Saturday, June 27, 2009

Feel Great Weight


Linda Bacon, PhD, dreads swimsuit season, but not because she has anything against the beach. Instead, the California-based nutritionist fears what the season brings: scores of otherwise health-conscious citizens who subject themselves to deprivation diets (like the Master Cleanse) or intense exercise regimens, often in blazing hot weather, to look slimmer in revealing clothes. Many unwittingly end up harming their health—and possibly even their hearts.

“Early June and January are the two times of year people do crazy, desperate things to get thin fast,” says Bacon, a nutrition professor at the City College of San Francisco and the author of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight. “They go on fasts, yo-yo diets, detox programs, and ‘cleanses’ without realizing that there are serious consequences to weight loss and nutrient restriction.”

That crash dieting doesn’t work and can be dangerous is a message that gets lost in the national clamor over rising rates of overweight and obesity. Thinking of trying a lemonade fast or cabbage soup diet? Here’s what to keep in mind if fitting into your skinny jeans or your Speedo is high on your summer agenda.

Crash diets may harm your heart
Cardiologist Isadore Rosenfeld, MD, a professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, in New York City, and author of the forthcoming Doctor of the Heart: A Life in Medicine, opposes crash diets (less than 1,200 calories a day) and detox plans like the Master Cleanse. The Master Cleanse involves consuming a mixture of water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper—and nothing else—for several days.

He says these very low-calorie regimens are based on the false theory that the body needs help eliminating waste.

Research suggests rapid weight loss can slow your metabolism, leading to future weight gain, and deprive your body of essential nutrients. What’s more, crash diets can weaken your immune system and increase your risk of dehydration, heart palpitations, and cardiac stress.

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