MadSci Network: Anatomy

Re: Diet plans for losing weight quickly

Date: Mon Jan 29 16:13:30 2001
Posted By: Elizabeth Kunkel, Faculty, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Clemson University
Area of science: Anatomy
ID: 975859681.An

One of the features of low carbohydrate diets that makes them popular is 
the rapid weight loss that is experienced by people on the diets.  This 
weight loss occurs for several reasons.  First, the body is forced to use 
carbohydrates and proteins for ready energy sources and the water that is 
bound to the carbohydrates and proteins in the body is lost as they are 
used as energy.  Normally, about 4 grams of water is bound to each gram of 
carbohydrate in the body, so this weight loss can be significant.  
Unfortunately, it is as quickly regained when a normal carbohydrate intake 
is resumed. 

Another reason for the weight loss is that the body forms 
ketone bodies from some of the fat that is consumed.  These ketone bodies are 
acidic and their excretion in the urine forces the body to excrete minerals 
to buffer the acids and to increase the amount of water that is lost to 
dilute the acids being excreted.  This not only increases urination, but 
also increases thirst.  Weight loss may also occur because calories are 
restricted--either voluntarily because of the monotony of the diet or 
involuntarily because ketone bodies are also appetite suppressants.  

A recent report from the USDA indicates that the main factor making diets 
effective is that calories are restricted--regardless of the source of 
those calories.  However, the report concludes that the most effective 
diets for the long-term are those that allow for eating a healthy balance 
of foods form all food groups.  

You may find more information about the USDA report at the new web site  
Other information for this answer was derived from "Taking the Fear Out of 
Eating--A Nutritionists' Guide to Sensible Food Choices" by C. R. Gallagher and 
J.R. Allred and "Diet and Health--Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease 
Risk" by the National Research Council.

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