In springtime, people start to become more aware that shorts and swimsuit season is rapidly approaching. In an effort to look one’s best in less time, many attempt to use fad diets as a quick-fix solution. However, what happens for most individuals is that they see some fast results, which usually cannot be maintained longterm.
By definition, a fad diet is one that eliminates a food group (or set of nutrients), makes unrealistic promises (such as lose 30 pounds in 30 days), and essentially puts your health at risk.
It is true that each person’s body is unique and different, however, the basic science of what our bodies need for fuel, repair and renewal are the same — we need carbohydrates, protein, fat, water, vitamins, minerals and fiber for overall health and well-being.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source, used in the body as glucose or stored in our muscles and liver as glycogen.
Protein is necessary for muscle and tissue repair and renewal along with helping our immune system to function properly.
Fats are used for fuel, at rest and during endurance activities, to transport fat-soluble vitamins in the body, and to provide essential components for body processes (essential fatty acids are needed for brain function and heart health.)
Vitamins and minerals, often called micronutrients, are necessary “team players” that work as regulators to help reactions occur in the body — cellular, nerves, protein synthesis, bone health and many other functions.
Sometimes it is helpful for people to consume supplemental levels of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids because their intake from their foods is not adequate.
Fiber, which is found in plant-based foods can help you feel full, have healthy bowel function and aid in lowering cholesterol and blood sugars.
With all the focus on weight in our society, it isn’t surprising that millions of people fall prey to fad diets and bogus weight-loss products.
Conflicting claims, testimonials and hype by so-called “experts” can confuse even the most informed consumers. The bottom line is simple — if a diet or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
There are no foods or pills that magically burn fat. No super foods will alter your genetic code. No products will miraculously melt fat while you watch TV or sleep. Some ingredients in supplements and herbal products can be dangerous.
Steer clear of any diet plans, pills and products that make the following claims:
Rapid weight loss
Slow, steady weight loss is more likely to last than dramatic weight changes. Healthy plans aim for a loss of no more than 1 to 2 pounds weekly. If you lose weight too quickly, it will increase loss of muscle, bone and water. You also will be more likely to regain the pounds quickly.
Quantities and limitations
Ditch diets that allow unlimited quantities of any food, such as grapefruit and cabbage soup. It may be boring to eat the same thing over and over and hard to stick with monotonous plans.
Avoid any diet that eliminates or severely restricts entire food groups, such as carbohydrates. Even if you take a multivitamin, you’ll still miss some critical nutrients. A multivitamin should be an addition to a moderately healthy diet.
Specific food combinations
There is no evidence that combining certain foods or eating foods at specific times of day will help with weight loss. Eating the “wrong” combinations of food doesn’t cause them to turn to fat immediately or to produce toxins in your intestines, as some plans claim.
Life is already complicated enough. Limiting food choices or following rigid meal plans can be an overwhelming, distasteful task. With any new diet, always ask yourself: “Can I eat this way for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, the plan is not for you.
No need to exercise
Regular physical activity is essential for good health and healthy weight management. The key to success is to find physical activities that you enjoy and then aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days of the week. The 30 to 60 minutes can be divided up into shorter more intense workouts.
For those who want to maintain a healthy weight, build muscle and lose fat, the best path is a lifelong combination of eating smarter and moving more.
For a personalized plan tailored to a specific lifestyle and food preferences, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist with expertise in weight management. An RDN can help people find a realistic, flexible eating style that helps them feel and be their best.