Fad Diets Don’t Work – Introduction
If you want to know why fad diets don’t work, you’re in the right place.
Most people don’t gain weight overnight.
Instead, it takes many months or even years to accumulate unwanted body fat and get out of shape.
And yet, when it comes to losing that weight, most people want to do it in a hurry.
Because of this, there is a HUGE market for rapid weight loss systems, such as super-restrictive 7, 14, or 30-day diets.
While you can lose weight in such a short timeframe, invariably, the diet in question is unsustainable and won’t get you much closer to your target weight.
In fact, many extreme diets are followed by rapid weight regain.
We call these short-term, quick-fix diets fad diets, and they do not work!
In this article, we explain why fad diets always fail and what you can do instead to achieve long-term weight loss.
What is A Fad Diet?
Fad diets are eating plans with little or no scientific or medical backing.
They are generally very restrictive, ban certain foods or food groups, and aggressively reduce your calorie intake while promising incredible results in a short time.
In short, they’re too good to be true!
Fad diets are nothing new and have been around for hundreds of years.
- The cabbage soup diet – consume nothing but watery cabbage soup
- The egg and grapefruit diet – you can only eat eggs and grapefruit
- The tapeworm diet – ingest a tapeworm so it consumes your food for you
- The cigarette diet – smoke, don’t eat
- The clay diet – clay and dirt are filling but free from calories
- The Fletcherizing diet – chew but don’t swallow your food
- The sleeping beauty diet – be anesthetized so you cannot eat
- The cotton ball diet – cotton balls are filling but calorie-free
While these are extreme examples of fad diets, many of the rapid, short-term weight loss plans you’ll see on the internet and in beauty magazines are no better.
They attempt to starve you into weight loss and work against the principles of good nutrition rather than with them.
Not sure if a diet is a fad or not?
If it a) bans a food or food group or b) promotes a single food as a way to lose weight, it’s probably a fad diet and is best avoided.
Another fad diet warning sign is it’s only designed to last a few weeks or a month, such as detox diets.
Why Fad Diets Don’t Work
While fad diets can lead to short-term fat loss, they don’t work for long-term weight maintenance, which is why they fail.
After all, why put lots of effort into weight loss only to regain it soon afterward?
The reasons that fad diets are so bad for you and your weight loss efforts are:
Losing weight and keeping it off requires a full-time commitment.
In that regard, it’s like exercise.
Running a marathon a day for one week out of every year won’t get you fit, and yet that’s what many people are doing when they use fad diets.
However, like running a marathon a day, no one can stick to a fad diet for long – they’re unsustainable for more than a few days or a couple of weeks.
After all, how many days of only eating cabbage soup do YOU think you’ll be able to tolerate?
Quitting is inevitable.
Fad diets are invariably unpleasant.
This makes them very hard to maintain for more than a short time.
Humans are very good at avoiding the things we don’t enjoy.
So while you may be able to overcome your dislike of certain foods for a few meals, invariably, your willpower will dry up, and you’ll quit your diet.
As it took you years to gain your extra weight, it’ll take more than a couple of nasty-tasting green smoothies to lose it.
Many fad diets are more trouble than they’re worth, even if they work.
They involve expensive or hard-to-source ingredients, impractical eating schedules, complicated meals, or lengthy meal prep, or just make healthy eating more difficult than it needs to be.
As soon as a diet seems like more trouble than it’s worth, it’s only a matter of time before you quit and return to your previous eating fattening habits.
Any diet that bans certain foods or food groups has a good chance of being nutritionally unbalanced.
For example, eliminating grains from your diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies, even if it does lead to short-term weight loss.
An unbalanced diet is unhealthy, and even if you lose weight initially, your health may suffer.
While a fad diet could help you lose weight initially, it won’t help you keep it off.
Very prescriptive, restrictive diets don’t teach you about long-term healthy eating, portion control, food preparation, or any of the skills you need to maintain a healthy weight.
They’re a Band-Aid for a wound that never heals.
As such, once your fad diet finishes, you’ll soon regain any weight you lost when you go back to eating the way that caused you to gain weight in the first place.
This is why almost every fad dieter cannot sustain their new weight much beyond the end of their diet.
Weight regain is virtually unavoidable.
No supporting science
Weight loss and fat burning depend on your energy intake vs. your energy expenditure.
Fat is stored energy, and the only way to burn it is to consume fewer calories than your body typically needs.
This is called creating a calorie deficit.
Faced with this deficit, your body will have no option but to burn stored body fat for fuel.
Many fad diets ignore this fact and are built on science fiction instead.
For example, there are no foods that burn more calories than they contain, and there are no magic herbs or spices that will allow you to eat what you want while losing weight.
Similarly, there are no miracle food combinations, special meal timings, or other secrets to losing weight and burning fat.
Eat less, move more, and keep doing it for as long as it takes to reach your target weight.
Then, to maintain your new weight, continue doing the same, albeit less strictly.
This advice might not be alluring, but it will work if you follow it.
The same cannot be said for fad diets.
In summary, fad diets don’t deliver reliable results because they work against your body rather than with it.
Fad diets are a short-term fix to a long-term problem and can do more harm than good.
Most people who do the newest sensational diet end up doing several, hoping to find the ultimate weight loss solution.
However, such a solution does not exist in the world of fad diets.
The Alternative to Fad Diets
The opposite of fad diets is eating real food, the concept of which is pretty straightforward.
Just build your meals around natural, nutritious foods, and try to prepare as many of your own meals as you can.
You can read more about eating real food for sustainable weight loss here.
Also known as eating clean eating, real food nutrition means rolling back the clock and consuming the foods your great-grandparents would have grown up with.
This will naturally lower your caloric intake and increase the satiety of your meals.
Also, real food means consuming more of the fiber and nutrients your body needs and having more stable energy levels.
You won’t need to eat high-calorie, fast-acting foods because your hunger and energy levels will be rock-solid.
This creates the perfect environment for healthy weight loss and easier weight management.
And don’t worry about missing your favorite treats – no food is off-limits.
However, you need to earn those treats by eating real food the majority of the time.
For example, you could allow yourself 1-2 non-clean meals and snacks per week, which gives you plenty of latitude for indulgence.
You shouldn’t even need to count calories.
Most clean foods, such as vegetables and lean proteins, are naturally low in energy, so you can enjoy sensible-sized portions without ingesting so many calories that you gain rather than lose weight.
So, instead of a bowl of sugary cereal or a donut, have a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast.
Ditch the deli sandwich dripping in mayo for lunch and have a homemade grilled chicken salad instead.
Then, when dinner comes around, have a steak or oven-baked salmon with a small baked potato and a big serving of sauteed spinach, broccoli rabe, or asparagus instead of high-calorie pizza.
Snack on fruit instead of candy, and drink unsweetened iced tea instead of soda.
Healthy eating and weight loss can really be that simple!
Why Fad Diets Don’t Work – Closing Thoughts
Clever advertising, false marketing, and paid celebrity endorsements mean fad diets are here to stay.
Also, most people want to lose weight fast, despite taking years to become overweight in the first place.
However, almost every fad dieter will either fail to reach their target weight or be unable to maintain their weight loss.
That’s why so many people are serial dieters who never reach their weight loss goals.
Fad diets don’t work, so there really is no point trying another one.
Ultimately, they all fail for the same reasons.
The “flavor” may change, but the same flawed concepts remain.
Make your next diet your last diet, and eat clean!