Anyone who has been on more than one diet in their life will tell you that losing weight and actually managing to keep it off is very difficult. It requires commitment and dedication and a long term plan. Fad diets on the other hand offer a fast weight loss solution and they can be hard to resist even for veteran dieters who should know better. It is easy to forget about all of the bad points associated with fad diets and just focus on the short term gains they offer. Here’s a quick guide to spotting the difference between a genuine diet and a fad one.
Beware Amazing Claims and Promises
“It is human nature for people to go for fad diets that offer a quick solution to our weight problems” says A. Knehans of the nutritional sciences department at the University of Oklahoma. Identifying fad diets can be difficult “Because as yet there is not standardized definition of what makes up a fad diet”. However here are a couple of warning flags that you should be aware of:
- The diet makes promises such as you will start to lose weight rapidly or at a pace that seems unrealistic. Any verification of this rate of weight loss is based on just one study.
- The diet’s recommended daily food intake seems extreme.
- Statements regarding the diet are not confirmed by reputable sources within the scientific community.
- It labels foods as being either good or bad.
- It uses personal testimonials to promote or sell the diet to you.
- It involves crash-dieting and a very low intake of calories each day.
“Fad diets are like the bat wing top of nutrition,” says Judy Penta a health counselor working in NY city. “These types of diets are popular for just a very short period of time before they fade into obscurity and a new fad comes along to replace them.
The Popularity of Fad Diets?
Why do some diets suddenly become so popular? Some factors include:
- Celebrity endorsements. In the present media obsessed age this is one of the key factors.
- Fast weight loss without effort. People want to see results now. They don’t want to wait months for the effects of their diet and hard work to become noticeable. There is a temptation to take short cuts and go for the easy option in most things and this includes dieting.
- The mentality of “elimination”.The notion that eliminating some foods from the daily diet will somehow lead to weight loss is incredibly popular. Many diets have gimmicks about cutting out carbs or protein or certain types of food.
- Peer pressure. If lots of other people are following the latest fad diet you don’t want to feel left out do you?
Safety Questions for any Fad Diet
Any time you are planning to lose weight it is vital to follow a weight loss regime that is not only effective but first and foremost safe.
Most fad diets will provide short term results. Either because they involve an unhealthy reduction in the number of calories consumed each day or because they promote water weight loss that is quickly regained.
“Fad diets work to a certain extent because they change our daily eating routines. Instead of just mindlessly snacking and not really thinking about what we eat they force us to change our eating habits significantly” said Penta.
However while it may be argued that there are some benefits to be gained from fad diets it is worth remembering that the nutritional make up of most of them is very poor. By their nature they are not going to provide you with all the nutrition your body needs to get through the day. People who are on fad diets often experience the following signs:
- Bouts of dizziness
- Diarrhea and constipation
- Changes in mood
- Non-stop hunger pangs
Anyone who is taking medication or has any ongoing health concerns should think very carefully before going on a fad diet and should always consult their GP first. There can also be psychological consequences that are attributable to fad diets. Finally weight that is lost through fad dieting is almost always regained just as quickly and can lead to a non-stop cycle of yo-yo dieting.
There are Alternatives
If you’re thinking about trying a new weight loss regime make sure that it is not just another fad diet. Conduct a little research before you start it and look into the science behind any claims the diet is making. For most people an individual diet plan from a nutrition or dietician will offer a much better solution.