Many people attempt to apply all the different diet plans they have heard of at one go or move from one to the other in the hope of losing weight, resulting in health problems. Image Credit: Gettyimages

The less I eat and the more I exercise, the slimmer I'll be — right?

In the fight against the kilogrammes some people turn to hazardous crash diets, completely avoiding vital food groups and exercising compulsively.

Nafeesa Ahmad, nutritionist at Zulekha Hospital, and Victoria Leckie from Ignite Fitness are both firsthand witnesses to patients and clients who go to extremes with excessive exercise and dieting.

Information overload

An infinite number of articles, blog posts, and advertisements suggesting quick and easy weight loss solutions may be both confusing and misleading to people, who want to go on a diet.

Ahmad told Gulf News: "The patients try to apply all [the different health tips and diets] at one time or move from one solution to the other in the hope of losing weight.

"These yoyo diets, besides being unsustainable, may also pose a risk to health."

A common misconception is that fruits and vegetables are unconditionally healthy, and that you will lose weight if you diet strictly on them.

Damaging practices

In reality, according to Ahmad, it can be seriously damaging to the body to restrict any food group.

In the short term it may cause a feeling of weakness, dizziness and fatigue, as well as induce headaches and dehydration.

In the long term, being deprived of essential nutrients may increase the risk of kidney stones, bone loss, heart disease, and even certain cancers, Ahmad said.

Though you may experience rapid weight loss, the kilos you lose will mainly consist of fluids, and those are quickly regained, the nutritionist explained.

"It is well known that losing weight and maintaining it is difficult," she said.

"There are no quick fixes or magical foods that will allow you to quickly lose the weight that took years to gain." Another misconception is that the more you work out, the healthier you will be.

According to fitness expert Leckie, "the more the better" is not a phrase that applies well to exercise.

Balance is needed

She said: "Physically it can be very risky to work out too much, if the body is not accustomed to it."

Leckie explained that over-exercising increases the risk of injuries to different parts of the body such as shin splints, strains and muscle fatigue. Excessive exercise also poses a mental hazard. "People risk developing an unhealthy attitude to exercise. An obsession, almost."

Both health specialists advise people to seek professional help to strike a balance, since each body composition is unique and has specific needs.

Expert health tips

NutritionN Do not restrict any food group. N You need the right proportion of all the nutrients in each meal such as: carbohydrates, proteins, fibres, vitamins and minerals, and also fats.

Starchy foods such as bread, cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes are a really important part of a healthy diet. Starchy foods should make up about a third of the food we eat. They are a good source of energy and the main source of a range of nutrients in our diet.
As well as starch, these foods contain fibre, calcium, iron and B vitamins. Some people think starchy foods are fattening, but gramme for gramme they contain less than half the calories of fat.

You just need to watch the fats you add when cooking and serving these foods.N Drink plenty of water (eight to 10 glasses per day).N Starvation, weight reduction pills, and fad diets, such as the Grapefruit Diet, are neither healthy nor long-term solutions.


Exercise three to four times a week at moderate intensity for 45 minutes. Allow your muscles to recover after you have worked out. Get adequate sleep.