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Tanning and Weight Loss. Is that a Thing?

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You may not remember the cabbage soup diet or the grapefruit diet. You may not even remember the Atkins diet that took the world by storm in the early 2000s and then there was the Mediterranean diet, Keto, paleo, and of course the gluten-free revolution trying to convince everyone that gluten is the devil and everyone is apparently inherently gluten intolerant.

Let’s not forget intermittent fasting, detoxes, juicing… we could go on and on. But every few years there’s a new diet trend that promises to change your life.

What do all of these diets have in common? They are all fad diets, one of the most recent of which is Tanning and weight loss.


What is a fad diet?

Although fad diets have significantly changed over the years in terms of how they market them, they are all stylish weight loss plans that promise dramatic, quick results with minimal effort.


A little bit of knowledge is dangerous

Most of the more recent diet fads of the last few decades have a premise (loosely) based in science and promote these diets as being a ‘healthy lifestyle’, rather than just a means to weight loss. 

Herein lies the problem… a diet that is based (again, loosely) on science, lends it some perceived credibility. After all, it’s been PROVEN to work!

Maybe they didn’t read the fine print where it says their findings were proven on lab rats in a controlled setting. Or the results, however positive, were so negligible that it’s unlikely to make a difference.

Ah details, details…

At the end of the day, any scientific data can be used out of context to support whatever pitch you’re trying to sell. Especially when the people doing the science are the same people selling the thing.

Another danger of these “sciencey-based” diets is that a lot of them were formulated to target those with specific health problems. They are to be administered by a doctor or nutritionist with oversight to make sure that everything is going according to plan. They need to ensure they are being properly supplemented with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that whatever diet they’ve been put on to help control whatever ails them, is lacking in.

Most people read up random information about a paleo or vegan or Mediterranean diet and start following it without all the information and a lack of understanding of nutrition.


It’s all about the ‘lifestyle’

In the 1920’s “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet,” was a tag line on Lucky Strike advertising, explaining that smoking would result in “keep[ing] a slender figure.”

Now most of us would look at that and cringe at the thought of promoting smoking as a means of weight loss.

It seems so… ridiculous, and dangerous!

Back in the day – a ‘slender figure’ was what people were most concerned with. Without all the access to information about new scientific developments that we have at our fingertips today, they weren’t as informed when it came to health as we are now.

The marketing of fad diets reflects this modern-day awareness and has gone from ‘lose weight fast’ to promoting new fad diets as a “lifestyle choice”, a stylish and exclusive club to which you too, can become a member.

Grab your yoga pants and meet me at the café for an avo toast and some green juice…. oh and just make sure it’s gluten-free toast.


Why fad diets are dangerous

The popularity of fad diets is fueled by bestselling books, television talk shows, and celebrity endorsements that accompany them. It’s on-trend and EVERYONE is doing it, so it must be the answer.

What they don’t realize is that these diets can cause deficiencies, malnutrition, and other health issues because they don’t fully understand them. Everyone who is on one THINKS they do, of course, and will be more than happy to tell you all about it, if you are ever so unfortunate to be trapped in a conversation with nowhere to run.

It’s really quite surprising that with all of the money and effort chasing nutrition, we still don’t have a great grasp on what foods are truly healthy, what foods are truly unhealthy, and why people have been getting fatter year after year.

But that doesn’t stop people from guessing, and trying various ideas.

Like tanning for weight loss, for example!


Tanning and Weight loss

There was a study published a couple of years ago that found that the visible blue light from the sun that penetrates our skin reduces lipid droplets in size and releases them from the cell.

In other words, our cells don’t store as much fat.

Sounds great!

But there’s a bit more to it than that.

The Director of the Alberta Diabetes Institute and co-author of the study, Dr. Peter Light, warned: “the finding is only an initial observation and sunbathing is not a safe or recommended way to lose weight.”

He also went on to add that it is not clear how much of this light would be required or how long you would have to stay in the sun for this to happen.

While blue light and the associated vitamin D from UVB rays may help shed some fat and calories, it’s not worth much. Yes, there are benefits to sun exposure that are often forgotten when considering the (very significant) risks.

But really, you’d have much more success exposing your body to UVB rays while going for a run, rather than laying on the beach. You get both UV exposure and great cardiovascular exercise.

Win-win.

Getting all of the information isn’t always easy, but come on people, you need to use some common sense! Tanning is dangerous.


How dangerous is tanning?

According to the American Cancer Society, the vast majority of skin cancer deaths are from melanoma. The majority of melanoma cases are attributable to UV exposure.

And don’t even think about tanning beds – exposure to tanning beds increases the risk of all skin cancers, including melanoma, especially in women 45 and younger.

And we’re only talking about melanoma – this doesn’t include Basal cell carcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma, and Merkel cell cancer, which are also types of skin cancers you are more at risk of if you’re tanning.

If this sounds scary, then good.

Tanning to lose weight is like using a chainsaw to get a haircut or drinking insecticide because you think you have a tapeworm… and it’s just as nonsensical as smoking to lose weight.


Take Away

There are no shortcuts to losing weight. Tanning and weight loss is neither a smart, safe nor effective weight loss strategy.

If you have a medical condition that affects how your body metabolizes food, you should see your doctor formulate a weight loss plan that’s right for you based on your needs.

For everyone else who is looking to shed a few pounds and looking for the secret to weight loss – get off ass and eat less!

After all this time, it was never really a secret.

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