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health 3In the run up to the winter ‘season’ which starts around the end of November, everyone, or at least every woman, seems to be worried about losing weight and looking good. A favourite topic of discussion is how to lose weight for the forthcoming season of weddings and social commitments. On several occasions, brides-to-be have also sought my medical opinion on how to lose ‘those extra 10 pounds’ before the big day.

For most women and some men too, the answer is usually some fad diet or other. True, fad diets  (whether they are lowcarb, highprotein or liquids only) do help with rapid weight loss – but these are temporary fixes and in the long run, most fad diet followers find that they have ‘dieted themselves fat’.

Yes, it’s true, while you may look fabulous in time for the wedding or the big New Year’s bash, it is most likely that you will find the weight returning in a few weeks. This is how it happens: most fad diets restrict food intake (eliminating entire food groups and depriving the body of important nutrients) which results in the body utilising muscle for energy since fat stores are much more difficult to break down. In the long run, this slows down the metabolic rate which means it is much easier for the body to gain fat when you go back to your old eating habits.

A fad diet may be effective in the short-term but could end up being more troublesome in the long-term. For a permanent solution, almost any medical practitioner will recommend that you make healthy lifestyle choices instead of going for crash fad diets.

I know it is clichéd and repetitive but it is also the truth: change your eating habits, regulate portion sizes, eat plenty of fruit and greens and avoid fatty foods and empty calories. Don’t forget, a little exercise will go a long way.

– Waqar Saeed
The writer is a General Practitioner and Emergency Physician at a private healthcare facility.

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on November 24, 2013.