Slimming shortcuts can screw your health

In the age of Instagram and Facebook, looking ‘skinny’ has become synonymous to being ‘beautiful and popular’. Indeed, the number of ‘likes’ has a powerful impact on one’s confidence and happiness. From bare midriff to thigh gap, each fashion trend is met with great enthusiasm, even if it means putting one’s health at risk. The latest addition to the ‘in vogue’ list is the ‘corset trend’, which has got women across globe risking their health in agonisingly tight corset in order to whittle down their waist.

As soon as celebrity Kim Kardashian started posting pictures of herself in tight corset on social media, the trend spread like a wild fire. The 34-year-old reality TV star, in fact, calls her corset a ‘waist trainer’. Despite the warnings from experts that constricting the mid-section of the body can harm major internal organs and restrict breathing, many are adopting corsets to ‘waist-train’ their body to extreme proportions. This shows how young women do not hesitate from punishing their body when it comes to look thin or fashionably skinny.

Over the years, losing weight has become more of an addiction than a health concern. “Nowadays, it’s hard to find a person who would say – ‘I am fit and don’t want to lose weight’. We love to talk about weight loss to an extent of an obsession,” says Ritika Samaddar, Head – Dietetics, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket. It seems ‘thin’ is not just ‘in’, it’s never ever going to go out. However, there are very few who are able to achieve this naturally, driving some to unnatural methods leading to eating disorders and poor health.

Deriving happiness from one’s size and shape is where most of us of go wrong. “The whole perception of weight loss or even getting fit is flawed. People want to lose weight fast. They pick unrealistic goals – 10 kg in 20 days, which are unrealistic and unachievable. As a result, they get stressed and resort to shortcuts that are not just unhealthy but risky as well,” says Dr Varun Katyal, skin expert and nutritionist. He further adds that weight loss should always be seen as an added bonus of getting healthier.

Starving or depriving the body of the calories is commonly considered to be helpful in weight loss, however that’s not true. Shortcuts like corset and crash diets wreak havoc on one’s health. “A weight loss through a fad diet is neither successful nor sustainable. Starving yourself or cutting out a major food group negatively impacts metabolism and digestive system,” says Dr Katyal. Skipping meals makes you crave for more calorie-rich food. “When you don’t eat for long hours, your blood sugar level dips and you suddenly start craving for sugar since it gives you high energy instantly – it’s a vicious cycle,” he adds.

Starving your body in the name of dieting is punishing as well as unrewarding. “Eating lesser calories than you need puts brain into ‘preserving mode’. Under the constant stress of deprivation your body starts releasing cortisol, known as the stress hormone, which prevents the body from burning fat,” says Sonia Narang, nutrition expert, Oriflame India. So you might be able to lose a few pounds for a short period but once you come back to your normal diet, you gain all the weight back, and sometimes even more than you had lost.

“One also loses muscle mass and bone mass with a little bit of fat through crash diets. While the fat easily comes back if you don’t exercise or stop starving yourself, it takes a lot of time to restore muscle mass and bone mass. This can result in weaker bones, sluggishness and dull skin and hair,” explains Dr Katyal. The stress of deprivation and restriction also stops one from working in a progressive way. “Tired and irritated, you are more likely to give up on ‘getting fit’ when crash dieting,” he adds.

Compromised diet also means reducing the intake of micro-nutrients such as calcium, iron, zinc, etc. “Iron and Zinc deficiency is linked to poor ovulation, affecting your fertility, and can also create complication during childbirth,” informs Samaddar.

The secret to looking slimmer and healthier is simple – the calorie output has to be more than the calorie input. “Modify or change your diet according to your likes and dislikes, instead of who’s following what. Every small step you take towards healthier lifestyle matters. For example, just because you skipped exercising today doesn’t mean you shouldn’t control your calories intake for the rest of the day. In fact, you should do the exact opposite,” suggests Samaddar. Swear off fad diets, slimming pills, corset and other shortcuts.

“You don’t know how these would affect your body. Simply focus on moderation and exercising,” says Dr Katyal. For him, one should work towards boosting one’s metabolism. “Go for weight training to build muscle mass, begin your mornings with a bowl of fruit as this will help stimulate your metabolism for the day and increase your water intake,” he advises. The experience of weight loss has to be pleasurable and not punishing, and in case it’s the latter for you, then it’s simply not worth it.

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