These diets often fall into the category of “dissociated” dieting as they recommend, generally speaking, eating only one food group, usually animal protein and cutting out any other kind of food substances. But, as Dr. Joe Leonardi author of “Obesity Undone” points out, if you only eat one food group cutting out all the rest then you will lose weight – but to what cost?
Yes, these diets are efficient but they are also highly dangerous. Let’s take a look!
(I have to admit that these diets tend to put my sense of humour off-kilter!)
The efficiency of these diets is proven to their adepts through the rapid weight loss with no sensation of hunger – you lose weight and you’re not hungry! How fabulous is that?
The metabolic mechanism of these diets is very simple. By only eating protein, be it animal protein or protein drinks, the pancreas is not solicited and therefore produces either very insignificant amounts of insulin and even none at all.
I explained previously weight gain with regards to insulin production. So here, very simply, the process is reversed and the body is obliged, as glucose is the “fuel” that our bodies run on, to draw from the reserves stocked in the fat cells. Basically, the fat cells are retransformed into glucose to fuel the body hence the weight loss – in very simple terms.
However, after a short period on this kind of diet, negative symptoms begin to appear. They may seem harmless but believe me they are not!
The lack of fibre in the diet induces constipation and in some cases severe constipation resulting in intestinal invagination – the intestine folds in on itself. The symptomatology of that is abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and rectal bleeding. More severe cases can lead to necrosis and septicaemia resulting in coma and death.
Often these diets will recommend a large consumption of water to compensate for the lack of fibre and your body will most likely be screaming for water in order to aid the digestion of the protein and eliminate the constipation. But the over-consumption of water, particularly when it is accompanied by a lack of essential nutrients, can lead to cerebral oedema, a condition similar to hydrocephalus (water on the brain) leading to, after other unpleasant complications, central nervous system dysfunction resulting in seizures, brain damage, coma and death.
The imbalance of nutriments due to the lack of variety leads to severe vitamin deficiency resulting in fatigue, lethargy, headaches, nausea, vomiting, blindness, scurvy, rickets, impaired blood coagulation, anaemia and a whole host of other vitamin deficiency related illnesses. In short, you are suffering from malnutrition and you’re risking death.
Another unpleasant and very common complaint linked to these diets is a bad case of halitosis. Now, halitosis is unfortunate in itself but, above all, it is a sign that something is wrong and here’s why.
Our bodies are programmed to produce insulin very naturally; it is a process that is supposed to happen when we eat. Now, these diets, as mentioned above, reverse the process entailing a very minimal and even non-existent insulin production. The body, being obliged to draw from the stored glucose in the fat cells, will break down the fatty acids resulting in a high concentration of ketone that in turn leads to the production of acetone due to the decarboxylation of the ketone bodies.
Prolonged use of these high-protein ultra low-carbohydrate diets, can produce ketosis, in which acetone is formed in body tissue. Ketosis, which is the prolonged excess of ketone bodies in the tissue and the blood leads in its turn to ketoacidosis.
Ketoacidosis is a pathological metabolic state where the pH of the blood undergoes a substantial decrease. In layman’s terms, your blood turns acid, also known as blood poisoning.
Oddly enough, ketoacidosis is one of the main markers of type 1 diabete and oddly enough entails bad breath – the breath smells of nail varnish or paint thinner. Interestingly, acetone is an organic compound used in nail varnish and paint thinner. Before we go any further, ask yourself if you would deliberately ingest nail varnish or paint thinner – I thought not!
In short, on this kind of diet you are, in fact, putting yourself into a diabetic state. Diabetes is a debilitating illness of which, not only there are metabolic symptoms, but can also result in blindness, stroke, gangrene and amputation, just to mention a few of the accompanying dangers.
Untreated, diabetes results in ketoacidosis, due to the increased fat metabolism following the shortage of insulin.
This acidosis, the blood poisoning, attacks all of the major organs in the body resulting in kindey and liver failure, brain damage, pulmonary arrest and heart failure – coma and death are the usual symptoms!
Make no mistake about it and weigh up the consequences very carefully when considering one of these hyperprotein diets.
Are the benefits worth the risks?
I don’t believe so!
Copyright “Nurture and Nutrition – The Gentle Path to Definitive Weight Loss”