Quick fixes and fast solutions. That's what most people look for when it comes to weight loss. And it seems that just about every week there's a new crazy fad trend.
But why do we keep falling for this crap? I don't know, but what I can tell you, is why you should skip on them and how to actually lose weight the healthy way.
The truth behind fad diets
How can you determine if a new diet on the market is just another fad? Here are a few clous:
- The diet forces you to intensely cut back calories and/or cut out entire food groups
- You're allowed to only eat certain foods with very specific instructions
- Most of the foods you're allowed to eat are expensive "superfoods", bars, meal replacement drinks, powders and similar
- The products of the fad or the fad itself is endorsed by a celebrity or self-proclaimed "health or fitness guru"
- The diet claims it's better than all the others
- The diet claims it's "new"
Generally speaking, every diet program that promises a weight loss of 5 lbs (2 kg) per week is utter nonsense! Why? It's almost impossible - unless you weight A LOT - to lose so much fat every week. Nor is it healthy.
Yes, you will lose weight in a short period of time. But it's not all body fat, mostly water and muscle, which explains the rapid weight loss.
Basically, your metabolism adapts to the amount of energy you feed your body. Hence, you burn calories less quickly than usual to "survive" longer.
As soon as you go back to your normal eating behaviour, the water you've lost gets replaced, your muscles don't and you still burn less calories than you used to. Meaning, you'll most likely gain even more weight back, since it's now easier to eat more than you burn.
See, what might work in the short term doesn't translate to long-term success, good health and mental wellbeing.
Why they don't work
See, fad diets just don't work in the long run. They come and go as quickly as the new #1 hit on MTV.
The truth is, they don't teach you how to change your relationship to food, which might led to obesity in the first place.
Do you want to solve the problem, or merely fix the symptoms? Just fixing the symptoms usually means you're going to have to deal with the problem again a little further down the road.
They're too restrictive
A too restricted diet will most likely lead to binge eating, which is in some cases the reason for obesity. Even if you can maintain an extremely low calorie intake for a few days, sooner or later you will feel the effects of consistently underfeeding yourself.
The "Yo-Yo" effect
Restricting yourself to very few calories not only affects your body weight, but also your metabolism, hormones and health.
Being in a caloric deficit, hormonal adaption occurs, which might cause your body to burn less energy while at rest. Those hormones are leptin, ghrelin, thyroid hormones and testosterone. And yes, all of them are affected on a weight loss diet.
One of the worst things you can do after losing weight is to dramatically increase your caloric intake back to normal. Do this and you will gain even more back than you've lost.
They don't change your relationship to food
For many people when, why and how they eat food has to change before they can reach a healthy body weight.
Instead, fad diets will most likely worsen your relationship with food due to the creation of an artificial, unsustainable eating environment.
Figure out where your eating habits are out of control. When it comes to achieving long-term weight loss you have to make small lifestyle changes every day. Small changes will lead to big result which will last a lifetime.
They aren't nutritionally sound
Balance is so important and I just don't get it why so many people choose to restrict themselves. Healthy living should enable you to live a happy, fun and amazing life. That's the fuel your body and your soul needs. If you feel restricted on your diet, you restrict yourself from enjoying and embracing.
Plus, cutting out complete food groups can lead to nutritional deficiencies and hormone imbalances. Moreover, being on a too high caloric deficit for several days or even weeks will leave you drained.
Extremes are never healthy, remember that! In my opinion, cutting out foods you love isn't a good idea. A better way is to incorporate them into your diet as a treat every now and then.
You will lose muscle mass
Since they only encourage you to restrict your eating habits, they miss out on encouraging healthy exercise, such as weightlifting.
Without an adequate calorie intake and stimulation, your body doesn't build or hold onto muscles.
Furthermore, even on the best high protein diet, you'll lose some muscle mass, which burns most of your calories throughout the day, even with regular exercise. Hence, after a restrictive diet, you burn less calories on a normal day than you did before.
Remember, the more lean muscle tissue you have, the better is your metabolism, meaning you're burning more calories.
Your wallet will take a hit
All these meal replacement bars and shakes, supplements and other equipment you need will take it's toll on your wallet.
Stop spending ridiculous amounts of money on nonsense, when real whole food is so much better for your overall health! Think logically here. Why should a meal replacement bar provide you with more nutritional value than the actual food? Doesn't make sense, does it?
You'll most likely feel fatigued
What happens when you're not eating enough for a few days? You will become tired and unmotivated.
Trending fads don't give your body what it actually needs. That's why your body is sending a message that there is a problem, that needs to get fixed. Lack of energy, concentration, focus and even hair loss are not uncommon.
But what does work then?
Here's the trick to a healthy lifestyle with long-term success in weight loss: Work on your eating habits, incorporate long-term changes over time and eat a well balanced, nutritious diet.
Remember that no hyped food trend should eliminate whole food groups from your diet. And why not eat a very wholesome and nutritious diet and enjoy a chocolate bar every now and then? You don't have to feel guilty if you crave something sweet.
Actually, the basics of losing weight the healthy way are quite simple:
- Calories are king. You have to consume less calories than you burn in order to lose weight. Carbs don't make you fat! Fat does not make you fat! The goal is to eat as many calories as possible, while still being in a slight caloric deficit (10-20% tops)
- A diet high in protein will lead to better results across the board. Even when consumed calories are equal! Aim for roughly 2g per kg / 1g per pound of body weight per day
- Don't do high fat AND high carb. Some people do better with high carbs, some better on high fat. Don't mix both
- You don't have to do any sport to lose weight. But, it's easier when you work out, because you can eat more and you'll look better in the end
- Make sure to focus on weight lifting, instead of cardio
Have you tried a fad diet before? If so, which one and how was it? Let me know in the comments down below.