Cut out carbs. Only eat raw foods. Eat whatever you want, but only five bites of it. Drink nothing but green juice for five days straight. Some of these suggestions may sound absurd, but they actually come from widely practiced, heavily promoted fad diets. Endorsed by celebrities, professional athletes, and even some doctors, these diets can be found in magazines, on billboards, and on television. They promise to help you slim down in days without ever stepping on a treadmill. While these fad diets sound like the perfect quick fix, the truth is they don’t work.
In their essence, fad diets are restrictive. They force you to cut out certain foods or limit your calorie intake to unhealthy, and often dangerous levels. Unless you have a medical reason to eliminate entire food groups, doing so is not a good approach to lose weight. You put yourself at risk of missing out on vital nutrients and becoming malnourished overtime. This can wreak havoc on your health and weaken your defenses against infections and disease.
In addition to being harmful to your health, fad diets are simply unsustainable. They lack flexibility, and force you to adhere to unattainable standards. This can interfere with everyday life. Fad diets don’t allow you to go out to dinner or drinks with friends or go on vacation. While you might be able to stick to it for a week or even a month, it will not last. “Diets with that many rules and regulations are very hard to follow for an extended period of time,” said Nancy Clark, a registered dietician and nutritionist. “A person should never start an eating program that they can’t maintain for the rest of their life.”
Even if you initially see results, these too can’t be maintained for long. Unless you focus on establishing long-term lifestyle changes, you’re at risk of regaining the weight you lost and possibly putting on more. Try by making small, attainable changes, such as replacing your daily diet soda with a glass of fruit infused water. Once you achieve that goal, add another, such as cooking at least three home-cooked meals per week. By dedicating yourself to a whole new healthy lifestyle rather than a few weeks of deprivation, you will lose more weight and actually keep it off.
The accompanying slideshow is provided by special contributor Yasmin Fahr.