Debunking Fad Diets - dummies

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Fad diets are typically short-term quick fixes that set up many dieters for disappointment because they may see short-term weight loss, only to regain it after they stop the fad approach. If a diet or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises you to steer clear of diet plans, pills, or products that promise any of the following:

  • Rapid weight loss: Diet plans that promise a loss of more than 1/2 to 1 pound per week can be detrimental and unrealistic. This can lead to loss of bone, muscle, and water, as well as possibly cause you to regain the weight more quickly, which than becomes harder to lose the next time around!

  • Quantities and limitations: If you’re allowed to eat unlimited amounts of one food, such as cabbage or grapefruit, but you can’t eat other food groups, such as carbohydrates, the diet encourages less variety and a monotonous eating plan that won’t last in the long run.

  • Specific food combinations: Eating foods together or at certain times of the day does not cause you to lose weight more rapidly, and eating the “wrong” combination of foods does not cause the calories to turn to fat.

  • Rigid menus: If a diet offers strict, hard-to-live-with meal plans, it’s not the plan for you. Rigid plans can lead you to feeling frazzled and lost when you stray from them because they don’t teach you realistic, flexible eating strategies that you can take with you wherever you go.

  • No need to exercise: Any plan that doesn’t encourage a healthy range of physical activity with at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week will not foster muscle building and fat loss. Keep in mind that a combination of healthy, balanced eating coupled with regular physical activity is vital for healthy weight loss and maintenance for life.

Leave the fad diets behind in the follow ways:

  • Choose a variety of foods every day. Balance whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fat-free or lowfat dairy products, and lean proteins to promote health and keep your waistline in check.

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and limit beverages with empty calories from added sugar and solid fats, as well quench thirst.

  • Eat mindfully. Slow down while eating, chew your food, and avoid eating while doing other things, such as working on your computer, watching TV, or talking on the phone. Enjoy and savor your food.

  • Get moving. Choose activities that you enjoy and are sustainable over the long run. Start small by walking more, and then slowly ramp up to more intense activities.

Consult with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise regimen. For a flexible, personalized eating plan, consult with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).