Watch out for downright dangerous dieting tricks

Being in the fitness industry for years, I have heard my fair share of weird and dangerous dieting tricks. Some of them shocking, some of them eyebrow raising and some of them just plain disturbing.

Some people go to the edge to lose weight. Don’t be one of them.

Some people’s desire to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time is so great they’re willing to try anything – sometimes to the point of putting their health and even their lives at risk. The end result is all they care about and they don’t give much thought to possible consequences. Yes, while extreme dieting methods usually work (for a short, short time and then back fire big time), they just simply aren’t safe or recommended.

Anyone reading this article should take it as a warning – don’t believe the lie that thin people are more valuable and therefore subject your body to dangerous diets. Health should be your focus, not getting skinny to impress others. Whatever you try in your weight loss efforts, be sure to avoid these methods.

The human body is made up of trillions of cells. Each cell requires a constant supply of energy to do its job. Ongoing replenishment of protein and healthy fats are needed to build new cells and repair damaged ones. Prolonged, unregulated fasting or drastically reducing the number of calories you consume for a long period of time will lead to the death of fat cells, but it will also kill off muscle and organ cells as well.

The drugs in cigarettes are highly addictive and cause a host of negative health effects including lung cancer, heart problems and stroke. Nicotine also works to suppress your appetite and reduce hunger. When you do eat, your body can’t absorb all the nutrients out of food and you’ll lose weight. Quit the habit and the pounds will quickly pile on – or that’s what you’ve heard. This is incredibly false. If you’re willing to make lifestyle changes and eat healthily, you can obtain and maintain a healthy weight no matter what.

Normally used to feed sick or injured people, some weight-loss fanatics are paying big bucks to undergo a medical procedure to have a feeding tube inserted up their nose and down to their stomach. For 10 days they eat nothing, while a formula that’s rich in protein and low in carbs is delivered to their stomach. The total calories equal about 800 a day, well below recommended amounts.

Even worse than a feeding tube, some people are so desperate to lose weight they’re willing to have a plastic patch sewn to their tongue. The stitches are so painful they can’t eat solid foods and a liquid diet restricts calories to fewer than 1,000 a day.

Over-the-counter diet pills may offer small rewards by suppressing the appetite. Prescription weight-loss medication may have more of an effect by reducing absorption of nutrients or changing your brain’s view of food. But be wary of diet pills sold online and advertised as ‘all natural’. Most of these pills contain amphetamine, a stimulant drug that prevents sleep and causes anxiety, nausea, irritability, and possibly heart problems and even death.

Another highly dangerous diet trend involves cotton balls. Dieters eat cotton balls soaked in water or juice to trick their stomach into thinking they’ve eaten something. Besides being a starvation technique, cotton balls aren’t meant to be eaten and can cause painful blockages that may burst, infecting your body with food and feces.

Extreme dieting leads to hair loss, weak immune system, loss of muscle, loose skin, fatigue, insomnia, dry skin, anemia, brittle nails, irritability, and eventually organ failure.

Quick weight loss through extreme dieting is not worth the short- and possible long-term ill health effects. None of the disturbing diets listed above are healthy, nor do they provide long lasting weight loss. As soon as you can bear the pain no more, the weight creeps back on and your body continues to suffer.

Eat smart, exercise regularly, and never give dangerous fad diets a second thought. You can do it!

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and the owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.

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