Fad Diets: Just Say No

January 18, 2019 4 min read

When it comes to losing weight, there is no denying the appeal of the fad diet, a.k.a. instant weight loss gratification. In this post, we will talk about the fad diet phenomenon, what they are, what they do, and why we need to 100% avoid them at all costs. We’ll also cover what you should do to lose weight, instead.

What’s a Fad Diet? How Does it Differ from any Other Type of Diet?

You know the drill, folks. We can’t talk about anything until we formally define it. A fad diet is one that promises weight loss or other health advantages, usually relying upon pseudoscience and hearsay, rather than actual science and research to make many of its claims. Typically, this fad diet is characterized by highly restrictive or unusual food choices.

In today’s diet culture, where everyone is trying to lose (at least) a couple of pounds, mainstream media floods society with promises of the next big thing - a new diet GUARANTEED to make you leaner, more attractive, and HAPPIER. Put any quick-fix promises of success in front of a population desperate to lose weight, and you pave the way for any “guru” to promote the next ridiculous fad diet.  

Some Popular Fad Diets of Years Past:

Let’s show by example, honing in on some popular fad diets:

  • Cabbage Soup Diet - This fad is characterized by one staple - fat-free cabbage soup - which you can have as often as you’d like over the course of the week. You’re also allowed to add various low calorie foods, as dictated by which day of the diet you’re on (things like low-starch fruits, veggies, skim milk, etc.).
  • Master Cleanse Diet - There are many different forms of this particular fad, but at its heart is a liquid concoction of lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper in water, which is quite literally the only thing you are allowed to “consume” while on this diet. You are not allowed any food, at all, just this “lemonade”.
  • HCG Diet - This fad requires the use of HCG - a hormone present in pregnant women - usually available as an injectable solution. Individuals inject themselves with the hormone, while following a hyper-strict diet of around 500 calories per day.
  • The Grapefruit Diet - This is a 12 day diet plan in which each meal revolves around grapefruit in some form, and lean proteins. Individuals will typically consume under 1000 calories a day on this diet.
  • The Tapeworm Diet - I’m getting grossed out just typing this out, but this “diet” literally involves ingesting the egg of a tapeworm, which then hatches and grows inside your body, eating your excess food so that you can eat whatever you want, while actually losing weight. The downside - the tapeworm can eat your organs, too. See a problem here?
  • Slim Teas - A fad diet doesn’t always have to be unified - the most popular fad I’ve seen in recent years is the “slim tea”- a laxative concoction that is supposed to help you “cleanse” and lose weight, but is really and quite literally just full of sh!t.


Why Fad Diets Don’t Work

The overwhelming theme in all fad diets is extreme restriction, and quick fix weight loss. These diets can not only be expensive, time consuming, wacky, but they are also dangerous. By cutting calories to dangerously low levels, limiting carbs, and promoting things like natural diuretics, any individual may see quick results, but at a huge cost to their physical and mental well-being. They will also immediately rebound after coming off of the diet, once they start eating normally again. Cue the vicious yo-yo dieting cycle.

What To Do Instead

In this author’s mind, there is a huge difference between eating for a “diet” versus eating for a particular “lifestyle”. Weight loss is nice and all, but your main goal should be eating for your health, and herein lies the key, folks. If you are truly trying to lose weight, you need to lose your attitude of instant gratification, and accept the following concepts:

  1. Slow weight loss is sustainable weight loss - it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  2. Small changes over time can lead to big weight loss payoffs in the long run
  3. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  4. There is no quick fix solution. True long-term weight loss takes time and effort. Accept it, and adjust accordingly.

Once you’ve assessed your set points, looked at your norm, and even potentially consulted with a professional, then you can go and set a game plan on a healthy, sustainable way to shed those unwanted pounds.

Fad diets will always be around, as long as the public is desperate for quick fix solutions. I’ saying that you should just say no to the fad diet, and say yes to a lifestyle change. Your body will thank you, in the long run.

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