Dieting Danger: Make Sure You Get Your Vitamins

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If you’re overweight or obese, dieting is often the first thing your doctor will recommend. But what if that very diet is actually compromising your health? Recent studies indicate that your so-called lifesaving weight loss plan might have a seriously negative impact on your body by depleting it of precious nutrients and vitamins.

By studying four different weight-loss plans — the Atkin’s, Zone, LEARN and Ornish diets, to be precise — researchers from Stanford University in California have concluded that while calories, fat and carbs are often perfectly balanced on these eating programs, essential nutrients aren’t a big focus. In fact, some dieters didn’t even meet the national recommendations for some vitamins. Vitamin E was the most overlooked.

Lead researcher Christopher Gardner and his team determined their results by questioning over 300 dieting women about their eating habits both at the beginning of one of these four diets and two months into it. They measured things like overall calorie consumption and their average intake of 12 different essential nutrients. On average, participants were eating 2,000 calories a day at the beginning of the program, compared to 1,500 when they were two months in.

Sure, it’s only natural that eating less overall means consuming less nutrients, but this is a dangerous pattern when it comes to your health, experts say. “Our bodies work best when vitamin and mineral deficiencies are absent, and healthy food is the best way to get enough of these important nutrients,” Dr. Michael Dansinger of Tufts University told Reuters.

Of the diets studied, The Zone was declared the healthiest when it came to vitamins — Zone dieters were found to consume adequate levels of vitamins A, E, K and C, but the same couldn’t be said for the rest. Only the Atkin’s diet recommends followers take additional supplements to make up for the nutrient they’re not getting from healthy carbs.

It’s not the first time we’ve told you that dieting is bad for you health, and it probably won’t be the last. But if you must diet, the Zone definitely came out on top in this instance. Why? “It isn’t just total carbohydrates that Zone recommends be cut back. It is more specifically the added sugars and refined grains,” said Gardner.

Still, you don’t need to turn to fancy diet programs like the Zone to lose weight healthfully — it’s all down to common sense. “Keep the greens and beans and veggies. Lose the soda, sweets, and the packaged processed foods,” Gardner adds. Amen to that.

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