21 Aug Why “Fad Diets” Don’t Work
If you’re a person who has tried one of these diets in the past or is currently doing one, don’t worry; you are not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people try these “miracle” diets every year, but always seem to go right back to where they were before they started. Why is that? I’m certain you lost weight initially, but did you keep all that weight off a few weeks or months after stopping the diet? Even worse, did you end up putting back on MORE weight than from the weight you started at? This is common and there is a simple solution for it; fad diets do not produce long-term weight loss and they set you up for weight regain. Let’s go more in detail as to why people all around the world start these diets, lose weight, and then usually gain it all back, plus more, once they stop.
I’ve got news for you; there is no miracle food, magic pill, or juice potion that will help you lose weight and keep it off long-term. When you initially begin one of these diets, you will definitely lose weight, but it’s not because the way you’re now eating is “magical” for weight loss. These fad diets are all low-calorie diets, and if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. It’s that simple. When you stop following one of these diets, you usually gain back the weight and feel discouraged. Sound familiar? It’s because the feeling of failure sets in when you feel like you “gave up” on the diet, so you fall back into your unhealthy ways. However, you shouldn’t feel discouraged when you give up on these diets. They basically set you up for weight regain. You cannot stay on these crazy low-calorie diets your entire life. When you decide to go on a very strict, low calorie diet, and you stay on it for a long period of time, your body thinks it is starving and will slow down the metabolism to adjust. Our bodies are very smart. The problem here is (strictly talking nutrition), when you go back to eating a normal amount of food, your metabolism doesn’t adjust, so now you need to eat fewer calories than before – this is also known as the “yo-yo syndrome”.
Any diet that rejects another food group is also a diet that is not sustainable long-term, like the grapefruit diet or the lemon juice diet. You will be missing out on vital vitamins, minerals, and certain macronutrients that your body needs to function optimally. Staying on these diets can cause health risks long-term and I mean, seriously, how many grapefruits can you really eat?
If the diet sounds too good to be true, that’s because it usually is! If you’ve seen, “Lose 20 lbs. in just one month with this new magic formula!” please understand that it is an absolute scam and that you should not partake in it! There is no secret to losing weight. It is basic science. If you consume more calories than you expend, you will gain weight. If you consume the same amount of calories that you expend, you will maintain your weight. And as said before, if you consume fewer calories than you expend, you will lose weight. It really is that simple. The problem with most people is that they want everything quick, right now! They don’t want to spend months eating healthy and changing their lifestyle, which will absolutely work for gradual, sustainable weight loss and won’t set you up for weight regain later down the road.
If you are one who has tried these crazy “cleanses” out there, don’t worry; you are also not alone. Millions of people try these juice cleanses, colonics, liver flushes, and all kinds of nonsense that they read about in the tabloids because they think they should “flush” out their system. I have news for you. This is complete rubbish! We have organs in our body, like the liver and kidney, whose primary functions are to cleanse our bodies of toxic wastes. Almost all cleanses lack scientific evidence to support them, so until someone shows me legitimate scientific studies that back the claims these cleanses make, I will not support them. Most of the claims that these cleanses make are an increase in energy, better sleep, clearing the body of poisons, weight loss, and prevention of diseases, however, there is zero scientific evidence backing these claims and here is another thing most people who do these cleanses don’t think about; when starting any cleanse, you also usually follow a set of guidelines such as (generalizing): drinking more water everyday, decreasing alcohol and caffeine intake (both produce toxins in the body), less refined and processed foods, and eating more vegetables and fruits everyday. I will make the bold statement that it is THESE FACTORS (just previously listed) that are the main reason you experience more energy, weight loss, decreasing risk of disease, and better sleep, and not the “cleanse” itself. Seems to me that you are just changing your lifestyle to a more balanced, nutrient-dense way of eating. Check out what Pamela Peeke, MD, chief medical correspondent for the Discovery Health channel had to say about it, “All the flushes and cleanses are pure nonsense, unnecessary, and there is no scientific basis for these recommendations. Your body is well equipped with organs, such as the liver and kidneys, and the immune system, to rid itself of potential toxins and does an excellent job of cleaning itself without needing flushes or cleanses.” Please stop with this nonsense already and adopt a healthy lifestyle of eating whole foods with a solid macronutrient, vitamin, and mineral profile coupled with weekly physical activity. I assure you, this will work in the long run and no cleanses or “miracle dieting” strategies will ever be needed.
I hope you are already putting it together; the best “diet” out there, is not a diet at all! You need to find the best way of eating healthy for you, one that fits your lifestyle, and one that will last long-term. Forget about “dieting”. Focus on eating more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and also include foods that you love to eat. This will make you feel like you are not restricting yourself and you won’t need to worry about bingeing or falling back into your old ways. This is also why the method of IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) is a great way of adopting a healthy lifestyle and prevents those bingeing episodes that competitors and people all around the world are guilty of. Make small, gradual improvements in your lifestyle and work on one of your weaknesses every week or month. If you know that you are one of those people who have a sweet tooth at night, try substituting the candy for some fruit. If you know that you consume too much alcohol on the weekends and that is the reason for your weight gain or lack of progress, cut down on the amount of drinks you have and keep yourself accountable. You have to find out for yourself what the reasons are for your weight gain, and then address them. You are only as strong as your weakest link.
Paul Hovan Jr., B.S., NASM CPT, CSN