Nutrition Department of Mediterraneo Hospital
In the recent years, nutrition has been increasingly drawing scientific interest. Admittedly, should one enter a popular internet search engine, the terms “diet”, “weight loss” etc. will generate thousands of results. However, some of these results may not be scientifically documented and they may be associated with various health risks.
Undoubtedly, the ways to lose weight, providing fast and spectacular results, always draw people’s attention. Within that frame, “magic” pills and “forbidden” foods have emerged, being presented as the only solution for the treatment of overweight and obesity. But where does the truth lie?
As far as the ”forbidden” foods are concerned, food intolerance tests have been recently available, indicating which foods are fattening or block one’s metabolism. Afterwards, it is recommended that the person should remove these foods from his daily diet for a short or a long period of time. There is no documented scientific study available, showing that there are foods affecting metabolism or being associated with weight loss or weight gain respectively. Weight loss and weight gain are solely due to the energy balance, namely the relationship between “energy in” (food calories taken into the body through food and drink) and “energy out” (calories being used in the body for our daily energy requirements and physical activities). Intolerance is a condition in which the body is unable to digest one or several food components, causing various symptoms, that are not associated with weight gain. The two most frequently occurring kinds of intolerance is gluten intolerence (celiac disease) and lactose intolerance, being both diagnosed with specialized tests that are not carried out at fitness centers or private practice.
Many people have been subjected to these tests and seem to have lost weight, which is absolutely reasonable, since they exclude foods from their diet, meaning that they consequently reduce their caloric intake. Unfortunately, when the exclusion of some food groups from one’s diet lasts for a long period of time, it can cause significant deficiencies in nutrients, being essential for the proper body function.
According to the Hellenic Dietetic Association, no intolerence test is an effective way to reduce body weight.
Apart from intolerance tests, numerous dietary supplements are also available, promising big weight loss, mainly by reducing appetite or by causing malabsorption of ceratin nutrients, such as fat. Most of them have been studied in the literature. The majority of studies conclude that there are insufficient data supporting their success in weight loss and further investigation is needed. Their results are short-term, and it is not clear if some of them are associated with adverse effects on health.
To sum up, nothing can substitute a balanced diet. There are not good and bad foods or magic ways to lose weight. A variety of foods should be consumed along with moderate levels of physical activity, which not only ensure a healthy weight and fat mass loss, but also a successful weight maintenance or loss.