Ever looked at those size zero models walking the ramp, or the model showing off her svelte body in the clavicle highlighting off-shoulder outfit and wondered what it takes to get there? Given the sedentary yet busy lifestyle that most of us have, squeezing in a workout and actually put in efforts to plan healthy nutritious meals have never been harder. We want the weight off, and we want it off ‘fast’. Thus, the decision to resort to fad diets and how they came to be.
These diets usually sound too good to be true and under all probabilities, they are. They are popular and work for a while and definitely not recommended by medical professionals or nutritionists. Yet we fall prey, get into such diets, get thrilled with quick results and before we know it, we are right back to square one and ready to embark on yet another vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting.
So, what’s IN now?
While we have already done and dusted the age-old Atkin’s diet, the Dukan diet and such, the current trending ones are the keto diet, the paleo diet and the LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) diet. With such promising tag lines, what’s inconspicuous is their astronomical failure rate once you go back to your regular diet.
Here are 10 reasons why these diets are destined to fail and how these diets cause more harm than good.
1. What are you ‘actually’ losing?
It is easy to take up a fad diet and get thrilled with the rapid weight loss in the initial days. Ever thought how the weight comes off so fast? Is this thrill something that will last? Maybe not. Rapid weight loss within a short time usually means the loss of water weight from the body. This is the water that the body holds on to in case of dehydration. This unhealthy pace of weight loss can lead to dehydration without you even realizing it happening and it is not even actual weight loss.
2. Ah! The fatigue.
A good healthy diet should make you feel like a million bucks. It should not leave you feeling like you ran a marathon when you have barely done a thing. Fad diets can deprive your body of necessary nutrients and make you feel unmotivated to do even the basics tasks or proper workouts. Suddenly you have a perfect recipe for a weight loss disaster – hungry, thirsty, irritable, unmotivated and no workouts. This is counterproductive and just is a sure shot way to gain all the pounds back.
3. What’s on your plate?
Most fad diets advocate cutting on certain macronutrients from your diet and concentrate on others and thus create an imbalance defeating the science behind a healthy balanced diet. Missing out on certain food groups or nutrients can cause deficiencies and intense cravings. The right diet should not send starvation signals to your brain or cause these cravings. A good mix of all nutrients with lots of veggies ensures a healthy diet with antioxidants and required amounts of fiber.
4. Trading muscle for fat.
Crash diets may help you shed some weight quickly, but make no mistake. Without proper exercise routine in place, muscles don’t build. While on diets like this, what we lose is muscle mass and not fat. Loss of muscle leads to a lower Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). A good BMR is imperative for effective weight loss and more muscle means more calorie burn. A sluggish BMR can prove to be a very big deterrent in weight loss, causing frustration.
5. Fight or flight mode.
The lesser you eat, the more weight you are going to lose, right? Wrong. Eating less and not meeting basic caloric requirements puts your body in the ‘fight or flight’ mode causing it to hold on to whatever less it gets resulting in slower metabolism in an effort to conserve available energy.
6. Your heart doesn’t love it.
Drastic weight loss within a short time, which is what happens while following such diets, although encouraging in the beginning, is not something that will last. Most yo-yo dieters gain all the weight back and more often than not, end up weighing in more than they weighed in initially upon stopping their diet. The rapid weight gain puts a lot of pressure on the heart and increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and overall mortality.
7. Not healthy for the wallet either.
Since fad diets require that you use certain groups of food and certain supplements, it can be quite heavy on your wallet. This is especially true if you keep jumping from one diet to another after cycles of successes and failures, since all these diets are designed to work only in the short term. The quick results are addictive, giving a false sense of hope and urging us to try different diets and different supplements while offering nothing in the long run except some irreversible health problems that you are left to deal with.
8. Not sustainable.
How long can we be on a frustrating diet for us to keep the weight off for a good amount of time? Quick results disappear as quickly as they appear. The frustration, the cravings, the toll on health and their unrealistic claims make fad diets non-sustainable. All the effort that goes into following one just becomes nullified once the diet is discontinued.
9. The lurking evil.
In addition to dehydration, fluctuating blood sugar levels and sluggish metabolism, fad diets can cause severe diarrhea or constipation or alternating combinations of both due to the shock and confusion caused to the digestive system. Some diets which advocate intake of lots of protein can put a lot of pressure on the kidneys which struggle to process the sudden surge of proteins. Should we pay this price for a short-term goal?
10. Your emotional health matters too!
The desire to look a certain way or see a certain number on the scale can push us towards these diets. The cycle of losing pounds and gaining it all back can be quite frustrating. The hormonal balance can tip and set us on a path of mood swings, emotional binging and demotivate us from following a healthy lifestyle.
What to look for in a diet?
The ability to eat a variety of foods, focusing on nutrition rather than lesser calories
A diet that focuses on portion control and having well-spaced healthy meals.
One that allows flexibility of giving into occasional or healthy cravings.
A diet that makes you have an attitude shift about making a sustainable lifestyle change rather than achieving short term goals.
A realistic diet that keeps your mind and body happy.
So, here’s to healthy diets, healthy minds, healthy bodies and a happier you!