Dieters eat and drink in a regulated manner with the ultimate goal of weight loss. In some cases, dieting is used to regulate vitamins and nutrients one consumes.
Dieting as a means of weight loss has been occurring for centuries. In the 17th and 18th centuries people regulated food as a form of disease prevention. Experimentation with targeted diets began in the 19th century. In 1863, William Banting became one of the first people known to lose weight by dieting that targeted carbohydrates.
What is not considered dieting?
Restrictions on food imposed by certain religions are not usually considered dieting. Also, Vegetarianism is considered a lifestyle choice (often for religious, spiritual or ethical reasons) and is thereby not considered dieting. Likewise, eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia should not be confused with dieting.
The science behind dieting
Dieters limit their appetites by eating foods that are filling, using appetite-suppressing drugs, or engaging in mild exercise. The most widely accepted theory behind dieting for weight loss is that more energy should be expended than is consumed. In any diet, fitness and exercise should play a leading role. Those dieting should focus on losing fat without losing much muscle since muscle burns more calories than fat; the more muscle a person has, the higher his or her metabolism. To lose a pound of fat, one must burn 2,500 calories more than one consumes.
- Weight loss groups. Profit and nonprofit organizations like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Overeaters Anonymous assist people in their efforts. Methods of these groups vary.
- Fad diets. These diets are popular for a short period of time and are often related to celebrity endorsement. Some are deemed ineffective and dangerous; others just fade from the public’s mind. Fad diets include the grapefruit diet, low-fat diets, natural diets and the Atkins diet.
- Medical diets. Often, medical conditions require specific dietary restrictions (to avoid or consume chemicals or nutrients).
- Vegetarian diet. Although not typically considered dieting, there is growing evidence that vegetarian eating habits can lower the risk of disease and prevent obesity.
- Very Low Calorie Diet. This diet should be practiced under strict medical supervision. It can be dangerous but it does offer rapid fat loss and should be used for no longer than six to 12 weeks.
Health issues and side effects
Yo-yo dieting is dangerous since it decreases one’s metabolism. When the diet is over, weight often returns to — or exceeds than — the person's previous weight. Likewise, over-the-counter and prescribed medications have been proven extremely dangerous.
Fasting is dangerous and usually results in a loss of muscle but not a loss of fat. Dieting can result in prolonged hunger, depression, a reduced sex drive and irritability.