Any decision to lose weight, when weight needs to be lost, is a commendable one. Losing excess weight is an investment in our health that benefits our hearts, joints and self-esteem. Excess weight seems to accumulate so easily, it makes it grossly unfair that the extra poundage is so difficult to lose; and 10 pounds can be as hard to shed as 100 pounds. It is this very difficulty that tempts us to try extreme diets.
Extreme diets include, but are not limited to:
- A severe reduction in caloric intake such as the baby food diet allegedly used by the actress Jennifer Aniston. A healthy weight-loss diet should not fall below 1,200 calories daily for a female, or 1,800 calories daily for a male.
- Eating just one type of food, or an extremely limited variety of foods, such as the cabbage soup diet. Health problems could develop from nutritional deficiencies, depending on the length of time a dieter stays on such a diet.
- Using diet pills to control appetite.
The first two examples of extreme diets do pose certain health risks but, fortunately, they are usually followed for a short time only. The use of diet pills, however, poses a greater risk. There are a number of reasons why we should not use diet pills to lose weight, whether they are prescribed by a doctor or bought online, in-store or via a magazine.
1. Prescription diet pills are drugs and, like all drugs, users can become addicted.
2. Prescription diet pills will either suppress the appetite, or prevent the absorption of fats, depending on which type has been prescribed. They will not cause weight loss by themselves; dieters will still need to cut back on calories and do exercises to see results.
3. Prescription diet pills do not modify eating behavior; as soon as dieters stop taking them they usually revert to the bad eating habits that caused weight gain in the first place.
4. Like all medications, prescription diet pills can cause a host of unpleasant and debilitating side effects such as elevated blood pressure and heart rate, dizziness, headaches and anxieties.
5. Non-prescription diet pills do more harm than good, and their effectiveness is not proven. Liver damage has been linked to the use of Hydroxycut and it has been recalled by the FDA. The FDA has also warned consumers against using diet pills that contain ephedra because there have been extensive reports of negative and life-threatening side effects. Alli is the only non-prescription diet pill that has been approved by the FDA.
The answer to effective and lasting weight loss does not involve extreme diets. The best weight loss program combines two elements:
1. We should reduce calories to a safe minimum by eliminating junk foods and foods that provide no nutritional value, such as sugar.
2. We should engage in regular aerobic exercises such as walking, running or cycling to burn off excess fat. Weight-training is recommended for building muscles and greater caloric expenditure.