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Potentially Dangerous Weight-Loss Diets

Choosing a diet plan depends on a number of individual needs, personal goals and how much time, effort and money a person is willing to put in. There is no one best way to lose weight as we are all individuals and we can do it different ways. Keep in mind that in the diet industry, anything goes. There are lots of weight-loss scams, ranging from homeopathic drops to sliming creams, while there are not too many no-exercise weight-loss therapies that have been actually proven effective. Much of the diet advice you encounter is misleading and some of it can be even downright dangerous. Therefore, beware of the following weight-loss wonders:

Weight-Loss Pills. Some over-the-counter weight-loss pills really do work but, unfortunately, only for a while. They usually contain stimulants which reduce your appetite and/or mild diuretics that cause you to eliminate fluids faster than normal. These “diet aids” can temporarily cause your weight to drop but they will not reduce your body fat. Therefore, once you stop taking them, your weight will bounce back to its previous level. However, some over-the-counter weight-loss pills can pose a real danger. These include synthetic as well as herbal formulas sold as dietary supplements, containing substances such as:

  • Ephedra or ephedrine alkaloids banned by the FDA.
  • DNP (2,4-dinitrophenol), which was used in the diet aids in the 1930s and has re-emerged recently, causing serious health issues.
  • Aristolochic acid – the FDA has issued warnings regarding consumption of aristolochic acid due to its carcinogenic and mutagenic effects.
  • Tiratricol, a potent thyroid hormone – as far back as 2000 the FDA issued warnings regarding its use in dietary supplements.
  • Sibutramine has been withdrawn from many markets due to its potential for increasing the risk of cardiovascular events.
  • Clenbuterol is a steroid suspected of damaging heart muscle.
  • Fenproporex is a stimulant drug on the list of substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
  • Antidepressants – prescription drugs that can cause severe mood swings.
  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is considered neither effective nor safe as a weight loss aid.

The side effects of pills, containing these ingredients, can range from the mild dizziness, increased urination and nausea to the severe conditions such as chest pain, heart attack, kidney and liver damage, seizures, stroke and even death. These weight-loss pills can be particularly dangerous for people with heart problems, high blood pressure and thyroid disease.

Very Low-Calorie Diets. Research confirms, what we all seem to know, that people who lose weight slowly over a reasonable amount of time are more likely to keep the weight off. A weight-loss diet with a daily intake of at least 1,200 calories works best for most people. Consuming less than 1.200 calories per day can deprive you of essential nutrients whereas diets with less than 1,000 calories a day should be attempted only under the doctor’s supervision. Studies also suggest that diets very low in fat may actually endanger your health. In fact, if you lose more than two pounds per week (one kilogram), you are almost certainly shedding muscle, not just losing fat. Therefore, make sure the diet you choose allows you enough calories to keep you from feeling overly hungry.

Fasting. Just like very low-calorie diets, fasting makes you lose muscle before you lose fat. Moreover, after a day or two of fasting, many dieters succumb to a high-calorie binge. Long-term fasting is extremely hazardous because it places a strain on vital organs and weakens your immune system.

Diuretics. The weight you lose with diuretics is merely the weight of water. Hence, the weight loss is only temporary and it does not include any body fat. Moreover, weight-loss diets based on the use of diuretics can promote dangerous dehydration and cause cardiac problems. Similarly, cleanses and detox plans, which cause you to lose weight from water and stool weight, should also be avoided.

Skin Patches, which supposedly contain an appetite suppressant and a metabolism booster, have not been proven safe or effective. They usually contain herbal drugs that can interfere with medications you take.

Electrical Muscle Stimulators are devices that have legitimate medical uses in physical therapy but they have no place in weight loss or body toning. You just cannot zap off the fat. When used incorrectly, electrical muscle stimulators can cause electrical shocks and burns.

Purging. This includes unhealthy practices, such as making yourself vomit or abusing laxatives, which not only pose serious health risks but can also be the first step in developing eating disorders.