Going to the diet extreme

Dorcas Mshayisa, 32, says when she turned 30 her waistline unexpectedly expanded and she's gone from a comfortable size 34 to size 36, and depending on the cut and the outfit, sometimes she wears a size 38.

Before gaining weight, Dorcas worked out at the gym but unexpectedly quit and that's when her waistline expanded. Unfortunately for Dorcas, desperate times called for desperate measures, so when a friend introduced her to weight loss "Chinese tea" she saw an easy way out.

"I used it for a year and it stopped me from gaining weight, but didn't help me lose any."

Since she stopped drinking the tea, Dorcas says her weight situation hasn't improved either. She's put on more weight, resorted to walking three times a week and doing stomach exercises but she's yet to see the results. Now she's using appetite suppressants. "I travel a lot for work and the only options for food a lot of the time is junk food in which case I'd rather not eat."

Dangerous side effects
Clinical dietician Tabitha Hume says Dorcas's "tea" is a bowel stimulant in the guise of a weight loss remedy and its side effects are dangerous.

"Using bowel stimulants will not lead to much weight loss, contrary to popular belief. Most of the weight lost, if there is any, is water and is usually replaced as soon as you drink something."

The second reason people need to stay away from these types of weight loss remedies, says Hume, is that they lead to water and muscle loss, which slows down your metabolism. "A lot of these so-called weight loss remedies contain guarana, ephedrine or caffeine, or other central nervous stimulants, which may decrease appetite but their side effects include nausea, tremors, an irregular heartbeat, insomnia, dependency, headaches, mood swings and even depression.

If you are like Dorcas and constantly find yourself repeatedly losing and gaining weight you are also in danger of ruining your metabolism.

"Each time you starve the body of food, the body burns up fat and muscle to convert this to energy for it to keep going. The result of this is that the body loses muscle mass and this means a lower metabolism and once you start eating properly again, your metabolism is slower and cannot cope with the calorie onslaught.

"Besides the fact that the weight will most probably come back quickly, yo-yo dieting raises the body’s fat percentage and results in insulin resistance. And insulin resistance, if untreated, can develop into diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems and infertility," warns Hume.

Can you relate to Dorcas's weight loss dilemma? Share your advice in the box below.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE