The Truth about Fad Diets: Part 1

Everywhere you look, there seem to be companies or magazines or someone trying to get you to be on a certain diet that “really works.” Promises of being able to “lose 5 pounds in one week” lure us in. So why don’t we all look like fitness models? Why are so many Americans overweight or obese?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), an estimated two-thirds of all American adults are on a diet, at any given time, to either lose weight or prevent weight gain. Yet only 5 percent of these dieters will be successful at keeping the weight off that they lost. The U.S. Surgeon General estimates that 6 out of 10 adults are either overweight or obese.

So what happened to all those diets? Why aren’t they working?

First, let’s talk about fad diets. How can you tell if something is a fad diet or not? Most fad diets have certain characteristics that allow you to spot them quickly. This is a list that, while it is not extensive, will hopefully help you to learn how to steer clear of these types of diets:

  • Claims to provide dramatic weight loss in a short amount of time
  • Tells you to eliminate entire food groups (carbs, sugar, fat, etc.)
  • Has you substitute a single food for an entire meal
  • Lists certain “good” and “bad” foods
  • Uses slogans that sound too good to be true (Hint: It probably is!)
  • Associates “detoxification” with the diet
  • Makes you pay for access to the diet, or makes you pay for a book
  • Wants you to purchase certain products for the diet (supplements, herbal blends, protein or nutrition bars, health drinks, etc.)

Not every one of these necessarily means that it is a fad diet, but if there is more than one of these characteristics combined, it is a pretty good indication that it is.

So why do so many people do fad diets? What people love is that they promise being able to drop a lot of weight in a short amount of time. The promises of weight loss with each new diet give people new hope and motivation. It seems quick and easy. But is it really easy to pour over lists of foods you shouldn’t eat, or try to survive on maple syrup and lemon juice, or to deny yourself certain food groups?

So what should we do to be healthy? How can we lose weight and keep it off?

This is what I’ll discuss in Part 2 of this blog. Thanks for reading and come back next time!

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