The baby food diet. The tapeworm diet (yes, tapeworm). The stapling-your-ear diet. It almost seems if you can think it up, it is out there. Weight loss is such a lucrative industry, many people do what they can to create a money-making diet. It is your responsibility to do your homework, avoid fad diets, and look to lose weight in healthier ways.
What Defines Fad Diets
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center defines fad diets as “…a diet that promises quick weight loss through what is usually an unhealthy and unbalanced diet. Fad diets are targeted at people who want to lose weight quickly without exercise.”
As a general rule, it is best to steer clear of diets that:
- Claim you can lose weight very quickly (more than one pound a week).
- Offer endorsements from clients or experts.
- Require an output of money.
- Do not offer balanced nutrition.
- Claim that eating certain foods together helps weight loss.
- Show you before-and-after photos.
- Promise you’ll lose weight without exercise.
Reasons to Avoid Fad Diets
Gain Weight Back
You have heard the claim: “Lose weight quickly, simply, and don’t lift a finger.” Doctors and nutritionists are tired of repeating the only way to properly lose weight and keep it off is by making lifestyle changes (healthy diet and regular exercise). Fad diets do not keep weight off in the long run.
Deficiencies in Key Nutrients
Fad diets restrict certain types of food, e.g. carbohydrates. This creates nutritional deficiencies. Depriving yourself of carbs deprives you of a primary energy source. Depriving yourself of fats cuts off good fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential.
You can interfere with your natural metabolism when you follow an overly structured food schedule. Your body has a built in monitor, which indicates hunger and satiation. Ignoring your body can harm your metabolism.
Muscle Loss, Hair Loss
Fad diets can cause nutritional deficiencies that may lead to health conditions such as hair and muscle loss. You need protein for hair growth. And your body needs enough calories to prevent it from taking calories from your muscles.
Most Do Not Meet Recommendations of the American Heart Association
The AHA outlines recommended levels of fat in specific diets. Fad diets rarely follow AHA guidelines. For instance, low carb diets are high in fat intake. No one wants a diet (if sustained for a long period) that could lead to heart disease.
Healthy Weight Loss
If you want to lose weight in a healthy manner, it comes down to math: You must burn more calories than you consume. (One pound equals 3,500 calories.)
Most people want to do this quickly, thus the diet industry.
But those who lose weight steadily are more successful at keeping weight off. And science backs this claim. Weight loss isn’t a diet, it is a lifestyle that incorporates healthier ingredients, exercise, and eating habits.