So how do we make sure we're following the right diet? Which ones are inadvisable and even dangerous? We discuss this with three nutrition experts, who also remind us that health always comes before the quest for slimness.
Does my diet work?
Leyre López-Iranzu, nutritionist at Clínica FEMM, explains: “Tools such as measuring body weight, waist circumference, analyzing body composition and assessing strength and physical performance can be used. It's important to set realistic, safe goals and design a diet and exercise program tailored to individual needs.
It's also important to pay attention to how you feel and how your body is changing, rather than just focusing on the numbers on the scale.”
For her part, Lara Garcelán, nutritionist-dietitian at HM Torrelodones University Hospital, says: “I always tell my patients that the best way for us to see progress is that they see a change in their habits, they incorporate exercise into their daily routine, they feel stronger and with more energy and, in the case where this diet is geared towards weight loss, their clothes are looser.
We can also use electrical bioimpedance tools, where we obtain body composition values that guide us on the patient's muscle mass and fat mass.
Dr. Paloma Gil, a specialist in endocrinology and nutrition, also points out that “ideally, we should be able to measure body composition using bioelectrical impedance, X-ray absorptiometry or other clinical methods available in specialized medical practices.”
But a useful way to measure our progress at home is to determine waist circumference with a tape measure. It is measured just above the iliac crests and is a good indicator of how much visceral fat we have. Ideally, a woman's waist circumference should be no more than 82 cm and no more than 88 cm, and a man's waist circumference should be no more than 95 cm and no more than 102 cm.
Professionals nevertheless remind us of the importance of being cautious when opting for certain particularly dangerous diets. “The most dangerous diets are those that promote extreme and rapid weight loss via multiple restrictions on foods or food groups, or those that promote excessive consumption of a single food or supplement. These diets can be hazardous to health, causing nutritional deficiencies, dehydration and other health problems”, reminds Leyre López-Iranzu.
Lara Garcelán concurs, the most dangerous diets are “those that are restrictive, practised without professional supervision and based on myths or legends about a specific food without any scientific evidence behind them”.
Is summer a good time?
The data corroborates that summer is the season that most favors the choice of these diets, especially among the youngest: according to the latest Youth Barometer, carried out by the Reina Sofía Center on Adolescence and Youth, 18.9% of the population aged between 15 and 29 are on diets to lose weight.
The consequences that can flow from this desire to achieve “the summer body” can be dramatic: numerous studies link the social and media pressure to which young people are exposed on a daily basis with the development of mental health problems such as eating disorders or anxiety, according to the experts at Northius, a leading training group in Spain, born of the integration of experienced educational establishments.
Manuel Lago, an expert in nutrition and sport and a member of the editorial team of the European Centre for Masters and Postgraduate Diplomas (CEMP), warns on this subject: “a restrictive diet for a short period of time only tires the person out. we quickly settle for eating little and very low-calorie dishes, but the consequences are not just mental: this type of diet can be very out of sync with the needs of many organisms, causing hormonal imbalances, fatigue, even eating disorders.”
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