One thing has always amazed me with the pushers of fad diets. They all claim to have found a break-through, a real-deal quick fix, or my personal favorite…the ONLY way to lose weight quickly! If all of these claims are true then we must be idiots to believe them. That would mean that we would have to blindly accept the facts of any given fad diet and completely disregard all of the sound principles of nutrition science that have been handed to us long ago before any of these non-sense diets ever came into existence.
As you know, I am an avid advocate of long term lifestyle change because I believe that it is the only way to accomplish long-term success. Don’t believe me? Well I am excited to share with you some statistics that may change your mind. My hope in doing so is that you might start to look at these fad diets in a different light than you have in the past.
Definition of Fad Diet:
This is somewhat of a subjective term, but this is an accurate definition. Fad Diets are aimed at rapid weight loss and disregard where the weight comes from (i.e., muscle, water, fat). Fad Diets usually have a time line associated with them and are highly restrictive in nature. They usually focus on the inclusion or exclusion of macronutrients (CHO/Pro/Fat). Fad Diets are usually hypo-caloric (low calorie) and focus on certain foods that they deem “good” or “bad”.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that at any given time two-thirds of all American adults are on a diet to either lose weight or prevent weight gain. Of those, 29 percent are men and 44 percent women. Yet only 5 percent of these dieters will be successful at keeping the weight that they lost off.
Guess what that means my friends? That means that a whopping 95% of fad diets fail in the long run! That is hardly a formula for success! Even more discouraging is the fact that the human body thoroughly despises gaining and losing weight in a cyclical fashion! The body prefers to be in a state of balance or homeostasis, and yo-yo dieting has been proven to pull the body squarely out of that balanced state. The result is a fluctuation of hormonal levels, cholesterol levels, vitamin and mineral balances and so forth.
A staggering 66% of Americans are either overweight or obese…this is after all of the diets having been tried and failed! I have a simple question for all of us Americans. When will we learn that weight loss and lifestyle change is NOT found in a pill, surgery, funky and faddish diets, or fat-burning shots?
A wise man once said, “Anything worth having will require a significant sacrifice of time, hard work, and determination”. I could not agree more my friends. You may be asking yourself, “Well how do I know how to spot the fad diets”. I personally think that common sense will take you a long way in this arena, but in the following will give you some valuable tips that you can use.
Putting your “Diets” under the “Diet Microscope”
1- Does the diet promote rapid weight loss?
Remember that the American College of Sports Medicine advocates weight loss of 1-2 lbs per week. The fact that we think this is “too slow” is an indication of our lack of understanding of true and healthy weight loss.
2-Does it exclude one macro-nutrient or promotes the excessive consumption of another?
In other words, if your diet is telling you to only consume protein and fat then the red flag should be raised. Remember that the body prefers a balance of carbs, protein, and fat. A healthy ratio is around 50% carbohydrate, 30% protein, and 20% fat.
3- Does the diet eliminate food groups?
The grapefruit diet is a perfect example of this, only advocating the consumption of grapefruit and other select foods. Remember that this is no hand and conclusive scientific data to back up any of these silly diets.
4-Are they “lifestyle sustainable”?
If you can’t imagine doing your “diet” for the rest of your life, then run for the hills! Remember that the ultimate goal of any nutritional regimen should be long-term and enjoyable. Healthy eating can accomplish weight loss, weight maintenance and healthy weight gain if you are creative and proactive in your approach.
5- Does it advertize weight loss without exercise?
Thank goodness this gimmick is fading a little, but it is still out there. If you ever hear this rest assured that the diet being advertized is bogus. The fact that they are advertizing this indicates that the product probably is taking weight loss from either muscle or water with only a minimum amount coming from fat…certainly a recipe for long-term disaster!
6- Does the diet restrict calories less than 1200 for women and 1500 for men?
Remember that muscle is an intricate part of the human metabolism…the more of it present on the human body, the more
7-Does the diet require additional supplements or sponsored company foods or pills?
Typically these companies will try to gain your trust and excitement through emotion-based advertizing. They want to get as much $ squeezed out of you as possible and if that means selling you expensive (and most of the time worthless) supplements to give you a placebo effect then so be it! Be vigilant and aware of these gimmicky-like techniques.
My suggestion is simple. Stay true to time tested healthy eating principles such as eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and with the correct balance of carbs, protein, and fat. Be consistent and you will eventually find yourself if a lifestyle sustaining habit that will serve you for the rest of your life. I know that is simple, and there is more to it, but suffice it to say that if you learn the basics and stay true to them you will make it much further that you ever would with all if the non-sense that is out there. Trying to re-invent the wheel with fad diets only serves to plunge that wheel deeper and deeper into an unhealthy and cumbersome lifestyle that will ultimately leave you fatter, more out of shape and more discouraged than you started.
Be good to yourselves and remember that life is good!