You see it all the time on magazine covers—celebrities losing 8kg in only 4 weeks, and inside you can find out their secrets. But are their tips really going to work for you, or are they just a fad? And if it is, how do you spot a fad diet?
What is a fad diet?
A fad diet is one that promotes itself as being healthy and promising quick weight loss through restrictive eating plans, though often lacks scientific evidence to back up its method.
Tell-tale signs of a fad diet:
Most fad diets have a few things in common, and here’s what to look out for to know this diet probably doesn’t deliver all it promises.
Rapid weight loss in short time frames
If the diet is promising more than 1kg weight loss per week, in the long run it may be detrimental to your body. Losing weight this quickly is likely to be muscle and fluid loss, rather than actual fat loss. It will not be sustainable long term.
Rigid plans that do not allow deviation
If the diet is promoting strict, hard to live by eating plans, it’s not likely it won’t work. Sure, you may have enough willpower to stick to the plan for a few weeks, but beyond that, rigid plans are not sustainable. You will feel like a failure if you are unable to stick with it, and generally reach for sugary treats like lollies for a quick pick me up.
Elimination of certain foods
Fad diets tend to cut out whole, and often very important food groups, particularly dairy and/or grains. Of cause avoiding these foods is going to result in weight loss initially, as they make up close to half of your daily food intake. Starting out you may be motivated to only eat a tonne of veggies daily, so low in calories that the additional protein you are eating does keep you full. Long term, this is not not sustainable and the hunger kept at bay by those high fibre foods will return with a vengeance.
Avoiding food groups or knowing there are ‘off limits’ foods often result in cravings.Ultimately you will end up binging on them, which also leaves you feeling like a failure.
Promising you don’t need to exercise too
I recommend staying away from diets that do not include 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. We need to move and use our muscles to foster muscle growth, which in turn aids fat loss. The more we use our muscle, the more energy you burn too, which is what weight loss is about!
Inclusion of powders or potions
Definitely be weary if your new diet requires you to take powders,replacement drinks and even tea several times daily, particularly if you have to pay for them too. You have to stop and ask yourself the questions – what is actually in themand why are they costing so much?
If you have a well balanced diet you will get all the nutrients you need,unless you have a rare absorption issue. If the concoction of pills, potions or powders promise to speed up your metabolism and help you burn more calories, it is to help counteract the fact that restricting your intake so heavily has the opposite effect. The only benefit is the placebo effect does work. If you believe you are taking something that is working, it works because you believe in it. If you have to pay through the roof for it, then is it really worth it?
Ultimately, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Fad diets often set you up to fail and you believe it is your fault. The lack of variety becomes mundane and you can only following their rigorous meal regime for so long and when you ‘fail’ you usually break the diet on the ‘banned’ foods.
Really, though, the diet is what failed you! It wasn’t easy to follow, you felt restricted and hungry and it may have also cost you a lot of money too having to get strange ingredients you had never heard of. By constantly dieting and drastically cutting back your food intake, the end result is a slower metabolism, which certainly does not help weight loss. When you go back to your ‘normal’ eating you regain the weight with interest as your metabolism can not longer afford the eat the quantities it used to!
A good diet is one you can stick to and one that works for you! Speak with a dietitian about a meal plan that will suit you and your life and your situation, not try and fit to someone else’s mould. Life is not one size fits all and nor if your diet.