Ah fad diets, don’t we love the sweet promises. The Grapefruit diet, Master Cleanse, South Beach, China Study, Atkins, and many other diets pop up when Googling weight loss tips and how to lose that last 10 pounds. The diet industry is one of the biggest industries around the world, with businesses from every sector playing on the public’s increasing obsession with weight loss and eating the ‘right’ foods.
Unfortunately, the primary goal of many of the companies serving this industry is making money and this leads to misleading, inaccurate and sometimes downright dangerous diets being promoted to the public. Nobody likes giving up their favourite foods in favour of a strict, restrictive diet. We are constantly looking for that miracle weight loss regime that allows us to enjoy everything we like, requires very little effort, and gets quick results. Diet companies give us just that in the form of numerous fad diets promising unrealistic results, promoting un-founded theories with no scientific backing and advertising drastic weight loss for a price.
The internet is a confusing place when it comes to nutrition. Anyone and everyone has the ability to post and modify information. Of course it’s easy for a dietitian to identify a fad diet when we see one, that’s what we’re trained to do. Through training we are taught to question the “newest and greatest” that promises a life changing, quick fix by adding a magical ingredient to your daily intake. It’s time to empower everyone out there, going through the key traits on how to spot a fad diet.
What Gives Fad Diets Away?
- Promises a large amount of weight loss over a short period of time
- Does not include suggestions to consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian
- Encourages you to eliminate a macronutrient (such as carbohydrates) or eat from a limited selection of foods
- Offers rigid menus that don’t consider your likes, dislikes and lifestyles. A one-size fits all type plan suitable for everyone
- No exercise, active living or lifestyle changes are recommended or promoted
- Provides far fewer calories than what is needed for an energized, healthy lifestyle
- Contradicts what most trusted health professionals say
- States you can eat whatever you want and still lose weight
- Depends on special products, pills, supplements or treatments that block absorption of fat, calories or carbs, suppress the appetite, etc
- Has miraculous claims
- Relies on testimonials and anecdotes rather than scientific evidence
The bottom line is that fad diets can negatively affect not only your workouts but also your health. With some of these fad diets being restrictive, it can actually break down your muscle you worked so hard to build in order to promote weight loss.
Always keep in mind that there are no short cuts or quick fixes for weight loss/fat loss. An ideal diet is a longer term solution that changes habits and lifestyle to achieve a healthier weight that can be kept that way. While fad diets may promise amazing results, they are unlikely to deliver and even less likely to produce long term results that can be sustained.
By: Alysha Coughler, Body Beautiful Coach and Sports Dietitian