Lost in the Land of Oz

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I don’t watch Dr. Oz very often because when I do I always end up pissed off.  If you follow the advice on the show, you’d be taking hundreds of pills a day, spending lots of money and still have no idea  what to eat and what not to eat. Every week there is a new “miracle” diet, “secret” fat burner, etc, etc—come on, really?  How many “new miracles” can there be?

I happened to catch it last week when he featured Biggest Loser trainer, Bob Harper, and his latest lose- weight-quick book, Jumpstart to Skinny.  It could be more aptly titled, The Auschwitz Diet.  His claim is that you can lose 20 pounds in three weeks on his diet by consuming just 800 calories per day.  I agree, you will lose weight on this diet—unfortunately most of the weight you lose will be water and lean muscle.  He claims you only need to exercise 15 minutes a day—you’d be hard pressed to have enough energy to get through your day let alone exercise for any more than that on such low calorie consumption.

The Nazis discovered that prisoners lived longer than they anticipated on just 800 calories per day.  This is because when deprived of enough nutrition, the body, being an efficient machine, slows the metabolism down to conserve energy.  It’s known as the Starvation Syndrome.  Since muscle uses a lot of calories, the body tries to conserve as much energy as possible by getting rid of the muscle.   The body cannibalizes the muscle to use it for energy and to reduce the energy requirements, since each pound of muscle burns 40-50 calories per day.

So now you have lost 20 pounds, what happens next?   You’ve now been set up for the Yo-Yo Dieting Syndrome.  Once you go off the diet, which you will, unless you have a severe eating disorder (if so, please seek medical/psychological help immediately), and go back to your normal eating habits, the weight is going to come back more quickly and easily then it went away.  If you lost 20 pounds according to the scale, approximately 6 pounds of what you lost is lean muscle.  You have now lowered your daily calorie requirements by almost 250 calories.  Now you’re wondering “What did I do wrong?  Why can’t I keep the weight off?”  It’s not your fault!  You have fallen prey and have become a victim of the $20 billion dollar per year diet industry.  Out of your frustration, you are now more susceptible to the next “Miracle Diet”  “Secret Fat Burner Pills” as touted by the charlatans like Dr. Oz to put more money in their pockets.

The real “Secret” “Miracle” to permanent, healthy weight loss is to get off the scale and away from the numbers that really don’t tell you very much.  The scale tells what the package weighs, not what’s in the package.  If you want to be toned, healthy and fit–concentrate on losing body fat.  It’s not very glamorous and it is hard to sensationalize, but for permanent fat loss, you need to eat a healthy, balanced diet, build and conserve muscle with strength training and burn calories by getting off your butt and moving more—there you have the real “miracle”, “secret” “fat burner”.   It’s time to take back your power and stop being a victim of the diet industry.

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