Why fad diets don’t work


For lasting weight loss, adopting a healthy eating lifestyle is key

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Fad diets are difficult to sustain, ineffective in the long run and restrictive. So why are they so popular? It’s because they promise a quick fix: Dramatic results! Fast weight loss! An end date! Those ideas are, of course, alluring for busy people who want to lose weight.

Unfortunately, these programs don’t really do busy people any favors. Instead these fads promote the idea that you can lose weight fast, like magic, while ignoring facts about nutrition, sustainable weight loss and healthy eating. They substitute elixirs, pills and powders for real food as if achieving optimal nutrition by eating real food is not possible.

Fad diets exist in many forms, but typically have a common thread: They encourage the restriction and/or overconsumption of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. (See my Balance Is Key post for more info on the importance of these three macronutrients.) While these strategies may lead to quick weight loss, they almost always lead to weight gain once the diet is done, not to mention unwanted side effects.

For example, diets that promote increased fat and decreased carb consumption may help with accelerated weight loss but is tremendously difficult to maintain over time. Plus, eating too much fat, especially from salty, processed foods, may increase your risk for heart disease. Not to mention the restriction of carbohydrates inevitably leads you to wanting them even more.

By contrast, when you develop a sustainable approach to healthy eating, you commit to a lifelong approach to eating well instead of a strict diet with an expiration date. The best “diet” for weight loss is not a diet at all, but rather an optimal distribution of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and lean proteins from real foods, not pills or powders.

This type of eating pattern is backed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association, and is the backbone of Healthy For Life Meals. By including healthy carbs, fats, and proteins at every meal, you will stabilize your blood sugar, feel satisfied and decrease your urge to overeat foods that fad diets tell you to restrict.

Note from Healthy For Life Meals: Are you tired of fad diets, and looking for a way to achieve sustained weight loss? Healthy For Life Meals is for you! Sign up today to get started with our meal plans, made from 100 percent real foods, with no supplements or strings attached. Feel your best and reach your weight loss goals with an established style of eating, instead of the latest trend.