Understanding How Diets Work

Before a person sets out on starting a diet in an attempt to lose weight through this method, it can first of all be highly beneficial to gain an understanding of how diets work so that they can maximize their efforts in that direction. Getting into this subject in great detail can become a full research project in itself and occupy many pages of notes, which is much more than the average dieter is willing to undertake.

We understand this, so to help in that area while still being informative but without requiring so much reading to be done, we have created this concise look at diets and how and why they work to bring about a reduction in a person's body weight.

Diet Basics 101

diet basicsThe basic precepts of any weight loss diet is that in order for a reduction in body mass to occur, there must be a restriction in the amount of energy being taken into the body. This is so that there is less energy available for the body to use (obtained from the consumption of food and beverages) in ratio to the amount of energy that he body burns for normal functioning each day.

We know this measurement of energy simply as calories and this is actually a good way to understand what is going on when we overeat or eat too many of the wrong foods as opposed to eating less. Calories are simply the name we give to units of energy that are used by the body to produce work, via the body's muscles. In order for the muscles to be able to perform work, they need energy as fuel. This comes from glucose that is dissolved in the blood stream and transported to the areas that are working and demand the fuel.

The Body in Balance

body in balanceWhen things are in balance, we ideally will be consuming sufficient food each day to provide all the energy that our muscles need to work for that day. When we think of muscles working, it is normal to create a picture of a person working out in a gym, lifting weights or running or engaging in some form of physical exercise.

This is one way that our bodies can burn a lot of energy in a relatively short space of time. But even when we are sitting completely still, our bodies are still burning fuel to keep all the essential bodily functions operational.

The heart is a muscle and its regular beating keeps the blood flowing around our bodies. This action requires fuel just like any other muscle. Digestion and elimination also uses muscle power to operate, as do all processes that go on inside our bodies that we are largely unaware of.

So we need to consume sufficient numbers of calories to ensure all normal functions are able to operate, while having enough in reserve to allow us to exercise if we want to.

The Body Out of Balance

Unfortunately, we often consume more calories than our bodies are able to use up and this excess gets stored as fat. This is not so much of a problem when it is only in small amounts and we don't make a habit of overeating frequently, as our bodies are capable of redressing the balance over time if stored fat levels are relatively low.

Problems arise when we habitually overeat and create a net gain of fat each day over a long period of time. The results are visible when we stand on the bathroom scales as we can see for ourselves that we have "put on weight". It is also visible in the fact that our clothes get tighter until we are forced to buy them in increasingly larger sizes.

If nothing is done to correct the problem, then we will eventually become obese. When this happens, we could find ourselves looking down the barrel of a loaded gun in respect of the kinds of diseases that we are more susceptible to. These include type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension that can result in stroke or heart attack and some forms of cancer.

However, there is more to this than a simple case of calories in versus calories out.

Belly Fat

belly fatThe level of the problem will differ depending on the kind of foods being ingested in conjunction with their calorie rating per pound. Foods that contain high levels of refined sugars such as sucrose and fructose, most commonly added to foods in the form of high fructose corn syrup can potentially bring with them more dangerous outcomes.

This is because when the body processes these sugars, the fat stored as a direct result is known as visceral fat, or adipose fat.

This type of fat is stored mainly in the torso and is packed around major organs including the heart. In small quantities, visceral fat performs a useful function in protecting the major organs from damage by acting as a cushioning substance. It is when levels of this fat become excessive that the risk of health problems increases greatly.

The excess fat mass that accumulates ion this part of the body forces the abdomen muscles to distend outwards giving the common appearance of a "beer belly" or "pot belly." It is this visual clue to the problem brewing inside the person that indicates trouble on the horizon unless something is done to correct it.

Diet Solutions

A marked change in the diet is usually imperative to reverse this situation and the focus should be on cutting out all foods that contain high levels of refined sugar. A secondary feature of such a diet will also restrict certain carbohydrate rich foods.

Most notably those that are derived from refined white flour. These are things like white bread, pasta, pastry, cakes, cookies etc that are known as high Glycemic carbohydrates. These are carbs that are placed high on the Glycemic Index (GI) because they release their sugars rapidly into the blood stream causing a rush of glucose, followed by a rapid drop in energy levels.

It is these foods most responsible for the accumulation of visceral fat, so by cutting them out of the diet, a reduction in levels of that fat can be initiated. It is also important to look at what is being drunk. Soda and other sweetened drinks can contain very high levels of these refined sugars and in many cases are major contributors to large amounts of visceral fat being stored in the body.

There are many different types of diet program available that works in this way to limit the number of calories while providing the body with healthy foods that are low in high GI carbohydrates while being balanced between low GI carbs, protein and healthy fat and dietary fiber, which is essential for the healthy elimination of waste.

You can opt for a diet sheet that you can get from books or from making a personal consultation with a nutritionist. Or you can choose a propriety diet program such as Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem where meals are provided for you. You can learn more about this particular method of dieting in this article providing Nutrisystem reviews.

Exercise Solutions

As this is an article focused on diet, it may seem strange to include a paragraph on exercise, but it is actually an important consideration when investigating solutions. Vigorous exercise such as weight and resistance training, aerobic exercise and sports can greatly reduce fat storage levels in the body when conjoined with a healthy diet strategy.

This is because as mentioned earlier, the muscles of the body will burn a lot of energy when they are put to heavy work.

The muscles in the legs, being among the largest in the body demand the most fuel to perform high levels of work, so running for prolonged periods is highly beneficial as is playing sports such as soccer, hockey, basketball or any sport that involves a lot of constant running around a field.

The end result or goal is to reduce levels of stored fat in the body through a combination of sensible diet and exercise to a point where the correct weight for the body's height and build is attained.

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