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Updated 12 October 2015

Why are we forever chasing quick fix diets?

Weight loss and good health are absolutely achievable, but as with all good things, it takes time. Something we don't seem to have the patience for.

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We live in a world of instant gratification. There is an ad on TV at the moment, extolling the virtues of a new model of a well-known car.

At one stage we are shown the silhouette of an actor skipping faster and faster while the word “Faster” flashes on the screen to emphasise how fast the vehicle can travel. This ad has presumably been designed to mesh with current attention spans and expectations.

Everything must happen instantaneously, including weight loss ad healing of medical conditions. No one wants to spend time reducing their kilojoule intake or doing boring, repetitive exercises to lose weight.

We want to drink a potion, gorge on meat and cream, sit in a sauna or have a doctor rearrange our fat depots for us and get a result in double quick time.

This is why unscrupulous individuals and companies make so much money selling quick-fix fad diets and/or diet pills (“herbal, safe, fast, no side-effects, melt off fat just by reading the label!”), staying one step ahead of the authorities who come lumbering along and close them down when people become ill or start to die.

This is also why the high-fat, high-protein diets are so immensely popular.

Why high-fat, high-protein diets don't work

The one thing these diets do before they start making you feel ill because you develop nausea, constipation, gall stones, etc, is that they promote rapid weightloss.

So within a short while most followers of the good Professor Noakes or the elegant Dr Dukan or the original Dr Atkins will lose an appreciable amount of weight.

Some of the weight loss is due to the diuretic effect exerted by such diets and represents water that is excreted.

Another factor is the nausea caused by ingesting such large quantities of fat and the ketosis most people develop.

Some of the weight loss is due to using body fat and protein as sources of fuel because carbs have been removed from such diets.

While dieters will lose fat, they also start losing muscle protein, which is usually not what slimmers desire. So the trick fuelling the massive high-protein, high-fat, zero-carb diet fad, is rapid initial weightloss. Nothing is designed to motivate modern people more than losing fat fast.

Read: The correct way to diet and exercise for weight loss

And the general aftermath, when weightloss slows down or the dieters reach a point of no return and decide that if they have to look one more steak smothered in cream or trio of fried eggs in the eye at 06:00 in the morning they will lose their marbles instead of their weight, what happens then?

Well, my one friend who came to stay suddenly grabbed a slice of rye bread and announced that she “Was going crazy on this Paleo Diet!”

Most people just revert to their normal, high-energy, unbalanced diets and regain the weight they lost at such cost.

These dieters will not have learned anything about healthy eating, except that they have failed once more, which plays havoc with their psyches.

It’s time we all woke up and saw through the smoke and mirrors created by ad agencies and our own expectations.

Do it the right way

If you are overweight or suffer from IBSor metabolic syndromeor type 2 diabetes, it is going to take time and effort on your part to lose that weight, get your insulin levels stabilised or re-establish normal bowel movements.

You are actually going to have to put in some time and effort to understand your condition and how you can cure it in a sustainable way with a targeted, balanced diet that may consist of all the food groups (proteins, fats and carbohydrates (gasp!)) and the use of sensible exercise to stimulate your metabolism.

It can be done, but you need the help of well trained experts such as dietitians (not a snake oil saleswoman touting the latest diet book or ‘slim-Panda-pills’!) and your own dedication to achieve normal weight and good health.

Until scientists design a ‘Fatmatron’ (a machine that I imagine will be something akin to the ‘Orgasmatron’ that featured in the 1973 movie Sleeper), the onus is on us to be realistic and put some thought and effort into achieving weightloss and good health.

Forget the food fads and select a balanced, sustainable diet instead to get value for your time and money.

Read more:

To carb or not to carb- that's the question on everyone's lips
Is your low-carb diet causing constipation?
Warning about the low-carb diet

 
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