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Diet Gimmicks, Diet Books and Weight Loss Products

Before you spend your money on the latest diet book or weight loss gimmick, remind yourself that the ONLY ways to lose weight (without surgery or prescription medications) are:

1) Take in fewer calories,
2) Burn more calories, or
3) BOTH.

ALL of the popular diet books and programs, regardless of the "scientific" explanations they give, recommend menus that give you 1500-1800 calories or less per day. For most people this means you will be taking in fewer calories. You can lose weight on ANY OF THEM, but ask yourself: Is this a way of eating I can follow for the rest of my life? (If not, you will regain the weight as soon as you go back to your old eating habits.) And, do the foods they tell me to eat supply all the nutrients my body needs? Most people can eliminate foods and food groups for a short time without any harm, but eventually you will create deficiencies if you do not eat a wide variety of foods, with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and other seeds. Don't believe that you can make up for what's missing with pills: a lousy diet with supplements is a lousy diet.

If you are thinking of trying a supplement or spa treatment that promises to take off pounds with no effort, use the old rule: "if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is."

- Products that remove water (diuretics) or empty your colon (laxatives or colon cleansers) can cause you to drop several pounds in a day or two, but this is strictly temporary and does not remove any fat. You do not need to "cleanse" or "remove toxic waste products" to lose weight or for any other reason. Prolonged use of diuretics or laxatives can be dangerous.

- Most products that claim to "rev up your metabolism" or "burn fat" contain stimulants. Many plants contain stimulants, and you will get the same effect from "natural" or herbal weight loss products that you get from drinking huge amounts of coffee or tea. Stimulants cause you to burn more calories and you will lose weight at first, but you need to take more and more as the days go by, and they can cause unpleasant, even dangerous side effects.

- There are no creams that will dissolve fat.

- Magnets placed over an acupuncture point don't cause weight loss.

- Eating collagen before you sleep does not make your body burn fat.

- Fat absorbers (chitin products) bind to small amounts of fat, but they cost about $35 to block the amount of fat in a Big Mac; in larger quantities they cause terrible gas and diarrhea.

- Pills or gimmicks that promise to get rid of cellulite are useless because cellulite doesn't exist. It's just plain fat.

- The only function of a body wrap is to make you sweat, and thus lose water. They claim you will lose 14 inches in 2 hours? So you lose 1/4" in the circumference of your legs through dehydration; they measure each leg, your waist, your hips, your arms, etc., total up the measurements and voila, you've lost 14 inches. You can get the same effect if you take your measurements before you go to sleep at night and after you wake up in the morning. Water loss is not fat loss. Here's their guarantee: "The inches will stay off unless you regain the weight." They fail to mention that OF COURSE you will regain the weight as soon as you take a drink of water.

Losing weight and keeping it off takes a permanent lifestyle change, involving both healthful eating and exercise. You'll find lots of help in the Nutrition section and the Fitness section, and in the free Good Food Book.

Checked 11/5/12

May 12th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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