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Fad Diets

Sep 14, 2020

Chances are, you know someone who’s tried a fad diet, or maybe you’ve tried one yourself. They’re impossible to avoid! Whether it’s Facebook Ads, Instagram “Influencers” or even news articles trying to be helpful, everywhere you turn someone’s got a new way to take off the “Covid 15”.

Before you go further in this post, I want you to do a quick scroll up and make sure you have read and understand everything in my last nutrition post, entitled “Nutrition Basics”. That post might be old news to you, in which case, read on. Or you might learn something new. Either way, that information is a must have before reading this post.

Most people “go on a diet” to lose weight. There are those (the smart ones, in my opinion) who go on a diet to eat healthier and then usually lose weight in the process, but the majority just have one goal: drop pounds. So we’re going to focus on these diets from that standpoint.

First, let’s talk the true “Fad Diets’. These are the extreme ones that all the Instagram influencers (who, by the way, tend to not be nutritionists) just swear by.

  1. Ever popular are the cleanses. The details vary but the premise is the same - eat nothing, drink only this particular concoction (cayenne water, lemon water, laxatives, the list goes on) and you’ll drop pounds. Certainly, you will. Because you’re starving yourself, and depriving yourself of all your macronutrients. As soon as you take a bite of food, the weight will come back on, and I’m sure you can imagine the stomach issues!

  2. The “Eat only this” diets. Pick one: Cabbage soup, vegetables, meat, etc. Since you are a macronutrient aficionado, thanks to my last post, tell me, does cabbage soup give you all your macronutrients?

  3. Baby food diet. Yes, this is real. You know who baby food is super great for? Babies. You know who it’s not made for? Adults.

  4. Keto/Atkins is a really popular one. This diet aims for "ketosis," a metabolic state that burns the body's stores of fat instead of carbohydrates, the body's natural source of energy. To do that, the diet restricts carb intake to levels nutritionists feel are highly unhealthy as well as completely unsustainable. In place of carbs, the keto diet emphasizes high levels of animal protein, fat and dairy, typically full of saturated fat that can contribute to cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.

Next, let’s go over some more “reasonable” diets. These are less about depriving yourself of particular foods and more about just being healthy overall. They’re about having lots of the “good stuff” and less of the bad. These aren’t restriction diets - they’re just about having some control over what goes into your body.

  1. DASH is often recommended for those that need to lower blood pressure. It advocates eating more vegetables, fruit, and low fat dairy, and less saturated fat and salt. Seems pretty doable, and reasonable!

  2. WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers. This program was shown to be successful due to its stressing the importance of support. Members are allowed a certain amount of “points” per day, and can make their own meals within their point value. They also attend meetings both with peers and with coaches, which has been shown to make a big difference!

  3. Flexitarians are vegetarians with the occasional meat or fish. Their diet focuses on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and plant based proteins. This is one of those diets you have to do well to have success with - it’s easy to overdo the carbs and fats in your quest for enough plant based protein.

  4. Mediterranean Diet. This one’s close to my heart because it’s how I live my life! This diet has a high percentage of success due to it being healthy and easy to follow. It’s also been shown to help with diabetes, fertility issues, bone density, and heart issues, and to lower the risk of dementia, breast cancer, and high blood pressure. The diet advocates mostly plant based proteins with the occasional lean meat (chicken, turkey, fish, seafood). It limits sugar and saturated fat, while encouraging healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.

  5. Also on the list is our very own Balanced Habits program! This diet advocates a healthy balance of your macronutrients, focusing on timing and portion size above all. It also has the added benefit of 1:1 coaching accountability, which has shown to make a big difference.

Hopefully the difference between these “fad” diets and the more reasonable nutrition programs is clear to you. Always keep in mind the three macronutrients, and their uses within the body. Unless your doctor has given you a reason, there’s no need to cut out or sharply restrict one of your nutrients. And if something advertises itself as just so easy or simple, be wary! It’s the same concept as “Get rich fast” money schemes. They usually don’t work, and there’s usually a catch! There is no magic formula besides hard work!


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