Diets: Bad, Fair, Good

In This Article:

Page 1

Bad Diets

The diets listed here are unhealthy, especially for an athlete. These diets do not provide enough calories, nutrition, or the right kind of fuel. They strain body organs. Instead of improving health, they risk destroying it. The longer you are on these diets, the greater the risks become.

Low-Carb/High-Protein Diets
These diets, including the Atkins Diet, the Ketogenic Diet, the Zone Diet, and the Scarsdale Diet, are extremely popular because of the quick water-weight loss that occurs at the start of the diet. This water-weight loss is mistaken for fat loss, and it quickly returns as soon as the dieting stops. These diets make you look thin and trim because eating proteins is dehydrating, and causes large amounts of body water loss. Although bodybuilders might follow these diets to look more defined, they quickly gain the weight back after competition when they stop dieting. Aerobic athletes, dancers, and performance athletes cannot function effectively on these diets because protein and fats are a terrible source of performance fuel, and the body requires extra water and calories to break them down.

High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets cause a state of ketosis, chronic dehydration, low appetite, bad breath, and also nausea and depression. These diets are especially dangerous for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, and kidney problems. They can also cause gout. High-protein diets also cause your body to lose calcium, increasing your risk of fractures and osteoporosis. In athletes, the oversupply of protein puts a tremendous strain on your kidneys, which are already stressed by the breakdown products of intense exercise and occasional dehydration; combining these two types of stress on the body can be very dangerous. Also, by missing out on healthy fiber and vitamins found in fruits, vegetables, and grains, you are putting yourself at greater risk of heart and blood vessel problems, digestive problems, and many types of cancer. Women who go off the diet in search of more normal eating tend to immediately gain back weight as the water weight returns. Also, studies have shown that these diets do not cause weight and fat loss any quicker than other types do over the long term. So why take the health risks?

The Dangers of Low-Carb/High-Protein Diets

  • Increased risk of kidney disease
  • Bad breath
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Mood changes
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Poor endurance
  • Increased bone loss
  • Digestive problems
  • May cause gout
  • Nutritional deficiencies
"Fat-Burning" or "Metabolism Enhancing" Products
Stay away, stay away, stay away from these diets, including Metabalife, Herbalife, Hydroxycut, Xenedrine, Trim Spa, Stacker 2, and many other diets with the words thermo, lean, fat burner, etc. They contain ephedrine (also known as ephedra or ma huang), a dangerous, addictive drug that is not only illegal in high-level athletes, but also potentially deadly because it can increase incidence of strokes, seizures, and heart attacks. They also act as diuretics and cause water loss and dehydration leading to heatstroke. They are even more dangerous when combined with caffeine or other herbs. Usually, once you stop the drug or product, you gain back the weight. These dangerous chemicals can also be found in teas and drinks. Some professional athletes, and many other unfortunate dieters, have lost their lives because of these products. It is hoped that the FDA will ban ephedra from the market.

Avoid These Products at All Costs!

Ingredients and Words Example Products to Avoid
Ephedrine Metabalife
Ephedra Herbalife
Ma huang Hydroxycut
Thermo Xenedrine
Lean Trim Spa
Fat burner Stacker 2

"No-Fat" Diets
No-fat diets become a problem in the long run because fats are necessary for life. Fats contain vitamins and essential fatty acids, which keep your body running smoothly. Women who restrict fat in their diet have hormone imbalances, fertility problems, and dry hair and skin. Your body also needs healthy fats to prevent heart disease and cancer.

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From The Active Woman's Health and Fitness Handbook by Nadya Swedan. Copyright © 2003 by Nadya Swedan. Used by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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