When someone sets out on a new fad diet such as an extreme low-carb diet or one with another aggressive restriction, many negative thoughts begin to manifest in the person’s mind.
Stress, apprehension, and even fear are often the guiding principles of these diets and the means by which they are enforced. These feelings are developed intrinsically – but, it’s important to note that they’re a response to an external demand. What can someone learn from an aggressive weight loss plan? Nothing but what is told to them or even demanded of them.
Don’t have this; you can’t have that; stay away from this food group – all of these negative phrases make it challenging to walk into a store, read a menu, or look into your refrigerator without feeling understandably overwhelmed.
These feelings of anxiety can spur the stress-eating cycle we discussed previously, which is just one of many problems with fad diets. Moreover, being so limited can make you more inclined to just give up and return to a pleasure-driven diet.
The demands of fad diets, which come from an external source, often overlook or are perhaps completely at odds with your intrinsic qualities. For instance, if you’re a person who enjoys eating meat and has for your entire life, how will a raw vegan diet suddenly become sustainable for you?
The same could also apply to exercise-based weight loss programs: if you’re someone who has always enjoyed cycling, how will weight training be a fitting choice for you?
Certainly, it’s possible that you could find you actually enjoy going vegan or incorporating weight training into your lifestyle. Yet, unless you’re exploring healthy options because of your own personal motivators, they’re unlikely to stick.
One of the pillars of a fad diet is its promise to deliver short-term results. Yet, in exchange for weight loss results, which can be noticed quickly, fad dieters are giving up any hope for long-term success.
Oftentimes, fad diets advise taking in far fewer calories than what’s considered safe or healthy. As a result, people are delighted as they watch the weight “fall off” – not realizing that what they’re losing is probably water and lean muscle mass instead of fat.
Starving the body in this way is impractical over the long-term, and when dieters return to their normal eating patterns, they tend to gain back all of the weight and perhaps even more. This makes lack of long-term success one of the dangers of fad diets.
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Many fad diets also encourage people to pick from the same, extremely selective food choices day after day. Limiting food choices and discouraging a balanced approach to nutrition is a flawed approach for a few reasons. For one, it can lead to boredom. Excluding an entire group could leave you with cravings or cause you to grow tired of the same choices. This may spur you to “cheat” on the diet and actually overeat to satisfy your craving.
For another, extremely restrictive eating plans may advise severe calorie restrictions or leave nutritional gaps in your diet. In some cases, these can have adverse health effects. Even if there aren’t any risk factors associated with your chosen fad diet, it’s unlikely to be sustainable over the long term.
Because of the nutritional gaps in fad diets, from extremely restrictive eating plans, fad dieters tend to gain back all of the weight, and perhaps even more, when they return to their original diet. Fad dieters also run the risk of:
Ultimately, the hazards of taking any diet to the extreme include slowing down your metabolism, increasing anxiety over food choices, and potentially even suffering from malnutrition or depleting energy levels due to a thyroid condition. Any short-term results you may witness simply aren’t worth risking your mental and physical wellbeing for – especially when there’s a better, more sustainable way to approach weight loss.
Fad diets are the first mistake many individuals make on their journey to long-term weight loss. Lured by the temptation of instant gratification, these fad diets promise to deliver short-term results. Oftentimes, fad diets take in far fewer calories than what is considered normal or healthy, giving up any hope for long-term success.
Any weight loss program, plan, or product with the following features is best avoided:
Short-term results are not worth the mental and physical turmoil. Contact Cenegenics to learn more about how our program can help you achieve your long-term weight loss goals!
This guide was produced with contributions from the following key resources:
Joshua D’Alessandro MS, CSCS, CISSN
Nutrition & Exercise Counselor at Cenegenics New York City
The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation
The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 1: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy
Jeffrey Park Leake, M.D., CPT
Dr. Jeffrey Park Leake is a Partner and Director of Education at Cenegenics Elite Health specializing in age management and wellness. Having trained hundreds of physicians worldwide, Dr. Leake is also the Director of Education for the Clinical Strategies for Healthy Aging course at AMM Educational Foundation.
Todd David Greenberg, M.D., CSCS
Dr. Todd Greenberg is a practicing physician with a broad range of expertise, including wellness, exercise, sports injuries, and MRI of sports injuries. He is a Radiology Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington.