It can be so tempting, when trying to lose weight, to go on a highly restrictive diet to get rid of those extra pounds as quickly as possible. So many new diets claim they are easy to follow while producing quick, life changing results. However, many fad diets are actually just that - fads. Many have been seen to be bad for a person and detrimental in the long term to achieving ultimate weight loss goals.
But why are diets fads bad? And why don’t they work?
Most fad diets will suffer from at least one, if not all, of the following problems.
Many fad diets are so restrictive that you put your body at risk of suffering from nutritional deficiencies. Take the popular Atkins diet for example. By severely restricting the body’s intake of carbohydrates - including not being able to eat many fruits as a result - its ability to ingest vitamins and minerals it needs to function are that much less.
Plus, carbohydrates are one of the main ways that the body gets its energy to function. Followers of the diet often say that they feel lethargic and that will often be from not having enough of this important energy resource in their meals.
Perhaps one of the most counterintuitive ideas to take on board with fad diets is that they commonly lead to longer term weight gain. The reason being is that when a person stops the restrictive diet - having lost the weight they want - they start eating normally again, they pile the weight back on and then more.
This is because they have not actually got to the root cause of why they put on weight in the first place. Therefore by returning to that way of eating, they are always going to put on weight.
Further reading: Your 10 Step Guide To Choosing The Perfect Diet
The flip side of a restrictive diet that claims it makes losing weight easy, is that the majority of the time they are totally unsustainable.
Consider the cabbage soup diet. Eating cabbage soup for the rest of your life is not a plausible option. Your body simply would not function properly and you would also find that you are mentally unhappy as food so often acts as enjoyment in our lives. So you are always going to return to old ways of eating which is why you put weight on initially.
So, again, you will put on weight in the longer term.
Finally, one of the reasons that fad diets are bad for you is that the weight you lose is not fat. Instead, the scales say you are losing weight because all you are very often losing is water weight.
That’s because fad diets do not go to the crux of the problem - which is that overeating has caused the body to store the extra energy as fat. It is why so many dieticians, when helping customers lose weight, advocate eating a healthy, balanced diet as well as leading an active lifestyle. Doing so will ensure the weight you lose is fat, not water.
Bearing in mind that fad diets are not a long term solution to losing weight, what can be done instead? Here is what dietitians recommend when trying to follow that aforementioned healthy balanced diet.
Eating a variety of foods is an easy way to start dieting in an unfaddy way. One of the reasons it is so helpful to eating healthily is that your taste buds are interested and satiated, meaning you do not go off in search of other foods that are full of sugar and bad fats. However, cooking a variety of foods can be tricky - especially in a time strapped life that we often all lead.
Using meal kit delivery services is massively beneficial when trying to vary your diet as so much of the hassle of food preparation is taken out for you. You can quickly choose a wide range of meals to eat each week, and all that food is sent straight to your door.
Another easy win when it comes to dieting the unfaddy way is simply to eat an appropriate amount of food. We are all guilty of overindulging on occasion, but if we do that consistently over a long period of time, that will result in weight gain. Many people who are trying to lose weight will therefore benefit from eating smaller portions - or simply portions that are the right size for your weight and height.
The problem is, not many people know what a portion size is, which is another reason that many overeat. Again, this is why meal kit delivery services are really helpful when trying to lose weight as they deliver the amount of food you need to make a portion controlled recipe.
Finally, only eating when hungry is another quick way to stop eating too much which is causing you to gain weight. In fact, only eating when hungry will mean you should lose weight over time as you are only ever eating what your body needs. Many food experts will therefore advocate eating when you feel at about 7 on the hunger scale. 10 being ravenous.
The reason that they do not recommend getting to 10 is that you are often so hungry by this point that you then go on to eat too much again. Hitting a 7 means you are still able to function without a gnawing hunger in your tummy, but not at risk of binging as soon as food is put in front of you.
Fad diets can be so detrimental to a person’s health in the long term. Not only have they been shown to cause longer term weight gain, the implications on the body suffering from nutritional deficiencies cannot be underestimated - nor can the hit on a person’s mental health.
By severely restricting a person’s diet, they often become so focussed on food that their relationship with eating becomes altered negatively. Instead of seeing food as fuel for the body, they become to see it as something that can do their body harm.
If you have found yourself to be overweight, and you want to shed some pounds, doing it slowly but surely will be far more effective overall.