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Fad Diets: Big Promises, Poor Results

the risks of fad diets

Fad Diets: Big Promises, Poor Results

We’re all familiar with the allure of fad diets. We’ve seen the commercials and the flashy web ads promising to help us drop pounds and inches from our waistlines. Celebrities endorse and promote diet trends to help them sell. In fact, the media seems to reveal a new weight loss secret every week. With such splendid claims of weight loss—in so little time and with such little effort—it’s no wonder diet fads are so intriguing.

As a certified fitness or nutrition professional, you’ve studied the fundamentals of nutrition science. You know that proper, balanced nutrition is an essential part of being physically fit, and is necessary for maintaining a healthy weight. This insight helps you be discerning of the promises made by fad diets, and can aid you in advising your clients as new diet trends hit the market.

It’s fair to say that some diets that have been named “fads” have been given this label unjustly. A fad is something that gains great popularity in a short amount of time and often loses popularity just as quickly. While this definition fits the nature of many fad diets—all the hype one minute, and disregarded the next—we usually consider fad diets as those that have been tried by many, and have proven to be unsuccessful at sustained weight loss. There are, however, a number of diets on the market that are now scientifically-backed as successful weight loss methods, and have achieved staying power since their introduction.

So are fad diets worth trying? Most certified nutritionists would answer no. Many of these unconventional dietary plans simply do not lead to long-term weight loss and are more harmful than beneficial to your body. Here’s why:

1. Yo-yo effect 

In many cases, fad diets do deliver on their promise of fairly quick weight loss. That’s because you’re starving your body of calories. In reality, the weight you are losing is water weight, not body fat. When you return to a normal diet after losing those 10 pounds in 2 weeks, your body will overcompensate and you’ll quickly be back where you started.

2. Unbalanced nutrition

Many diets revolve around eating one type of food (like soup, juice or one type of vegetable) or eliminating a food group or two. In the process of reducing your caloric intake, you’re also starving your body of essential nutrients that it needs, and gets, from a well-balanced diet. Severely restricting your diet over a long period of time will lead to malnutrition and serious harm to your overall health.

3. Supplements are untested

Many diet fads are in the form of a diet pill or supplement. The good news is that there are weight loss supplements on the market proven to accelerate weight loss, when used under direction of a physician or professional nutritionist. However, nutritional and weight loss supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, so companies aren’t required to test their products for safety or effectiveness before going to market. The bottom line here is that you must choose supplements carefully!

4. Unpleasant Side Effects

When you follow a fad diet plan, you’re often robbing your body of what it needs to function properly. So it’s no wonder that your body may start to work against you as it adjusts to an unusual diet regimen. Many undesirable side effects have been reported with glamorous diet fads: fatigue, dehydration, incessant headaches, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, hair loss, irritability… the list goes on. These are not exactly the results you hope for with a weight loss strategy.

When it comes to tempting fad diets and their promises, remember the adage: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The most effective way to lose weight, and keep it off, is with practical lifestyle changes that include healthy dietary choices and being active. As a fitness trainer or nutritionist, you’re able to integrate this approach as part of an effective fitness training plan for your clients. It’s important that your clients also understand that a sound dietary plan will take more effort than what’s promised by a fad diet, but the effects will be positive and lasting.