Spotting Fad Diets

Summer is here and the temptation to try the next fad diet to lose those few winter pounds may be higher than ever. Here are quick tips to help you spot and avoid the unhealthy traps.

a- Rapid Weight Loss: The first warning sign of a fad diet is a promise of a quick fix and a rapid weight loss. Rapid weight losses do more harm than good. You tend to lose water, muscle and bone mass and not fat. A healthy weight loss averages between half and one pound per week.

b- Restricted Food Groups: Avoid any diet that restricts whole food groups such as carbohydrates or fats. Even if you take multivitamins, you will miss out on other nutrients and antioxidants.

c- Unlimited quantities of one food: Whether it is grapefruit, lemonade or cabbage soup, consuming unlimited quantities of one food is both discouraging and unhealthy. It may even be dangerous. You may lose weight quickly but the weight lost will quickly find its way back and usually it’s more than before. Not to mention that you will be missing on a whole range of nutrients.

d- Supplement or food item only available from the “food expert’s” website or shop: Question the person who claims only he/she has the patented miracle product that will make you lose weight and feel better. Recommendation to buy a specific product should be warning enough and should raise a thousand question as to the claimers’ motives and benefits. Moreover, they usually rely on testimonials and not on scientific evidence and valid research.

e- Lists of “bad” vs “good” for you foods: There is no scientific evidence that one food combination is “good for you” and will make you lose weight. I have seen diets that recommended eating iceberg lettuce but not cucumbers for some people and vice versa for others based on the Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) alone! BIA is used to measure the amount of water in the body and conclude the percentage of body fat and muscle mass. It cannot miraculously show that cucumbers are the culprits behind your excess weight!! Please do not fall for charlatans, and believe me there are many!!

f- No need to exercise: If a diet specifies that you should not exercise, then it is a very low-calorie diet that is not healthy and cannot be maintained on the long run. Exercise is very important for your cardiac health as well as muscle and bone strength. It should be an integral part of your life. Aim for 30-60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Building muscle mass will increase your metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight.

In conclusion, going back to basics always seems to work best. Following a healthy, balanced lifestyle and exercising remain your best bet for losing weight and maintaining that weight loss. Other tips include drinking water, eating mindfully and slowly without distractions (TV, phone, laptop…), and getting adequate sleep.

And always remember “If it’s too good to be true, it most probably is”!

5 thoughts on “Spotting Fad Diets

  1. As someone trying to lose some weight, it’s easy to fall for the traps. I have to remind myself that, if there were a magic pill, no one would be overweight. There would be more press coverage than the usual daytime talk shows. Eating right and exercising for me, kthx.

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