Should You Be Dieting? The Pros and Cons

Is Dieting Bad For You? The Pros and Cons of Eating to Lose Weight

To me, "dieting" means following a specific plan in order to lose weight (instead of following a diet for health or other reasons). Starting a new diet plan can be daunting, not to mention hard to maintain. But the results can be worth it if you're trying to be healthier and lose weight.

Of course, whether or not dieting is bad for you depends on the type of diet plan you're following. Popular and top-rated diets like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig ensure that you stay healthy while on the path to losing weight (good), while crazy fad or crash diets have you restricting calories, and nutrients, to the point of starvation (bad). But is the act of dieting good for you? Read on for the pros and cons of dieting and let us know what you think!

The Good
Dieting doesn't have to mean depriving. However, overhauling your normal eating habits can be good for you, especially if you're used to eating things that may not be so healthy. In fact, vowing to go on a diet causes you to make healthier lifestyle choices, which can be a good step in maintaining a healthy diet in the future.

Then there's the benefits of carrying on a low-calorie diet that can prolong life. Studies have found that following a restricted-calorie diet (one that slashes daily calorie intake by about a third) consistently helps people live longer and healthier lives — reduced cholesterol levels, normalized blood sugar, and a better response to stress — and may also slow the aging process.

That all sounds good, right? Another reason why dieting works in a healthy lifestyle is it makes you pay attention to what you're putting in your body. By understanding the building blocks of nutrition, like how much protein and fiber you should be getting, and realizing how your body responds to certain foods. Reading labels is important in making not only sticking to your calorie count, but that you are getting the protein, fiber, or other nutrients that you need.

OK, but is dieting good for you? It depends. Too much dieting, of course, can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food or other not-so-great consequences. A new study has found that dieting may lead to starvation in more ways than one; in fact, dieting may cause your brain cells to eat themselves in order to sustain energy, which may actually lead you to feel hungrier.

Too much restriction can be hard to maintain whether or not your brain is sending hungry signals. If you are always depriving yourself of your food favorites or constantly restricting cravings, a temporary diet cheat can lead to feeling discouraged, which can lead to quitting that diet. Not good. And don't forget the fact that yo-yo dieting can slow your metabolism by as much as 15 percent by making your body think that it needs to conserve, instead of burn, those calories.

What do you think about "dieting"? Do you think it's ultimately good for you, or do you think focusing on weight loss can have less-than-healthy consequences?

Source: Thinkstock
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