Definition of fad. : a practice or interest followed for a time with exaggerated zeal : craze.
Fad diets are stylish, exciting, and filled with promises. Excess pounds melts away in a matter of days…6 to 8 pounds in a week! Usually the reported results don’t go beyond a few initial weeks for two reasons: most fad dieters run out of “exaggerated zeal” and drop the diet after a short period, and the fad diets are difficult and risky to maintain for the length of time needed for sustainable loss.
The foundation of most fad diets is deprivation: they focus on taking something away. No fat for one month… fasting two days/week… nothing but juice for four days… no carbs! And the problem with deprivation is that it makes us want what is forbidden even more than we did before. Once our zeal dies out, so does our resolve.
The statistics for weight gain after crash dieting are sobering: only 5% of people who lose weight on fad diets will keep the weight off. One reason is that much of the initial weight loss is water, not fat. This can be demoralizing to dieters who struggle to stick to the rules of the diet, only to see their weight plateau quickly or begin to go back up.
Rapid weight loss carries health risks as well. The immune system can get completely out of whack, bones get brittle, and heart palpitations can occur. Often muscle is catabolized when calories are severely restricted, and metabolism slows. Ironically, this can lead to a greater weight gain when the fad dieter resumes eating, because caloric needs are now diminished. It’s a true roller coaster!
Here are some solid guidelines for distinguishing between a fad diet and a healthy one:
Characteristics of a fad diet:
- Rapid weight loss guarantee (more than 1-2 pounds per week.)
- Specific food combinations
- Elimination or severe restriction of entire food groups
- Promoted by celebrities
- Special packaged meals or supplement purchase required
- No need to exercise
Characteristics of a healthy weight loss program:
- Promotes healthy, whole foods that are naturally low in calories and high in nutrition ~ vegetables, fruits, lean meats, healthy fats, whole grains.
- Attends to portion control
- Incorporates an exercise plan
- Takes into consideration individual tastes, preferences, values and lifestyle
- Is sustainable and possible in many situations (work, vacation, weekends, parties.)
Summer is a great time to begin a weight loss program. Fresh food is bountiful and the beautiful weather promotes a variety exercise (swimming, gardening, walking, etc.) If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle, consider partnering with a certified weight loss/health coach for accountability and one-on-one support. Request your free, no-obligation 15-minute phone consultation to discover if coaching might be the missing piece in your weight loss puzzle.
To your good health!
Certified Weight Loss Coach & Fitness Trainer
WHS Wellness Center