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Hypocaloric Diet: How to Structure it?

by | Apr 5, 2021 | What to Eat | 0 comments

  1. What it is
  2. Who prescribes it
  3. Fashionable diets and false beliefs
  4. When To Use It
  5. How To Structure It
  6. Nutritional Balance

What it is

The Hypocaloric diet (low-calorie diet) is a diet that provides a daily calorie/energy intake that is lower than that required by the body during the day.

In the eyes of a professional, this definition might seem reductive or only partially agreeable. In fact, the characteristics and requirements of a good low-calorie diet are much more numerous, but, strictly speaking, the etymology of the term is essential, to say the least:

  • diet: rules on a diet or controlled food regimen resulting from a therapeutic indication; from the greek “diaita” meaning “lifestyle.”
  • Type-: short particle.
  • Caloric: It has either calories/energy.

Who prescribes it

The low-calorie diet is a food therapy; “therapy” means “cure” or “healing,” and that means the application of the diet includes at least two discriminators:

  • IT MUST be prescribed/evaluated/structured and followed by a qualified professional (dietician, a biologist specialized in nutrition or dietitian) – further legislative details should be referred to;
  • MUST ONLY be used if necessary; as if it were a “pharmacological cycle,” the low-calorie diet does NOT benefit healthy people in normal weight. And/or without metabolism alterations that make it justifiable.

The low-calorie diet should exclude any aesthetic purpose since its prolonged use (considered to be over 6-8 months) brings with it evident stress to the subject. Both at the physical and psychological level, even though low-calorie diets are not all the same, of course.

On the other hand, despite an ethical – professional protection regulation, many pseudo-professionals are taking advantage of the unofficial prescription and composition of the low-calorie diet, ignoring or circumventing the current regulations. Some of the most frequent “gables” are:

  • The transcription of a volume – free (legally granted to personal trainers) low – calorie food scheme, the portions of which are specified “in a voice”;
  • Printing (in the machine – writing or computer – writing) of the low – calorie diet (no authentication signature) (to avoid its traceability or legal challenge);
  • The composition of a diet regimen is then authenticated by a licensed and ethically incorrect professional.

Fashionable diets and false beliefs

All against the hypocaloric diet

The incorrect application and excessive use of the low-calorie diet have led to a collective rejection of the energy restriction over the last half-century.

Today there is an increasing talk:

  • of the metabolic destination of nutrients
  • abandonment of caloric esteem
  • return to an ancestral diet
  • the exploitation of hormonal cycles
  • an increase of metabolism
  • acid-base balance
  • energy yin and yang
  • nutrigenetics
  • nutrigenomics, etc.

Moreover, according to a specific current of thinking, the low-calorie diet hurts, does not lose weight, and lowers metabolism! We are not discussing why these claims are incorrect, approximate, and any. We are again referring to the deepening to other related articles.

The curious aspect is that most often (but not always), these are concepts with foundations of great truth but unfortunately distorted or incorrectly applied/disseminated. Furthermore, specific claims disregard the fact that conventional diet therapy provides constant updating of experimental research and statistics in the medical and nutritional field. This means that professionals should always be well-informed and aware of the various “novelties” (subject to individual professionalism).

Consumption of right foods

Some people wash their hands completely and say: “calories are an old, unnecessary, formidable concept. We need to CONSUME only foods that (for one reason or another) are led to metabolizing properly.” From here comes delirium. Those abolishing milk and dairy products, cereals and legumes (including derivatives), fresh fruit, etc. It is also necessary to specify that sometimes we see good and just awareness grabs, such as:

  • abandoning artifacts
  • nerve drinks
  • sugar
  • salt and added fat, etc. 

Curious to note that these attitudes. If applied in parallel, which was born as a contrast to the food restriction, it may constitute an actual hypocaloric diet (and even the “toasts”!) and a food regime that excludes 50% of the food available. In the face of freedom and disengagement! Of course, they lose weight, we’ll miss it! Analyzing the complex with the eyes of a professional, abolishing: oil and butter, all packaged or packed foods, cereals, legumes, milk, cheese and fat, and almost all of the fruit, would remain: lean meat and fish, eggs, vegetables, and nuts. In practice, a high-protein diet, potentially ketogenic and necessarily low-calorie (unless abnormal portions are used). Probably, by documenting the potential risks of a similar long-term diet, the reader will understand how far these strategies may be away from health and food education requirements.

We must remember using the traditional diet system (the one so rejected by the new “guru” of nutrition) for overall energy estimation. There is no calorie-free diet that is not a low-calorie diet steeped in food similarity.

I think that having said this, there is no need to add more.

When To Use It

When is the hypocaloric diet necessary? What are its application findings?

As anticipated, the hypocaloric diet is a therapy.

The “primary” use of this diet is aimed at slimming down, that is to say, reducing fat mass and abdominal circumference, and therefore the body mass index (BMI/BMI). It is well known how overweight and even worse obesity are related to the emergence of metabolic, primary, and secondary diseases, of an environment. And/or hereditary nature; some examples are:

  • dyslipidemia (high TOT and/or LDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, both)
  • hyperglycemia or type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • arterial hypertension
  • hyperuricemia and/or gout;
  • more than one, and concomitants go to define the so-called “metabolic syndrome.”

Metabolic diseases

Metabolic diseases have several complications and negative effects on the body. This worsens the quality of life, increases the risk of death or permanent disability, and significantly increases public health expenditure. Some complications and negative implications are changes in the:

  • microcirculation
  • vision
  • peripheral nervous system
  • the function of specific organs (especially the kidneys, liver, and heart)
  • systemic inflammation
  • atherosclerosis
  • then increased risk of cardiovascular disease (ischemic heart disease and cerebral vascular syndrome).

There are also joint and ligamentous disorders.

The low-calorie diet, in addition to reducing overweight – indirectly lowering both the risk of onset and the severity of metabolic diseases – also has a direct effect on physiological parameters (e.g., blood and hemodynamic parameters) as indicators of the state of health. This means that because the low-calorie diet is balanced. It can reduce:

  • both LDL and total (sometimes increasing that of HDL) cholesterol
  • triglycerides
  • blood glucose
  • blood pressure
  • uricemia and improve other blood counts such as systemic inflammation parameters

All this, even if it is not losing weight. Ultimately, the low-calorie diet is a food therapy that applies ONLY to overweight subjects. To improve quality and life expectancy (by reducing the risk of adverse events) by reducing fat mass (especially visceral mass) and the restoration of optimum physiological parameters. The low-calorie diet should also be associated with motor therapy and, only if necessary, pharmacological treatment.

How To Structure It

Hypocaloric diet: a real puzzle

Of course, readers will have already wondered what the motives for discrimination between a qualified professional and a self-taught improviser are. From a technical and methodological point of view, computer science is now working wonders. A low-calorie diet can therefore be achieved by automation and in just a few minutes. To put it in perspective, one might ask why there are no AUTONOMOUS “musical composition” machines. In all fields, the car can replace man only in computation, but not in reasoning.

Let’s say the low-calorie diet is very similar to a “puzzle” or the famous “Tetris” video game (I can say the two similarities that are not “specific”), whose pieces or segments represent: physical characteristics, therapeutic need, habits, and lifestyle, propensity, availability and willpower of the subject. Furthermore, each part or segment is further structured and defined by many other mathematical equations and evaluations. This method could be automated at this level, too; it is sufficient to assign a value on a numerical scale to each evaluation parameter. It’s a little bit like estimating the vascular risk. So why not?

Simple. The answer is: “The first objective of a nutritional therapist who prescribes a low-calorie diet is that it is applied and followed correctly”; In one word: “compliance.” Compliance with the low-calorie diet is always the result (or compromise, depending on the point of view) of an abstract formula that is NOT mathematically evaluable, whose variables are:

  • Patient-operator relationship (trust, honesty, empathy, ability to talk, listening and understanding, communication, intuition, astuteness, ability to drive motivation, etc.)
  • Accuracy and accuracy of the method
  • Personalization.

