If any of the diets you have tried in the past fell into any of these categories, there’s a good chance it was a fad diet.
1. Diet promises you will lose lots of weight in one week with little effort
2. Diet fails to mention disclaimers or recommend doctors consultation prior to dieting
3. Diet suggests you eliminate entire food groups from your eating plan such as carbohydrates or dairy or vegetables
4. Diet restricts you to a set eating plan without considering what your preferences are, in other words lack of flexibility setting you up to fail
5. Diet fails to reinforce good health habits and lifestyle changes
6.Diet reduces your eating to less calories than you can healthily function on
7. Diet goes against sound medical information
8. Diet is dependent upon certain supplements, diets or products to be effective
9. Diet makes over the top, unrealistic claims
10. Diet has lack of scientific proof that it works and why it does
Sound familiar? Most diets you see fall into these categories. They rely on doing something drastic just to differentiate themselves from other diets whether that be eliminating entire food groups, eating certain foods on certain days, eating only one color of food or eating only one kind of food for days at a time.
Fad diets all have the same thing in common. The solution to weight loss they offer is only ever a temporary band aid quick fix to a problem that has been years in the making. Once the diet ceases the lost weight quickly returns. When this happens it is more often than not that fluid not fat was lost in the first place which is why it is gained back so quickly.
None of these diets are sustainable. You simply cannot survive on them. The thing that makes you lose weight is the difficulty of adhering to such a strict diet in the first place. You go off your food because of the lack of variety and that is what makes you lose weight, or do you?
Fad diets are extreme ways to drop weight quickly but the results are not permanent, you just lose fluid and muscle and not fat so not only are you not losing the fat you wanted to but you are damaging your health in the process. Any diet that eliminates entire food groups is not good for you.
We have a variety of foods to eat for a reason, because we need them for our nutrients and it is only those foods that can provide them, to eliminate them means that we can become vitamin deficient. To cut out one or more food groups is setting yourself up for disaster and harmful to your overall health.
A Closer Look At Fad Diets
The Atkins Diet, The Cabbage Diet, The Beverly Hills Diet, The Zone Diet, The South Beach Diet and sadly lots, lots more...
The Atkins Diet
This diet has been known to be effective for weight loss. Subjects who have participated in this program usually see quick results within a week. Participants have been known to lose between 1 and 2 kgs straight out of the gate by increasing the amount of meat in their daily diet.
Well meat believe it or not is quite filling and acts as an appetite suppressant causing you to eat less for starters. It also encourages your body to burn fat in the absence of sugar. Because you are not consuming vast amounts of sugars by restricting your carbohydrate intake consumption, you burn fat.
Fat is not the only thing you burn, the Atkins diet does not actively promote exercise, you are given the premise that you can lose the weight without having to do any exercise. While you may still lose weight you are also losing precious muscle tissue. It’s the building of this muscle tissue that actually burns the fat you are so desperately trying to rid yourself of.
You are restricting entire food groups, foods that you need for a healthy body. Carbohydrates such as breads, grains, rice, and pasta actually help to add volume and mass to your colon and aids in cleaning out the bowels. This is why a diet high in protein, cheese and eggs can cause constipation and bad breath.
Diets high in proteins have been linked to certain cancers. Nobody knows for sure what the long term health effects the Atkins diet will have will have on the body, but time will tell. Don’t sacrifice your overall health for the purpose of losing weight. There are better ways to losing weight while keeping your sanity.
In a recent study, over 40% of participants dropped out within their first year of being on the Atkins program. The reasons were that the program was too restrictive.
On a more positive note, those who did participate lost an overall average of 7 kgs during their first six months, however near the end of the year that amount dropped down to a 4.5 kgs average weight loss.
The results for nearly half of participants was not permanent because people don’t like being deprived of the foods they enjoy eating which is why they cannot sustain long term success on diets such as these.
More often than not the weight will be gained back within a few months because participants will slip back into old habits and go back to enjoying the foods they loved prior to starting the diet.
It’s not their fault it’s just the way the body is designed. It was not designed for elimination of entire food groups or eating too much of one particular group. As I mentioned before your body is hardwired for survival and will stop at nothing to preserve you at all costs even if that includes derailing your current diet.
Low Carbohydrate Diets – Why They Are Bad For You
What diets that are low in carbohydrates do is they severely limit your carbohydrate which is the bodies preferred fuel source. Your body has an absence of carbs to burn so instead, it burns fat.
Embarking on extreme diets like these will see a drop in weight but you may not want to live without your favourite foods for the long haul. That is what makes it difficult to stick to these types of diets.
