Junk Science

Eat and lose weight. Don't diet.

People Try To Make Money With Junk Science In The Weightloss World

Except for discussions around the water cooler, and debates about the environment and global warming, there probably is nowhere that junk science is more common than in issues surrounding the topics of weight loss, nutrition, diet, exercise and other health topics in general.

Lower body mass index with African Mango PlusEvery month (sometimes it seems like every day) there's a new claim, often given a shiny coat of respectability by quotes from the latest "study". Many of these statements come from experienced researchers and scientists themselves, many of whom honestly believe what they are saying! If trained scientists have difficulty deciding what the truth is, you can certainly bet the average laymen doesn't know for sure.

So, an average man or woman just wants to lose weight in a healthy, effective manner. What are they to do? Who are they supposed to believe?

Not everyone is a scientist, and very few of us have the time, inclination, or training necessary to read dozens of scientific studies and glean the truth from them. 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.

Cast a skeptical eye on outsized claims. "Outsized", here, means those that make dead certain claims to know what's best in nutrition - especially when they contradict long-standing and obvious guidelines, or good old-fashioned common sense.

Details may differ from study to study, but all reputable studies have reached the conclusion that a balanced diet of the basic essentials - carbohydrates, protein, etc - is best. All agree that moderate, regular age-appropriate exercise is also an important factor in health in general and weight loss in particular.

Be wary of anyone making promises that overemphasize words like "easy" or "quick results". It's possible to achieve these to some degree, but healthy weight loss takes time, and, while the science is simple, the practice of a good weight loss program is not always "easy" for everyone. A sensible weight loss program will definitely consider safety first. Reducing excess body fat, losing weight and getting fit require a long-term commitment, and generally a bit of self-discipline, and maybe a little sweat.

Treat with caution any program that tries 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. These sorts of things are also highly influenced by the individual's genetic makeup, life style, age, and other factors. The actual results of eating, or not eating, many types of foods will vary widely from person to person.

I guess what I am saying is to avoid extremes.

In the modern world of diets, there are all kinds of strange things. Keep one point in mind about diets, by the way. Even if they work, and Diets Don't Work, hopefully your ultimate goal is a healthier, happier you for life. As soon as you go off the diet, you will begin to gain back the weight you lost, and you will have to repeat the process all over again. Do you want to spend the rest of your life eating in the ways recommended by the weird diets below?

For example, there are 3-day diets that recommend eating nothing but fruit for three days, then other foods the rest of the week. Not a good idea. Such a diet is inherently unbalanced and will cause rollercoaster effects on the body. It won't help you lose weight either.

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. Can't get much protein from fruit.

Anyone selling a miracle cure, effortless or instant results, while claiming to have a safe and reliable program is selling you air. Save your money and your health. Don't buy into it.

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Page Updated 3:38 PM Wednesday 9/2/2015