Some advise

This is not a free complication; just think that, it would be pointless to:

  • Gain the patient’s trust and motivation to lose it by assigning them an ineffective or impractical low-calorie diet;
  • Provide a technically perfect low-calorie diet if the patient were not motivated or rejected, in disgust, the foods which make it happen;
  • Prescribe a hypocaloric diet composed of all the most appreciated foods, but that at the end of the day proves to be ineffective. Even if entirely perfect, it cannot enjoy the right motivation/confidence of the customer.

The psychological profile and the patient’s behavior emphasize in a completely subjective manner. This is why two different subjects (although having in common the exact nutritional needs) will very unlikely to be assigned the same low-calorie diet.

Of course, the core and INDEPENDENT requirements of the low-calorie diet remain health, nutrition education, and nutritional balance. The professional needs to know how to shape the diet, ensuring the therapeutic objective, and respecting the professional deontological code.

The ability to interpret all these variables (but not only) is the difference between the different professionals and explains. Because NOT ALL patients get the same results with the same operator, and why everyone prefers a technician and a low-calorie diet rather than others.

A machine cannot do all of this. Therefore, a pseudo-professional does not have the technical and methodological knowledge sufficient to understand the objectives (as well as the therapeutic priorities) of the patient. And thus is indiscriminately relied on automation, can do nothing but do a PESSIOUS work.

Let’s be clear.

It is not difficult to make people lose weight, and sometimes even to reduce their:

  • cholesterol
  • triglycerides
  • blood glucose
  • and blood pressure

However, the performance needs to be assessed as a whole. Also, fit in an excellent low-calorie diet:

  • deficiency in nutrition and possible need to supplement with medicines/supplements
  • psychological stress
  • preservation of social habits
  • possible relapse of the disease (index of lack of food education)
  • fatigue in organs
  • the occurrence of symptoms or discomfort of various kinds, etc.

Nutritional Balance

Nutritional balance of the hypocaloric diet: composition problems

The reader will now be aware that formulating a correct hypocaloric diet is NOT an easy task. Even from a technical and methodological point of view, it takes a long time, thorough chemical knowledge of the various foods, experience in food associations, etc. Sometimes it is challenging to reach the necessary nutrients in the more restrictive low-calorie diets. Those to be assigned to people:

  • with serious disabilities
  • those who are bedridden
  • the elderly
  • sedentary
  • with a tiny physical structure
  • Those who are obese and need rapid weight loss and are not in the ordinary, etc.

Among the molecules/ions whose daily “dose” is more difficult to achieve, we recognize:

  • Iron (especially in pregnant and fertile women),
  • calcium (especially in the elderly and children),
  • ω-3 essential fatty acids in the family (especially in non-fish eaters),
  • vitamin B2 (especially in lactose intolerant people and those who do not consume milk and dairy products),
  • folate (especially in subjects who do not consume fresh vegetables),
  • vitamin B12 (especially in vegan subjects),
  • vitamin D (in all low-calorie diets and especially in healthy and elderly subjects),
  • dietary fiber (especially in diets against hyperglycemia and type 2 diabetes mellitus) etc.

Among the most challenging molecules/ions to contain/reduce in the low-calorie diet

we recognize:

  • saturated fatty acids (especially in subjects that eat butter and not oil),
  • cholesterol (especially in subjects who eat eggs, aged cheese, and offal widely),
  • sodium (especially in subjects who consume preserved products widely),
  • simple sugars (in all low-calorie diets),
  • proteins (in all low-calorie diets BUT with increased interest when suffering from liver or, in some cases, kidney disease),
  • purine (only in the presence of an inherited metabolic disorder that leads to hyperuricemia or proclaimed gout),
  • lactose (in intolerant subjects),
  • gluten (in biased subjects).

In conclusion, having to choose “for health,” I suggest to readers to address qualified and possibly specialized professionals in the weight loss of the obese and the treatment of metabolic diseases; Fewer fashion diets and more awareness!

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