Atkins, Dukan, Cabbage Soup, Acai Berry, South Beach and Hollywood Cookies-this is only a short list of the hundreds of fad diets that guarantee fast weight loss and bikini-ready bodies. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Fad diets are popular because they usually work temporarily. They promise fast results and deliver on that promise by placing extreme food restrictions on dieters-often focusing on consuming one type of food, such as protein. These diets don't offer balanced nutrition and don't encourage realistic permanent lifestyle changes. While drastic weight loss can occur, it's usually water and lean tissue that dieters lose, while fat is left behind. When dieters decide they can't continue on a restrictive diet, they typically gain back all of the weight they lost. Fad diets and diet pills can also have serious side effects, such as diarrhea, fatigue, heart irregularities and even death in some cases.
Know a Fad When You See One
Fad diets are easy to spot if you know what to look for. You can generally expect it's a fad if the diet:
- Allows you to eat whatever you want without exercise
- Involves losing more than two pounds per week
- Provides "evidence" with before and after photos
- Limits food choices or completely eliminates specific food groups
The Right Diet Is No Diet
If you want to lose weight, you don't need a fad diet. Dropping pounds can be achieved by eating a variety of foods, limiting portion sizes and exercising regularly.
Visit mypyramid.gov to create your own food pyramid that will tell you what you need to eat to lose weight the healthy way. Once you enter your age, sex, height, weight and amount of physical activity, the program generates your personal food pyramid detailing how many grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, meat and beans you should consume daily.
You should always limit saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugar. Sugar can sometimes sneak into your diet through sodas, alcohol and juice, which you should limit or eliminate completely.
Sources: MyHealthLibrary, forbes.com, ftc.gov, ucla.edu, familydoctor.org, kidshealth.org, americanheart.org, mypyramid.gov