Vitamin supplements: good or bad?

A visitor from a far-off planet observing the way we behave could easily assume that dieting is a very good idea. We do it all the time. Dieting is so popular that in the past 10 years it's estimated that around 70 per cent of the adult female population and 30 per cent of all adult males have been on one.

It doesn't seem to matter whether it's the Atkins diet or liquid diets, people will try almost anything in their frantic desire to shed a few pounds. Unfortunately, the results are usually the same. Although diets do produce results in the short term, very few dieters maintain their weight loss.

Worse than this, most dieters end up bigger than they were before they started dieting. So, why don't diets work? Dieters rarely think of rehearsing how they will manage in difficult situations such as going out to dinner with friends; they just hope their willpower will hold up and punish themselves if it doesn't.

A shortcut to health

That we need vitamins is not in dispute. Vitamins are a small group of substances that are essential in tiny quantities for growth and development. Most of them cannot be manufactured by the body and must come from our diet.

But some people think that if you take vitamin pills by the handful, you don’t have to bother watching what you eat. It is easy to see the attraction of an approach whereby you can exist on junk food, have a terrible lifestyle and still be 'healthy'.

Other people take a less extreme view and try their best to follow the prevailing health advice. They recognise that they will fall short of the ideal and take vitamins as a kind of insurance policy.

Doctors, too, thought this was a good idea. After all, in laboratory tests vitamins E and C had a powerful effect on the 'free radicals' that are linked to all sorts of medical problems from cancer to heart disease.

Many studies have since shown that vitamins from supplements do not act on the body in the same way as vitamins from foods.

Diets make you feel hungry

Research shows that no matter what your size, diets make you hungry and create powerful cravings for the very foods you are trying to avoid, eg sugar and fat.

On top of these cravings, dieters also have to manage feelings of deprivation: 'Everybody is eating what I'm not allowed to. They can have it - why cant I?' This kind of thinking is likely to lead to rebellious overeating.

Dieters lapse and collapse

A diet only works for as long as you are on it. Most people get bored with rigid eating plans and go off the rails from time to time.

The trouble is that for many people a lapse is a sign of failure. They tell themselves they've 'blown it' and experience feelings of inadequacy.

The lapse becomes a slippery slope and they end up eating anything that's not nailed to the floorboards because 'it's fine, I'll start again tomorrow'.

Such people go from diet to diet, hoping to find the one that will stop them from failing. But such a diet doesn't exist, and they may end up bigger each time they try.

Why lose weight and how to do it correctly

If you want to lose weight but do not know where to start then this article is for you. Learn why you need to lose weight, understand what is fat and learn about the factors affecting weight loss and weight gain. Furthermore read our 5 tips on how to lose weight correctly.

Diets fail to address the emotional aspect of overeating

Squash is an intensive sport therefore making it ideal for weight loss. You are advised to do 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day on average, but for squash it is half this. So, you only need to do less than 2 hours of squash a week to stay healthy under the government’s guidelines. For squash weight loss you should do more than this.

All exercise is good for health

Your metabolic rate is the rate at which your body uses up calories. So, if you take in 2,500 calories a day, and burn all those 2,500 calories a day, you’ll stay the same weight. If you burn only 2,000 of those calories, you’ll put on weight. Becoming more active is an effective way to speed up your metabolic rate so that you can burn more calories than you eat.

Regular exercise has a great many health benefits too, including helping to combat diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and osteoporosis. Also, as your body releases natural feel-good chemicals when you exercise, this can boost your mental and emotional wellbeing, helping you to combat stress and feel happier. Remember to consult your doctor before you start an exercise programme.