoga in the morning.  Adding even small changes to your lifestyle may help you lose more weight in the long run than a complete overhaul to your diet and exercise, which can often lead to a rebound.

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