Friday, November 6, 2009

The Dangers of Competitive Dieting?

Competitive dieting: It's the antithesis of competitive eating which makes me the Bizarro-Kobayashi.

Now I think I have a pretty good understanding of how a healthy diet should work. To put it simply make sure that calories in are less then calories out and every 3500 calories you burn you'll lose a pound (I count my calories using's calorie counter which you can find here)... Other tips are to eat smaller portions more times a day to keep your metabolism up and to prevent you from getting too hungry. You should also drink more water which will make you feel full and help your body flush some of the waste your burning. Some diets also recommend focusing on increased protein consumption but as a runner I need my carbs so I pretty much ignore that one...If you want to do it safely it's usually recommended that you aim to lose about 1 to 2 lbs a week until you hit your goal weight.

Now you can throw that last tip out the window because this isn't about safely losing weight... it's about losing as much weight as you possibly can in 6 weeks!!! Hey, maybe this competitive diet thing isn't really the marvelous pathway to a healthy lifestyle that people all around the country believe it to be.

A quick google search led me to this blog that outlines some of the dangers of competitive eating and obsessive dieting.

Like anything, it really comes down to moderation... Obesity may be an epidemic, but when it comes down to it, it's probably much healthier to be a little bit overweight then to be anorexic or bulimic.

Of course I'm a marathon runner so moderation isn't in my vocabulary and I'm going to dominate this competition... in which case it comes down to is limits... I have enough faith in my knowledge of exercise and nutrition that I feel like I can push myself to the limit without going over the line and causing myself any damage. But a lot of people aren't as informed as I think I am and they may fail to recognize the dangers in competitive dieting. I mean when people tune in every week to watch the Biggest Loser on NBC the message they're getting is that rapid weight loss = healthiness and happiness.

On a more local level I'm worried for some of the people who are in my personal weight loss competition. From the weigh in it appeared to be mostly middle-aged overweight housewives who probably are not well educated about what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. Then when the trainer at the gym who's running the competition says that I'm obese because my BMI is over 30 then it really makes me worry (sorry I keep ranting about the BMI thing but ignorance really bothers me, especially when its coming from someone who's supposed to know better... looks like I'm going to have to do a post about BMI). Oh well, hopefully no one gets hurt during the competition.

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