Apart from discussions of the environment, there is nowhere that junk science is more common than in issues surrounding weight loss – nutrition and diet, exercise and health topics in general.
Every month there’s a new claim, often given a coating of respectability by quoting the latest ‘study’. But if trained scientists have difficulty deciding what the truth is, you can bet the average laymen doesn’t know for sure.
So what’s a person who just wants to lose weight to do? Not everyone is a scientist, and very few have the time or inclination to read a dozen scientific studies. Well, there’s no perfect solution to that dilemma, but there are a few common sense guidelines that can go a long way toward avoiding common mistakes.
Greet with a skeptical eye any outsized claims. ‘Outsized’, here, means those that make rock certain claims to know what’s best in nutrition – especially when they contradict long-standing and obvious guidelines.
Studies may differ on details, but they all agree that a balanced diet of the basic essentials – carbohydrates, protein, etc – is best. All agree that moderate, regular age-appropriate exercise is an important factor in health.
Be wary of anyone making promises for safe, easy, quick results. It’s possible to achieve any one of these three, but never all three together. A wise weight loss program will definitely consider safety first. It will rarely be easy – technology has advanced, but not THAT much. And, it is almost never quick. Reducing excess body fat, losing weight and getting fit require a long-term commitment.
Treat with caution any program that tries the other side of the coin: to scare you into adopting it. Many will tout claims of the dangers of meat, for example. While consuming excess animal fat can increase health risks, what is ‘excess’ is still being examined.
Any claim that eating meat in moderation is harmful is based only on junk science. Adopting a strictly vegetarian diet for ethical reasons or matters of taste is a valid choice, but not one required by science.
In other words, avoid extremes.
There are 3-day diets that recommend eating nothing but fruit for three days, then other foods the rest of the week. Bad idea. Such a diet is necessarily unbalanced and will cause rollercoaster effects on the body.
There are diets recommending almost all protein and very few carbohydrates. Bad idea. The body needs a variety of materials from which to extract and synthesize what it needs. That means it benefits from a balance of protein (to produce amino acids), carbohydrates (for energy), fiber and other essential elements.
Anyone selling a miracle cure, effortless or instant results, while claiming to have a safe and reliable program is selling you air. Don’t buy.