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Why "Fad" Diets Don't Work

“Fad diets” are usually what people strive for when they are looking to lose weight quickly. However, most results are not sustainable long term. Most of these diets can present serious health risks because the majority fail to meet nutritional recommendations.

Many fad diets have low calorie intake and can result in quick weight loss – which is mostly lost in water weight and lean muscle mass, not fat. These types of diets are something I hear about on a daily and thought I’d share some of the things we should be aware of before taking on any kind of diet.

Nutritional Deficiencies

A fad diet usually restricts certain foods and recommends very little intake, therefore making it very hard to maintain and usually resulting in weight gain (and then some) once the person goes back to his/her normal eating habits. Nutrition deficiencies can not only prevent you from achieving the results you are looking for, in some cases it can promote hair loss, fatigue, depression/anxiety, etc.

Impact on Metabolism

Metabolism is the way your body breaks down the food you consume to produce energy. This energy is used for everything you do, from brushing your teeth to lifting weights in the gym. Your muscles, lungs, heart, stomach, etc. also require energy. The less food (fuel) you consume the less work your metabolism will have to do.

The reason why a lot of fad diets tend to slow down metabolism, is because you are losing lean muscle mass and not eating enough, which makes less work for your metabolism to accomplish. A good way to increase metabolism (and burn fat faster) is to gain lean muscle. For doing so, you should be incorporating exercise and a well-balanced diet.

Short Term Weight Loss

Most fad diets will recommend a restriction of a certain food or food group, but only for a short period of time. Like I mentioned - you will most often lose water weight and lean muscle mass (not fat). This means that once you are done the program and go back to your regular eating habits you will most likely gain the weight back or maybe more.

They Don't Improve Behavior

If you are following a diet for a short period of time that is completely different than your regular eating patterns, you probably won't be following it's recommendations forever (let's be real). To make long term progress, it's important to address the root of the problem. You should assess you own eating habits and make changes/improvements from there - this is where the will magic happen.

These are just a few examples I can give you why fad diets aren’t always the solution. Before taking on any kind of diet, here are a few things you should consider:

  1. Make sure you are not skipping meals and/or snacks

  2. Try to have balanced meals (a source of carbs, protein and fat in each meal)

  3. Don’t aim to lose more than 0.5 - 2lbs per week

  4. Don’t always rely on the scale for progress – take before and after pictures (in my opinion, this is one of the best ways to track your progress)

  5. Speak with a doctor or dietitian before starting a diet.

  6. Most importantly – listen to your body.

Bottom line, you shouldn’t have to do a crash diet to get the results you are looking for. A good balance between nutrition and exercise will make all the difference in your long term results.

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