Fad diets are ubiquitous and oh-so-tempting to try and lose those last 10 pounds in one week! The problem is, they are unrealistic, impossible to stick to and provide temporary results. Not to mention potential health problems down the road that may be a side effect of an extreme diet or supplement. Here are some tips on how to spot a fad diet and then turn the other way and RUN:
• Severe calorie restriction: If you’re dropping more than two to three pounds a week, what you’re losing is not fat. Our bodies aren’t designed to lose fat that rapidly. It is water, or (even worse) muscle. Once you begin to eat normally again, you will at least regain all of your water weight. Also, regaining your muscle is hard to do, but regaining fat is NOT hard at all.
• Promises of a quick fix and other claims that are too good to be true: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is!” You’re never going to make a change by not making a change.
• Cutting out an entire food group: Demonizing one particular food group is like a giant, neon “Fad Diet” sign. Just look at the history of diets through the years, we were usually wrong. Cutting out an entire food group is not sustainable and it’s not healthy. You will miss out on important nutrients.
• List of good versus bad foods: This is, again, making it sound like one food is your problem. It’s not a good place to be mentally, there is no “I can’t have,” it’s a matter of “How does this fit?”
• Research: We are learning, we know we want a diet backed by research! The problem is, how to know what good research is. Many times simplistic or dramatic conclusions are drawn from a very complex study. Or studies have not been peer-reviewed to ensure they are accurate. There is so much to know, but your dietitian can help you sift through some of these studies and make recommendations.
• Heavy promotion of meal replacements: Sure, you’ll lose weight…right out of your wallet. It is usually simple calorie reduction that’s taking those inches off your waist. Beware of any programs that require you to purchase their meals. Even if you have success with the program, they don’t teach you how to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight. Will you continue to buy these products forever? Many people gain the weight back once they’ve completed the program.
• Requirements of specific food combinations: This is scientifically unsound and you might be missing out on some important nutrients due to the limitations.
• It is always better to have a sustainable and well-rounded diet. It can be frustrating, but weight loss should be slow. You didn’t gain weight overnight – it won’t come off overnight! Come see one of your Greenwood Dietitians to discuss a realistic way to get started on your health journey.
Leah Kleinhans, RD and Kristin Burgess, RD
GATC Nutrition Services