Are you hangry?

That's hunger plus anger. If you are a serial dieter, you must be. Expert advice on how to get the scales to swing in your favour

Diets are possibly the longest lasting fad since The Backstreet Boys, but perhaps it's time we begged the ubiquitous question: Are they doing us more harm than good? (Diets, not The Backstreet Boys!)

A recent study done in the UK found that when the brain is starved of food, brain cells actually resort to cannibalism and eat each other, which might also explain why most of our efforts to diet are destined for failure, never mind our reserves of will power.

Dietitian Shilpa Mittal says that a large part of the problem has to do with our definition of the term, 'diet' itself. "Dieting has become synonymous with starving one's body of certain nutrients, if not all. This naturally leads to deficiencies in the body from B-12 to Iron."

That's not all. Jennifer Dhuri, RB dietitian and consultant, believes that the psychological effects of dieting include mood swings and that depression could also stem from the 'desperate' mindset in people looking for a quick-fix solution to their weight woes. 

Weight loss from following fad diets, however, is more likely to be a result of muscle loss or water loss, instead of fat loss, which is key to achieving a healthy weight in the long run. "Diets can actually be a wonderful way to boost immunity, increase metabolism, and initiate weight loss, which relieves people of other complications," says Dhuri, adding, "The trick is to follow a balanced diet under expert guidance, and to stop following celeb diets, as everyone's body is different!"

5 ways to stay sane on a diet

Have hot water with a squeeze of lemon juice, first thing in the morning. This prevents constipation and provides metabolism with an instant boost.

5 is better than 3. Break your food intake into five small meals spread throughout the day. Try eating every two hours to keep your metabolism going. A high metabolism rate equals more calories being burned.

Have a light dinner at least two hours before going to bed. This gives your body time to digest the food.

Eat before you shop. This way you're unlikely to feel tempted to buy and gorge on all the junk-a-licious goodies available.

Don't skip breakfast. This is the first meal of the day, and should provide you with enough fuel until lunch. It's a good time to pile your plate with slow-burning carbs, including oatmeal and wholegrain breads and cereals. It's also a good idea to include a fruit for its sugar and fibre content.

You don't want to eat like a 'star'. 3 reasons why

They may claim to have got that perfectly buff body by running behind their kids, despite scarfing down slices of pizza, but chances are they are not telling the truth.

The Laxative diet
A Britney Spears favourite, this is exactly what its name implies. Eat what you want, but don't forget to flush out your system with your daily laxative dose or by sipping on laxative tea. Assaulting your system in this way will ensure that your body is deprived of essential nutrients.

The Smokers' diet
Smoking cuts appetite. It also kills. Choice between lung cancer and the perfect body? Guess actresses like Katherine Heigl would rather deal with the former than an ounce of unwanted fat.

The Adderall diet
Adderall is medication prescribed for those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Side-effects include loss of appetite, which is why it's popular with celebs trying to lose weight. Other side-effects include mood swings.

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