Are Fad Diets All That?: 95% of diets reportedly fail. And this shouldn’t be surprising considering how dieting is already challenging, and the many myths about weight loss and false notions do not make it any easier.
Our previous article on Myths on Losing Weights and Fats lists 12 notions that have been popularized as antithetical to weight loss — such as consuming dairy or even lifting weights — that are scientifically incorrect!
Another quite popular weight loss myth on the list is that one can lose all their fat in just one week. Does this sound familiar?
Many fad diets are advertised as quick solutions to your weight loss dilemma. Many fall victim to these claims because of endorsements by established celebrities or seemingly successful results.
Why are there varying results if these diets are only fads, and what is the science behind them? We’ll answer these questions below.
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Diets based on limited nutrition
Fad diets commonly ostracize a particular food or nutrient because doing so promises an easy solution.
This is the case with carbohydrates, which the Atkins and keto diets highlight as the “problem” element, and with fats with the South Beach diet.
However, carbohydrates and fats aren’t inherently unhealthy.
Carbohydrates break down into glucose to supply our body with energy, as do fats while simultaneously supporting cell function.
That is because our body is designed to function with a combination of these macronutrients.
One can go into a calorie deficit by limiting one’s consumption of certain foods.
This can allow a dieter to shed excess pounds and is why the same result can be acquired whether you focus on low-carb, low-fat, or high-protein diets.
This calorie deficit is often accompanied by fatigue, gut issues, and even higher death rates from heart complications that get swept under the rug due to the appearance of successful results.
Of course, we should indeed moderate our consumption of certain “unhealthy” and processed carbs or fats. Women’s Health lists diets filled with these empty calories such as soda or muffins that we should generally be avoiding and substituting with more nutrition-dense options.
However, many of these diets can take that notion too far — to detrimental results.
Diets based on limited intake
These diets are based on the principle that lesser food consumption equals fewer calories consumed.
That is why diets like the hCG diet limit you to 500 calories a day for eight weeks while simultaneously taking human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and also why the master cleanse diet requires you to eat nothing and drink only a lemon concoction for ten days.
Any super low-calorie diet, where the calories consumed are less than the calories burned, can result in weight loss.
Consuming hCG has nothing to do with it.
The master cleanse diet conceptualized by Stanley Burroughs also has nothing to do with the liquid form of the diet, but more with the restriction of intake.
However, these diets aren’t sustainable as the body can crash and enter nutrition deficiency.
The human body isn’t built to function on 500 calories or less per day.
Therefore, when the dieter eventually resumes a more balanced diet, the body rebounds and overcompensates for the loss of nutrients.
This can mean recovering all the lost weight — and even more — as the body increases its production of ghrelin to fuel hunger while decreasing its production of leptin.
Diets limited by time of consumption
The practice of fasting has been used therapeutically since 500 BCE.
However, these were often under the context of religion, health, or spiritual and mental cleansing.
Today, the usage of fasting for weight loss has rapidly increased since Michael Mosley popularized the intermittent fasting diet in the UK and Australia in 2012.
Since then, many more celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian and Hugh Jackman have come out in support of this method.
Yet, depriving your body of food for extended periods of time can be extremely distressing.
Your body may elevate its cortisol levels, which can disrupt your sleep and increase feelings of anxiety and depression.
By being limited by time instead of intake, one increases their tendency to overeat and binge on processed and generally unhealthy meals.
This is commonly referred to as the diet cycle, describing when one naturally slips up in their diet. Failure to follow the diet “rules,” no matter how much the dieter was set up for failure, leads to guilt, which in turn can lead to binging.
The dieter then gives up, until the next fad diet comes out, and the cycle starts all over again.
Importance of science-based diets
Calories are often used as a buzzword in the dieting community, but many fail to recognize the complexities of the human body.
In an act of self-preservation during starvation, the body may choose to conserve the energy consumed.
This means that rather than burn these calories — as fad diets claim will happen — the brain will store everything you eat into fat while taking energy from your muscles instead.
It is important to remember that everyone’s body is unique, with their own medical history.
That is why, when celebrities endorse specific diets, the media often fails to highlight how these celebrities are backed by their own medical team of physicians, dietitians, and other specialists to ensure results.
If you were to secure healthy and long-term means of weight loss, your diet must be based on science and, more specifically, the science of your own body.
WeightWatchers’ weight loss programs are highly personalized and go through rigorous assessments with nutrition and behavioral scientists, registered dietitians, and clinical researchers.
This allows a program to address unique bodily features like diabetes, or common weight loss hurdles like stress eating that vary from person to person.
Scientific studies from UIUC echo the success of individualized eating programs like iDip that allow dieters to consume adequate amounts of carbs, fat, protein, and fiber, all the while limiting their daily calories to maximize weight loss.
These do not vilify nutrition or promise quick fixes to obesity as research in Frontiers notes happens with fad diets.
Instead, science-based, personalized approaches to dieting promote sustainable weight loss through the development of healthy habits, with the dieter’s health consistently at the forefront of priorities.
With the proper diet, anyone can guarantee a fit and happy lifestyle for many years to come. For more practical life tips and hacks, we are here to offer you quality and viewer satisfaction.