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Three Main Dangers of Dieting

By Clay McNight ; Updated July 18, 2017

When people go on diets, they often disconnect from natural body responses, such as hunger, shifting their focuses to caloric guidelines. This can lead to a life that revolves around dieting. Dieting can make food the enemy so that you feel guilty when you eat it. Even worse, restricting foods can cause cravings for them, which can lead to yo-yo dieting. Dieting can have many consequences including damaged health, increased risk of obesity and side effects resulting from nutritional deficiencies.

Damaged Health

Dieting, particularly when done in an extreme fashion, can put extra strain on the heart. In an April 2010 CNN Health article, Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld, professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City notes that crash dieting repeatedly can increase the risk of heart attack. In the same article, Linda Bacon, Ph.D. adds that long-term dieting can lead to heart muscle loss, noting that yo-yo dieting can damage your blood vessels as all the shrinking and growing can create micro tears that can set the stage for atherosclerosis and other types of heart disease.

Risk of Obesity

Dieting or restricting caloric intake for extended periods forces the body to adapt to the new famine-like conditions, which according to the F.E.A.S.T., or Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders, organization can cause dieters to become more overweight, lead to eating disorders, and increase the risk of obesity and diabetes for future generations. When the body receives information that food is scarce, this causes changes in gene expression, which can ultimately lead to excess storage of calories when they become more available again. The Eating Disorders Victoria website reports that 95 percent of those who go on diets regain the entirety of the weight lost, plus more, within two years.

Side Effects

When dieters cut out a large portion of the calories they normally consume, this can very easily lead to caloric and nutritional deficiencies, which can cause a host of side effects. Some of the more common ones can include headaches, muscle cramps, constipation, trouble sleeping and loss of bone density. Dieting can also greatly reduce the body's normal metabolic rate, which can result in tiredness and fatigue.

Safe Weight Loss

Although diets do work initially, the health consequences and after-effects can make them much less attractive. A much healthier and more permanent approach to slimming down includes gradual weight loss through a healthy and balanced diet, high in fruits and vegetables and low in sugars and trans fats, along with regular exercise -- even if modest. This approach has the added advantage of keeping the metabolism up, which causes the body to burn more calories, even while at rest.

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