Steer Clear of Fad Diets

Fad diets are weight loss plans or aids that promise dramatic results. These diets don't offer long-term success, and they are usually not very healthy. Some of them can actually be dangerous to your health.

Some of the best known ones are as follows:

  • Controlled Carbohydrates such as Atkins and Southbeach, Protein Power and The Zone.
  • High Carbohydrate/Low Fat such as Dr. Dean Ornish: Eat More, Weigh Less, the Good Carbohydrate Revolution or the Pritikin Principle
  • Controlled Portion Sizes such as Dr. Shapiro's Picture Perfect Weight Loss or the Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan
  • Liquid diets such as the Cambridge diet and Slimfast
  • Diet Pills/Herbal Remedies such as dexitrim and hydroxycut
  • Food combining such as Fit For Life

It seems almost as if there is a new fad diet every week. Many of these contain elements of truth, but on the whole they contain much more good marketing than good science.

There is the 3-day diet, which touts eating little more than fruits for three days, followed by vegetables or meat or grains the other days. As you can see from the list above, there are lots of variations.

While it's certainly true that eating fruit regularly is a key element to good health - most contain needed carbohydrates, vitamins and fiber - eating almost exclusively fruit for three days leads to imbalance - in carbohydrates, fiber and additional otherwise healthy components. To an extent the body will equalize and store what it needs for later, but there are limits.

Similarly, the 'low carb, high protein' diets, such as Atkins, recommend cutting way down on carbohydrates and eating substantial amounts of food high in protein. Here again protein is vital to proper nutrition, but so are carbohydrates. Putting too much emphasis on the first over the second leads to rapid, temporary weight loss, and I have to stress the word 'temporary'.

Carbs are essential for supplying energy for all biochemical processes. Though the body, when needed, will use other sources, such as fat and protein. Too great an emphasis on protein reduces the bodys ability to store and regulate water, whereas carbohydrates help that.

Well how about the chocolate diet? Nearly everyone loves chocolate and, contrary to some reports of a few years ago, it is healthy - in moderation. Chocolate contains anti-oxidants and other compounds that are helpful. But, as with anything, too much of a good thing is just that - too much. Also, many will prefer chocolate with high fat and high sugar amounts so the benefits of the chocolate are overcome.

There are ultra-low fat diets. Once again, the problem isn't with reduced fat, but going to extremes. A certain amount of the right fats in your diet is a healthy thing.

Any diet which makes promises of radical, rapid or quick weight loss - or any other extreme claim - is almost guaranteed to be more harmful than helpful. The human body has evolved over millions of years and decades of good nutritional research still confirms the common sense truth: balance is good, moderation is healthy.

Eat moderate portions at regular intervals of fruits and vegetables (for vitamins, carbohydrates and fiber), grains (for carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fiber), protein (for amino acids) and dairy products (for calcium, unless you're lactose intolerant). For the average person, between 2000-2500 calories per day is appropriate. Less for women, on average, and for those seeking rapid weight loss.

People are often willing to try any fad diet that promises to help them lose weight because they want to look or feel better, or because they are worried about getting weight-related diseases. Companies that promote fad diets take advantage of this fact. They appeal to people by promising weight loss that's very quick and easy. Many people prefer to try the quick fix of a fad diet instead of making the effort to lose weight through long-term changes in their eating and exercise habits.

Fad diets also become popular because many of them do work for a short time. In many cases, this is because when you stop eating certain types of food or eat “special” combinations of foods, you are getting fewer calories than you normally would. You are also paying more attention to what you are eating. However, it’s likely that much of the weight you lose is from water and lean muscle, not body fat. Also, most people are not able to keep up with the demands of a diet that strictly limits their food choices or requires them to eat the same foods over and over again. These eating plans are just not sustainable in the long term. If you try a fad diet, be prepared, at the end of it all, to gain back any weight you lose, maybe even more.

A balanced diet, coupled with age-appropriate, moderate and regular exercise, will lead to a healthy percentage of body fat, good muscle tone and a well-tuned system. You'll find you feel better and look good.

Consider an online inexpensive, personal trainer for weight loss and exercise and avoid the fad diets.