Losing weight with fad diets has been consistently popular amongst those wanting to shed pounds, especially when the New Year rolls around. Among these are low-calorie diets, juice fasts, soup-only diets, and god knows what else.
Many of us are also familiar with advertisements for such diets promising to lose “x” amount of pounds in “x” amount of days. However, aside from their “money-back guaranteed” offer if weight loss isn’t achieved, these fad diets all have something else in common: they are deprivation diets.
They all focus on taking something away. Whether it’s “no fats or carbs for a month” or “1,000 calories a day,” these diets are designed so that a person can sustain this type of eating for a short time, but afterwards their bodies will rebound hard with weight gain and even compromise various Metabolic Adaptations.
Let’s dig into why you should ditch the over-hyped fad diets this year.
Fad Diets are Making You Fatter
One of the more common things we see are people that weight cycle, AKA yo-yo dieting, and this usually stems from fad diets. This is common in boxers, wrestlers, and those that need to make weight in a certain amount of time and in a well-planned manner.
But we also see a lot of people doing this for the wrong reasons such as:
- Trying to fit in a bikini for a last minute trip to Vegas
- Slipping into a wedding dress
- Naughty nurse and school girl outfits for Halloween
The problem with this is…
Research by Dulloo and colleagues have shown that multiple weight cycling occurrences lead to body fat overshooting. A phenomenon where an individual may increase body fat beyond baseline levels, yet retain a metabolic rate that has yet to fully recover (1).
There is evidence by Jackman and colleagues that suggest that adipocyte hyperplasia (enlarging and multiplicity of fat cells) may occur early in the weight regain process, and that repeated cycles of weight loss and regain by athletes in sports with weight classes are associated with long-term weight gain (2).
Moreover, there’s even more studies by Wallner and colleagues that reported weight cycling is highly correlated with an increased waist/hip ratio and is consistent with an increased upper body fat distribution (arms, neck, chest, hip, upper back, upper abdomen) in obese women (3).
Yo-yo dieting is not the optimal or smartest thing to do if you are trying to lose weight. The research shows the slower you lose weight, the longer you can keep it off, lessening the chance to accumulate new and larger fat cells. Slow and steady always wins the race.
Rapid Weight Loss Practices are Dangerous
Rapid weight loss practices are unsafe and damaging to health when techniques are employed that lead to greater weight loss in a shorter period than might be achieved simply by employing a low calorie diet and an exercise routine. Some of these techniques may include (4):
- Severe food restriction and fasting
- Fad dieting
- Restricted fluid intake
- Excessive exercise
- Dehydration by training in extreme heat and dehydration by wearing extra layers of clothing (i.e., trash bags, sweat suits, or other weight cutting suits)
- Dehydration by using saunas
- Overloading water and salt
- Cutting water and salt
- Detox diets or liquid only diets
- Self-induced vomiting
- Use of supplements, diuretics, laxatives, and various other types of drugs, and enemas.
There is evidence that many of these practices can be unsafe and damaging to health.
Fletcher and colleagues explained how rapid weight loss techniques are hazardous and should not be pursued. These rapid weight loss techniques are unsafe and damaging to health. Instead look for a proper nutrition program that will allow you to be eating healthy, maintain consistent hydration and aim for .5-2 lbs of weight loss per week for long term weight management (4).
Fad Diets are Like Trick Birthday Candles
Year after year, “new and improved” diets appear on bookstore shelves and circulate among friends. People of all sizes eagerly try the best diet ever on the market, hoping that this one will really work. Sometimes these diets seem to work for a while, but more often than not, their success is short lived.
Fad diets are like “trick birthday cake candles,” they keep lighting up and we have to keep blowing them out. Realizing that fad diets do not offer a safe and effective long term plan for weight loss, dietitians, clinicians, and nutritionists speak out— but they never get the candle blown out permanently.
Weight loss occurs because of the low energy intake (low calorie deficit). Any diet can produce weight loss, at least temporarily, if intake is restricted. The real value of a diet is determined by its ability to maintain weight loss and support good health over the long term (5).
The goal is not simply weight loss, but health gains. Most of these fad diets cannot support optimal health over time. In fact, these fad diets can create or exacerbate health problems such as eating disorders.
Time to Ditch the Fad Diets
These findings may paint a gloomy picture for people struggling to lose weight, but weight loss is still possible through other means.
It is important to note that these fad diets all are aimed for intentional weight losses (i.e. dieting for the sole purpose of losing weight).
It is the intentional weight loss aspect of these diets that are causing the weight regain along with other physiological and metabolic detriments.
The key is to not deprive ourselves of foods that our bodies need, but to focus more on a nutrient dense diet with some room for non-traditional foods in moderation. This includes adding more healthy varieties of food that our bodies actually need and foods that we will look forward to eating on a daily basis.
This is where a proper nutrition program and having qualified nutrition coaches come into play. Let us help you learn how to build a better nutrition plan by joining us in our FREE 4 week course HERE.
Everyone needs to find a diet that they will adhere to, that is based on their lifestyle and goals, that they will be capable of sustaining long-term.
This is the truth behind fad diets: in general, you will lose weight in a short period of time, but chances are that you will gain back more weight than you had originally lost. So ditch the fad diets this year and join our FREE 4 week course. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
- Dulloo et al. Poststarvation hyperphagia and body fat overshooting in humans: a role for feedback signals from lean and fattissues. 1997
- Jackman et al. Weight regain after a sustained weight reduction is accompanied by suppressed oxidation of dietary fat and adipocyte hyperplasia. 2008
- Wallner et al. Body fat distribution of overweight females with a history of weight cycling. 2004
- Fletcher et al. The potential dangers of using rapid weight loss techniques. 2014
- Whitney, E, Rolfes, S. Understanding Nutrition. 2013