Why You Should Stay Away from Fad Diets
There’s something about a quick fix that draws us in, despite our better judgement. Even though we know better, we’re often tantalized by the promise of an instant solution to our problems. No doubt, at some point in our life, we’ve encountered the promise of rapid weight loss in record time since the diet industry is rife with misleading promotions, products, and fad diets.
Fad diets are a constant fixture in our society, but the harm they can cause is real and often lasting. So what is a fad diet and how do you spot one? Let’s break down the typical signs that a diet might be a harmful fad, and some healthier weight loss alternatives.
What Is a Fad Diet?
At their heart, fad diets are trendy, quick-fix diets that promise rapid weight loss. Their goal is typically to drop as much weight as possible in the shortest period of time.
People often use fad diets to prepare for an event, vacation, or other special circumstance. And for this reason, they are inherently unsustainable and very extreme, often involving cutting out entire food groups or long periods of fasting. We refer to these diets as “fads,” because they come and go in popularity due to a celebrity promotion or online traction, yet they are largely unsupported by science, research, or experts.
How Do You Recognize a Fad Diet?
The characteristics of a fad diet can vary, but there are a few key things that most include:
- If a diet is promising you’ll drop 20 pounds in one month, run. Fad diets promise a ridiculous amount of weight loss in an unreasonable amount of time, when healthfully, it’s not sustainable or recommended to lose more than 2 pounds per week.
- Fad diets often involve cutting out entire food groups. Even more, these trends will demonize certain foods, not only promoting an unhealthy diet, but an overall negative relationship with food. If the recommendation is to entirely cut carbs, or only consume liquids, you should probably stay away.
- A selling tactic often used to promote fad diets is the classic before and after photo. If the two photos look like entirely different people, it’s probably because they are.
- A common key component of a fad diet is a product or service that someone is trying to sell you, frequently advertised by people who clearly don’t use that product themselves, like all those tea detoxes, magic pills, and juice cleanses that can even, sometimes, contain laxatives. Yikes.
- Most revealingly, fad diets are almost never backed by any scientific evidence, research, or industry experts. Remember that just because a product is FDA approved does not mean that it’s effective or good for you. Do your research before hopping on any trend.
After all these signs you may think that fad diets are little more than unproven trends promoted by celebrities, but you may still be interested and would like to give one of these diets a try. After all, what’s the harm, right? Aren’t fad diets healthy and safe?
Hate to break it to you, but the answer is almost always no.
Why Are Fad Diets Unhealthy?
To function properly, our bodies need stability, balance, and consistency. A steady, healthy diet is the key to a healthy metabolism, which is not just the speed at which our bodies burn calories, but what regulates all our bodily functions to keep our internal systems working well.
Fad dieting can greatly disrupt the stability of your body and slow your metabolism over time, which is not only unhealthy, but can severely delay your fitness goals. If your diet involves cutting out major food groups or macronutrients, you may find yourself experiencing symptoms of dehydration, malnourishment, muscle loss, and more.
Luckily, there are tried and true methods for healthy weight loss. The only scientifically backed way to lose weight healthily and sustainably is a balance of a healthy diet and moderate exercise. You already know it, but it’s true. Where fad diets would have you cut carbs only drink celery juice, a truly healthy diet is a well-balanced combination of macros − with protein, fat, and carbs all having their place.
Quick fixes are never the answer. And, more than instant results, don’t we all want long-term health and fitness? To stay fit and healthy throughout our lives, fad diets should be avoided at all costs. Fuel your body properly, and it will reward you with health and strength.