Poor health, a junk food society, lack of a true understanding about healthy foods, along with (sometimes dangerous) fad diets can all create the effects of a poor diet.
According to Jessica Crandall, dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA), "People are sick of their old habits and being overweight, and they're looking for something new." People quickly jump on the next fad diet as the answer to their problems.
Unfortunately, the effects of a poor diet may not be what they planned. Some fad diets cause fatigue, bad breath or frequent urination. Severe diets can even slow down the body’s metabolism if you don’t eat enough calories and the body goes into “famine” mode. It’s important to understand calories and choose a diet that you can follow long-term to lose weight and maintain that weight loss.
Not all calories are equal. Although calories have the same amount of energy from wherever they are sourced, it is important to spread out your allotted daily calories to include bulky items high in vitamins, protein (to feel full for longer) and fiber (to avoid severe constipation).
Our body is a highly complex system with thousands of different processes that all require food energy. Different foods may be processed through different biochemical processes that may cause energy to be expended as heat. Other foods affect the brain and hormones that control the appetite and eating patterns.
Protein Metabolism Burns Calories
When it comes to eating calories for energy, protein requires more energy to metabolize than carbohydrates or fat. Protein contains four calories per gram, but it burns some of those calories as heat, as it is broken down and used in the body. Studies show that high protein diets boost metabolism, burning an extra 80-100 calories per day compared to other diets, making protein calories a dieter’s best friend.
Another difference in calories is seen between fructose (sourced from added sugars) and glucose. They both have the same chemical formula, but glucose can be converted into energy by all the body’s tissues making it readily available for use, while fructose is mainly metabolized by the liver. Fructose raises ghrelin hormone levels in the brain which increases feelings of hunger; while glucose stimulates feelings of being satiated after eating. In addition, fructose promotes abdominal fat gain, insulin resistance and increased blood sugar, all negative effects of a poor diet, while glucose does not promote abdominal fat gain. These sugars have the same calories but have a completely different effect on the body.
Calories and Exercise
Although any successful diet includes exercise, it is most effective in conjunction with reduced calorie intake. Trying to burn an extra 500 calories a day would be impossible for most people, and would be hard to maintain, but reducing your calorie intake by 500 calories per day is relatively simple.
By switching fatty, sweet, high-calories foods for fruits, vegetables and whole foods you can avoid the effects of a poor diet while losing weight healthfully and successfully.