| DIETICIANS in Valencia have warned against following fast-track slimming plans that cut out entire food groups, since they can cause severe deficiencies in vital nutrients and even lead to problems with the liver and kidneys.
With the start of the so-called annual 'operation bikini', where women of all shapes and sizes in Spain attempt to lose weight to look their best on the beach, 'fad' diets – particularly those that promise unrealistic results – become dangerously popular.
One of the most popular in recent years includes variations on a diet rich in protein with few or no carbohydrates – some versions of which even cut out fruit and vegetables.
The Valencia-based clinic Intraobes warns that these can lead to internal organ damage, fatigue, and a sudden but unsustainable weight loss which, in the longer term, leads to the dieter putting all the weight back on and more besides.
Only two per cent of dieters who lose weight through a high-protein diet manage to keep it off for more than a year, says Intraobes.
They add that they have seen numerous patients suffering fluid retention, problems urinating, severe oedema and yellow skin and eyes after following such diets, given that their liver and kidney functions are adversely affected.
Losing weight is often merely a case of changing cooking methods, such as using olive oil for frying and sticking to no more than two dessert spoons of oil per day, reducing salt consumption – since this can lead to water retention – drinking little or no water during meals but as much as possible between meals, cutting visible fat off meat and fish, reducing sugar consumption and eating fresh food where possible, including five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
Microwaving, steaming, grilling or dry-frying food keeps vitamins, minerals and flavour intact, as opposed to boiling, which strips out all the goodness in food or deep-fat frying, which impregnates them with large quantities of unnecessary fat, says Intraobes.
Chewing every mouthful fully and spending at least 20 minutes on eating a meal aids digestion, they add.
Although a diet may lead to the loss of up to six pounds, or two-and-a-half to three kilos, in the first week, a lot of this is body fluid and, henceforth, weight loss should not exceed one to two pounds, or a maximum of one kilo, per week.
More than this can lead to fatigue, illness, and almost certainly to piling the weight back on and frequently more besides.