Does Quicker Mean Better? Understanding Fad Diets
Do fad diets work? The answer is somewhat complicated. While following a strict diet can lead to quick weight loss, fad diets typically do not account for nutrition. What’s more, people who go on fad diets often gain the weight back after going back to a standard way of eating. For optimal results, people should aim for sound nutrition and a well-balanced way of eating that promotes long-term health.
What is a fad diet?
Many diets get promoted on social media or by celebrities. Some will focus on one particular food group, such as eating mostly protein and few carbs. Others boast the benefits of one specific food or ingredient, such as eating lots of cabbage. While some diets may be medically recommended in particular situations, most fad diets have significant nutritional gaps.
Recognizing fad diets
Here, the adage applies: be wary if promised results sound too good to be true. Spotting a fad diet can be tricky, but a few standard rules apply. Watch for these signs that a diet is just a fad:
- The diet promises a quick fix
- Recommendations are based on a single study
- The dieter has to buy a book or product to follow the diet properly
- The program eliminates major food groups, such as fruits or grains
- The diet lists good and bad foods
The building blocks of proper nutrition are the 3 macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Protein is essential for building muscle and repairing tissue. This macronutrient also helps the body fight infection. Carbohydrates are energy. Carbohydrate-rich foods help to fuel the body in the same way that gasoline fuels a car. People who follow low-carb diets may feel sluggish or have difficulty finding the energy to work out. Dietary fats, such as oils, nuts, avocados, and cheese, are crucial for eye and lung health. These ingredients also help cushion cells to avoid damage. Any diet that cuts out one of these 3 major building blocks is probably a fad.
What should I eat instead?
For proper nutrition, aim to eat a diverse array of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Try to limit trans fats, saturated fats, and sodium. In general, fresher is better. Frozen foods and ingredients can be packed with extra sodium and fat. Additionally, try to limit liquid calories by avoiding soda and limiting alcohol consumption. For some people, specific supplements can help to fill micronutrient gaps. For more information about nutrition and weight loss, speak with a healthcare provider.