What’s with fad diets?

You’ve seen it: “Lose 10 pounds in 2 days!” or how about the “Eat only apples for 3 days and lose 20 pounds” guarantee? What is with fad diets and why are we so susceptible to believe that something like this can be healthy for us.

So what exactly is a fad diet? A fad diet is a diet that promises quick weight loss through what is usually an unbalanced and unhealthy diet. Think about it: eating only apples for 3 days can’t be good for your body. So why are we liable to believe these diets work? More importantly, why are we willing to risk our health for these diets?

Fad diets are usually targeted at people who want to lose weight quickly with very minimal work involved. Many of these diets are literally setting people up to fail. If a diet or product used for weight loss sounds too good to be true, it’s probably because it is. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you will not successfully lose weight and keep the weight off without putting some work in! There are no foods or pills that are going to magically burn fat. There is no product that will miraculously melt fat while you watch TV or sleep. We live in such a weight-focused society that it’s not surprising that millions of people fall prey to fad diets. There is a lot of money to be made in the fad diet industry. It’s no wonder that these so called “experts” can convince even the most informed consumers that these diets will work.

So how do you recognize a fad diet? Steer clear of any diets that make the following claims:

No Need to Exercise:

Physical activity is essential for healthy weight management and overall good health. Not only will exercise provide you with physical changes, you will also notice mental changes. The secret to a successful exercise program is to find physical activities that you enjoy and then aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity most days of the week.

Specific Food Combinations:

Ever heard of the beer and sausage diet? Basically a 44-year-old man went from 195 to 177 pounds in 30 days consuming an average of about 1,500 calories a day—mostly from high-quality sausage and craft ale. The key here wasn’t the food combination of sausage and beer, his weight loss also had a lot to do with the fact that he was only eating 1,500 calories a day. There is no evidence that combining certain foods or eating foods at specific times of day will help with weight loss. Eating the “wrong” combinations of food doesn’t cause them to turn to fat immediately or to produce toxins in your intestines, as some plans claim.

Rapid Weight Loss:

Slow and steady wins the race. Slow, steady weight loss is more likely to last than dramatic weight changes. Healthy plans aim for a loss of no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week. If you lose weight quickly, you’ll lose muscle, bone density and water. You can also experience an imbalance of electrolytes, malnutrition, gallstones and dehydration, fatigue, irritability, headaches, constipation, dizziness, irregular menstruation, loss of muscle and loss of hair. You are also more likely to have excess skin due to the fact that your body didn’t have enough time to adjust to your rapid loss.

Quantities and Limitations

Not only will you get bored of a diet that only consists of cabbage and chicken broth it can also be extremely damaging to your body. A fad diet that has extreme food limitations can often do more harm than good. Your body relies on healthy nutrients, and depriving your body of these nutrients can be extremely damaging. Even if you are to take a multivitamin, you will still be missing out on some critical nutrients.

We get that losing weight is hard, but anything worth having takes work.

The only thing that is going to help you lose weight and keep the weight off is a lifestyle change. Small steps are key. A small change today can make a huge change in your future!