fad diets and weight loss

Most people today are trying to lose weight by using the latest diets found on the pages of popular magazines, seen on high-rated TV talk shows or even those on display on their local bookshop shelves. However most of these diets, popularly known as fad diets, fail to follow the recommended combination of reducing calorie intake and increasing caloric expenditure through physical activity for achieving long-term weight loss benefits.

Apart from the fact that fad diets might help you to rapidly experience immediate weight loss – however unhealthily – the vast majority of dieters who use these diets plans have almost always had the weight come back just as fast. Also once dieters stopped using the fad diet plans, they usually regained all the excess pounds lost.

Since majority of fad diets focus on macro-nutrient manipulations combined with low calorie intakes to produce their weight loss effects, this practice cannot be sustained for long. When you starve the body of its essential macro-nutrients it needs to function properly, the first thing that happens is dehydration as the body starts losing water from the body cells. This is what actually results in the apparent weight loss when starting a fad diet.

With continued use of the fad diet, the body starts using up its muscle mass by depleting its stored glycogen – mixture of glucose and water – as it major source of energy. Still it doesn’t start burning up any fat at the body prefers to hold onto the body fat for survival.

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Further use of the fad diet results in most of the body’s muscle mass being used up and with no other available alternative, the body starts using up its stored body fat. However due to the fact that fat does not burn as fast as muscle mass, the body becomes unable to meet up with its energy demand. This often results in the body getting weaker, fatigued and unable to carry out its normal activities.

At this point, 99.9% of dieters on such fad diets break the diet. This prolonged deprivation of necessary nutrients needed by the body will ultimately result in increased appetite and food craving forcing you to eat unhealthily while it the body tries to restructure itself.

With this understanding of what fad diets are and how they affect one’s weight loss efforts, how can one therefore distinguish between a healthy diet plan and a fad diet? To help protect consumers against the unhealthy fad diets, the American Heart Association has provided some useful tips. To know if a diet is probably a fad diet, consider the following notes.

Contain Miracle or Proprietary Ingredient

Check to see if the diet plan is promoting a “magic” or “miracle” food or some other self-acclaimed proprietary ingredient. When it comes to weight loss, there is no such thing as a "super food" or "magic ingredient" that is capable of undoing the long-term effects of overeating and lack of physical activity.

Claim of Rapid Weight Loss

When a diet claims ability to get rid of excess body weight, for instance "lose 10 pounds this weekend", then be on your guard. It’s nothing more than a fad diet. While this might be quite appealing, the weight loss resulting from such a diet is mostly due to loss of water from body cells and not from body fat not as earlier explained.

A lot of research have proven that gradual weight loss increases an individual’s chances of succeeding at reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight. A sound weight loss plan focuses on losing no more than 1 to 2 pounds of body fat per weeks.

No Combination of Exercise

Any diet plan that promises weight loss without combining exercise is nothing more than a fad diet. Studies have over the years consistently shown that increased physical activity is the single most important factor that predicts a person’s success at losing weight and keeping it off permanently. With most fad diets reducing your daily calorie consumption to below 1,000 per day, it becomes obvious why exercise is never part of the equation.

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Unusual Quantities or Elimination of Food Groups

A lot of fad diets promote the elimination of one or more of the five recommended food groups. Some try to avoid dairy foods or eliminating carbohydrates. Restricting certain foods or entire food groups, while being unhealthy, also increases the likelihood of an individual cheating, binge eating or giving up on the diet as a whole.

Rigid Menu or Schedule of Eating

Any diet that places too much emphasis on a rigid menu or rigid schedule of eating should be avoided. Limiting one’s food choices and adhering to specific eating schedules are definitely daunting tasks to accomplish and which make an individual’s weight loss attempts all the more difficult to contend with. A good diet plan is one that can be followed by including it into one’s lifestyle for an entire lifetime and not only for a couple of weeks or a month.

There is little or no value in losing weight if only to regain it back once a diet stops with even the possibility of adding some extra weight. Such repeated dieting makes weight loss more difficult as it results in frustration, feelings of failure, and loss of self-confidence.

Conclusively, the truth of the matter remains that fad diets are generally not sustainable and provide no long-term healthy weight loss benefits, are nutritionally inadequate, and should therefore be avoided. The optimal diet for weight loss should while reducing overall caloric intake, promote increased physical activity.