Weight loss is one of the reasons why people begin working out, and is also a reason why most people try out diets that promise a more rapid and effective weight loss program.
You’ve seen those ads at least once: lose 10 kilos in 20 days! Be a slimmer you in a month! Along with the ad comes a “before” and “after” photo of a model, supposedly proving its effectiveness, trying to convince you that THIS weight loss program is what you need to get your body back into shape.
Have you ever thought twice about such diets, and though they may seem effective, have you ever wondered if they are even remotely safe?
Your Body and Dieting
Our bodies need food to survive and what we feed it is entirely up to us. Whether we choose to eat that slice of pizza or that ripe juicy apple, our bodies will always have that physiological need to hunt down for food.
Food gives us calories, and calories give us energy. Most food sources have calories. If we feed our bodies with calories and we don’t use them enough, we end storing the calories thus turning into fat or added body weight.
This is where diets come in.
Diets try to limit or control your caloric intake so that you can manage your weight, or even better, lose those extra pounds.
What is a Fad Diet?
Fad diets are diets that gain popularity rather quickly. Most of the time, these diets promise unrealistic weight loss in a short amount of time. Despite numerous health warnings, people still bite into these fad diets.
Here are some signs that a diet is a fad:
- Promises a quick solution to a problem
- Makes use of specialised food
- Highly restrictive and almost always cuts out certain food groups, most notably carbs
- Has certain rules that one needs to follow in order to see results
- Claims are based on testimonials (whether they are real or not is even debatable), or a single study
Let’s take a look into a few fad diets, and see how ridiculous they can be:
- Five-bite Diet: This diet prohibits you from eating breakfast, taking only 5 bites of food during lunch and dinner.
- Werewolf Diet: You’re allowed to drink water, fruit and veggie juices for 24 hours during the New Moon and Full Moon days of the month. No hunting required.
- Baby food Diet: Can you imagine eating 14 jars of baby food a day? Neither can we.
- Sleeping Beauty Diet: Drink a sedative to make you sleep for at least 10 hours a day because who eats while they sleep?
- Fletcherizing Diet: Surprisingly, this diet was developed over 200 years ago. It involves chewing food 100 times before swallowing.
Why a Fad Diet is Dangerous
We know that shedding those extra pounds you gained recently can be frustrating. Most people want a quick and easy fix to help them feel better about themselves. This is one of the main reasons why people get into fad diets so easily – they feel as if they don’t look their best self, thus compromising their self-esteem. Here are reasons why fad diets are dangerous, and should be avoided at all costs:
Loss of Nutrients
Fad diets always cut back on certain food groups, and you end up losing precious nutrients that your body needs.
Think about the cabbage soup diet: it involves eating cabbage soup as much as you want throughout the day, but can a vegetable replace the protein you get from meat? We all know the answer there. Losing essential nutrients can severely compromise your health.
Those pounds you lost so quickly? They’re not fat, but simply water weight. Rapid dehydration is a common side effect of a fad diet, sometimes causing some people to rush to the ER. Our bodies burn calories and lose fat in stages. This is how it has always been. Losing weight naturally obviously takes time, and forcing your body to do more than it could can pose serious health risks.
Restricting caloric intake, or cutting out food groups can cause you to feel sluggish and out of it. We need calories to function throughout the day and if you eat less than what your body requires, chances are you’ll feel fatigued.
Rapid weight loss can lead to severe diarrhea, followed by a bout of constipation. Fasting can also injure or damage the stomach lining and esophagus; acids in the digestive tract can build- up, causing a “burn”. Severe diarrhea is also an issue that one should not laugh about, as it is life threatening if not treated early.
They can be expensive
Some fad diets require you to buy certain ingredients, usually organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed animals, and such. These ingredients can burn a hole in your pocket. Some also promote certain supplements to be taken while on the diet. These supplements can be dangerous in itself, since there have been no proven study or evidence that what it contains is beneficial to the body.
Hard to sustain
Restricting your food intake takes a lot of personal will and effort. Most people end up failing sooner than later because of the lack of nutritional value their diet is providing for them. Your body is just reacting the way it should. It knows that it needs more than just 5 bites of food a day for it to function properly.
There is also the issue of how fad diets can affect your mental health. Having to constantly think about what to eat (or what NOT to eat) for your next meal can cause unnecessary stress.
You will gain more weight
Ironic, isn’t it? The diet that once promised you weight loss is actually helping you gain even more weight. Depriving yourself of essential nutrients, fats, carbs, and protein will only make you crave for them even more, leading to binge eating.
Smart and Healthy Eating
Diet makes up about 70-80% of your weight loss program and you need to be smart about what you eat. There is no need to totally cut out certain foods from your diet, unless you have been instructed by a health practitioner. At the end of the day, it is all about having a balanced diet that includes essential nutrients, fat, protein, and carbohydrates:
- Vegetables, legumes, and fruits
- Wholegrain cereal, pasta, and bread
- Lean meat and fish
- Yogurt, milk, and cheese
- Good amount of water intake
- Limiting alcohol intake (if you are drinking)
- Eating or drinking foods with added sugars in moderation
A Healthy Lifestyle
What you eat is only a small portion of your overall lifestyle, and if you play your cards right, trying to develop a healthy lifestyle isn’t as hard as you think.
Try to make small yet life changing changes first. There is no need for sudden, big shifts. They say that habits develop over a period of 21 days. Make those changes count!
Keep goals realistic, and never pressure yourself. That photo from ten years ago when you were still a size small? Throw it away. Our bodies change over time. It is called aging. Adjust to what your body needs now.
Food should be enjoyed. Don’t look at food as evil. Developing an unhealthy relationship with food can lead to eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Take each bite slowly, relish the flavours in your mouth, and savour every moment.
Don’t fall prey to fad diets that have unrealistic guidelines and promises. Remember that your body needs food, fad diets is a pressure that you don’t need in your life right now. Keep in mind that switching up your lifestyle and diet plan isn’t as hard as one might think. It’s all about small changes and sticking to them. A balanced meal is what you should aim for every time it’s time to eat. Not only are you providing your body with nutrients, but you’re also giving it the energy to function throughout the day.
An active lifestyle is also very beneficial to the body. Head to any of our six locations and become a member for only $12/week with no lock in periods. Make exercise a part of your life!