Eliminating carbohydrates restricts the vitamins and minerals you get from that food group such as from brown rice, whole wheats, whole grains, beans, pastas, vegetables, etc. These are carbohydrates that are good for you and give a slow release of sugar into the bloodstream which keeps your energy levels stable. Whole grains that you find in oats are also beneficial for your health. It is known that the whole grain found in oats lowers dangerous LDL (low density protein) cholesterol in your blood.
Unless you love meat and dairy diets like these can lead to a lack of variety causing dieters to stray.
Diets Low In Fat
Despite what you might think low fat diets aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Every human being, even if you’re Victoria Beckham, needs a certain amount of fat in their diet. You need this for your body to function efficiently. Fat insulates your organs and gives them separation from other neighbouring organs. Fat also coats your nerve cells and protects them deterioration. Fat is also involved in your body’s important biochemical reactions so having some fat in your diet is important within the limits of reason and what is healthy.
Fat also promotes normal brain cell function, it regulates hormones, immune system operation. Assists with haemoglobin oxygen transport, proper cell wall function, transporting and absorbing cell nutrients, etc. Fat is essential in our daily diets.
These particular diets are very popular because the train of thought is that if you consume less fat the less fat you will gain. Makes sense doesn’t it? After all, fat is very calorie dense.
Before venturing into a diet like this there are couple of things that you need to remember, that not all fats are created equal.
Not all fats are bad, there are good fats and bad fats.
Here’s what I mean...
These fats tend to be the saturated fat and of the trans fat variety. There is a link between saturated fats and cardiovascular heart disease, it is this type of fat that raises your cholesterol levels. It usually exists in diets that are high in animal fats which is why the Atkins and low carb diet models aren’t usually the best kind.
If your diet is high in cholesterol, fats deposit themselves on your arterial walls restricting blood flow to your heart and to your body. Your heart then has a tougher job of pumping blood to the rest of your body which increases your blood pressure.
Your heart may also increase in size to force the blood through your arteries causing serious conditions such as cardiomegaly (enlargement of the heart). Through blood pressure increase comes kidney damage and damage to the smaller capillaries in your eyes causing eventual reduction in eyesight and possible blindness if blood pressure is not controlled.
Trans fatty acids are amongst the worst kind of fat to have in high quantities in your diet. Fats or oils that have partial hydrogenation are more than likely to be trans fatty. This type of fat lowers the amount of healthy cholesterol (HDL – high density lipoproteins) which throws the system out of balance by increasing the amount of bad cholesterol present.
These manmade fats are becoming more and more common, especially in fast food restaurants. Australia has put a restriction on the amount of trans fatty acids allowed in margarine whilst other countries like Denmark have outlawed this killer ingredient altogether.
In their basic building block form they are simply known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They play several important roles in hormone production and help to aid in proper cell function.
These types of fats contain Omega-3 fatty acids, fish is a source rich in this fat. Omega-3 has been known to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke. If you want to preserve your health for the long term then you should make fish and fish oils a regular part of your diet.
Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig
The reason why these diets are so popular and have stood the test of time is because they offer support to their clients. Losing weight is not always easy and to have the support of others increases the likelihood of staying on the program in the long run. That emotional support keeps you going longer.
The success of these programs not only comes from their support but in the case of Jenny Craig they promote portion controlled meals with reduced fat and sugar content. You can basically eat your favourites but just to watch how much you eat. A more realistic way to eat that is in alignment with how you would probably eat in the real world.
Weight Watchers rely upon a points system. Each day you get a certain number of points to consume and each food is worth a certain number of points. You can trade points for example if you want to have dessert you can trade that for your one of your meals instead so that you can have your cake and eat it too without blowing your calories for the day.
Bottom line. Avoid fad diets. You won’t be able to realistically stay on them for the long term and you won’t experience long term weight loss results. If it falls into any of the categories above, chances are it’s a fad diet.
So what draws us to them? It’s the allure of quick results with very little effort. We live in an instant gratification society, we want everything now with little work. If you want anything worthwhile in life, it will always require effort. In fact the reward is only proportional to the amount of effort invested.
Weight loss is no different. If you want to lose weight you have to earn it, it’s going to take some work, but think of all the benefits you get back in return. They far outweigh any sacrifice. Your life is worth it don’t you think?
To have a balanced diet we need to eat from all of the food groups because we gain all of our nutrients and vitamins from each of these four groups.
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My name is Dave Hagger, founder of Seriously Fit Bootcamp
As a fitness professional I frequently meet people who want to lose weight but just have no idea where to start.