fad diets

Fad Diets: Love Them or Leave Them?

The American culture centers around bigger, better and faster – which is exactly why fad diets are so popular. These diets offer a targeted weight loss approach, each with different foods to include and avoid in order to achieve goals. Contrary to the low-fat movement of the ‘80s, the most recent diet protocols, including the ketogenic, paleo and Whole30®, push for a low-carb, high-fat and high-protein intake.

Highlights:

  • Estimates suggest that 45 million Americans go on a diet every year, yet only 5% manage to keep the weight off long-term!
  • The most recent diet protocols, including ketogenic, paleo and Whole30®, push for a low-carb, high-fat and high-protein intake.
  • Fad diets are restrictive, unsustainable and eventually cause overwhelming cravings and hunger for “forbidden” foods that drive yo-yo dieting.
  • For more tips on long-term weight loss, check out our “Take It Off, Keep It Off” Lunch & Learn.
  • Looking for a personalized approved to weight loss? Call 630.You.Well to inquire about our custom “Drop the Diet, Lose the Weight” Nutrition & Wellness Program!

The benefits of cutting sugar and flour products are undeniable. Restricting these simple carbohydrates can shift your body into ketosis, a metabolic state that involves burning fat for fuel rather than sugar. Aside from weight loss, ketosis also boosts brain function and memory, balances hormones, and regulates hunger and cravings. You may be thinking, what could be better? However, the extreme nature of fad diets, which for the ketogenic diet involves restricting carbs to a measly 50 grams or less per day, is incredibly difficult to maintain, hard on the body and can have serious health consequences such as nutrient deficiencies and constipation. Fitting into the skinny jeans certainly has its draw, but at what expense?

A balanced diet is the key to health and longevity because every food brings different nutrients to the table. Fad diets, on the other hand, promote for an over-consumption of one food group while limiting other, oftentimes, healthy foods. For example, the now aforementioned trending diets call for a complete elimination of grains and legumes with very minimal amounts (if any) of starchy fruits and vegetables. These foods are replaced with animal proteins and fats such as coconut oil, butter, avocado and nut butter. Swapping fiber-rich, alkalizing food sources for acidic, contractive foods can help flatten the stomach. However, since carbs cause water retention, this is often a result of water loss rather than true weight loss, and the bloat will return once carbs are added back into the diet.

oatmeal

Furthermore, long-term avoidance of carbs and fiber can lead to a variety of imbalances within the body. Fiber coming from fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes helps regulate the bowels, detoxify the body and balance hormones. It also feeds good gut bacteria, otherwise known as probiotics, which control everything from digestion and the immune system to mood, energy, cravings and hunger! A low-fiber intake goes hand-in-hand with constipation, irritability, headaches, bad breath and mood swings. The restrictive nature of these diets is also linked to nutrient deficiencies, especially magnesium, which is responsible for up to 800 different functions in the body.

The ketogenic, paleo and Whole30® programs are designed to be higher in fat and protein –  with the ketogenic diet calling for up to 80% fat intake. This extreme amount of fat, even if coming from healthy sources such as avocado, nuts and extra-virgin olive oil, puts a strain on the gallbladder and liver. When these organs are not functioning properly, digestion is impaired, and symptoms such as bags under the eyes, belching and bloating after meals are common.

The emphasis on animal protein, as seen in the paleo diet and Whole30®, is yet another cause for concern. Meat, poultry and dairy are acidic, constrictive, inflammatory, hard on digestion and toxic to the colon. A high intake can cause constipation, weakened bones, high cholesterol levels and kidney disfunction. Red and processed meats are especially harmful, containing carcinogenic compounds that have been directly linked to colon cancer. Although some individuals need animal protein to feel balanced, almost anyone can benefit from moving to a more plant-based diet.

healthy fat

The bottom line is that fad diets are not sustainable. Their restrictive nature can be a physical, mental, emotional and social challenge. Plus, the avoidance of complete food groups creates nutritional imbalances that eventually drive hunger and cravings. When the drive becomes strong enough, willpower gets depleted and resisting temptation becomes too difficult. This often results in binge eating, followed by guilt, restriction and being back “on” a diet. This yo-yo dieting cycle and resulting weight fluctuations is a lifelong challenge for people. In fact, with 70% of Americans overweight or obese, an article by The Washington Post suggests that 45 million Americans go on a diet every year, yet only 5% manage to keep the weight off long-term!

Stop the vicious cycle and get off the merry-go-round! Instead of punishing or restricting yourself with the latest fad, we encourage you to find balance with your food intake. Eat by the seasons, rotate foods and avoid overdoing it on any one food group. Even kale in excess can contribute to imbalance, inflammation and sensitivities. When you eat a wide variety of real, whole foods, the body naturally regulates itself and weight loss will follow!

For more tips on long-term weight loss, check out our “Take It Off, Keep It Off” Lunch & Learn. Looking for a personalized approved to weight loss? Call 630.You.Well to inquire about our custom “Drop the Diet, Lose the Weight” Nutrition & Wellness Program!

Leave a Reply