Over the years there have been many diet fads and trends that have promised to be the “be-all-end-all” of weight loss methods. They fall in and out of popularity faster than you can say “check please” and their promises get more and more alluring the longer you’ve been engulfed in the endless cycle of perpetual dieting. Paleo, Keto, Clean Eating – you name it. They’re a dime a dozen and they VERY rarely offer a sustainable solution.
Quick fixes NEVER work. At least not longterm.
I know, I know, you may have lost 7lbs in a week that one time that you did Whole30 but how long did those results stick around? How did you feel afterward?
This time of year it can be tempting to jump on the diet-trend bandwagon to hit your New Year diet goals hard, especially if you feel like your results have slowed. But because you’re reading this article I have to assume that you’re a strong, empowered, bad-ass woman who wants to know how to call BS from a mile away.
Let’s get started with the basics!
- If a diet sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You know those diets that promise rapid weight loss from something as simple as taking a pill? Yeah, not real.
Dropping 10 pounds in 7 days? Sure, it’s physically possible BUT the majority of that weight is not fat. I won’t lie and say none of that weight was fat – but it’s probably a lot less than you think.
Let’s break down the numbers. 1 pound of pure fat equals about 3,500 calories.
Even if you’re only eating 800 calories a day for a full week (and somehow you haven’t binged by sheer willpower alone), you’re not likely to burn more than about 2-3lbs of actual fat. So where’s the rest coming from?
All carbs are converted to glucose. Excess glucose is then converted to glycogen. Glycogen is a normal part of metabolism that allows us to draw on the carbs stored in our muscle for energy as well as it allows us to keep our brain functioning. Glycogen maintains the majority of its weight in water like a sponge. When you eliminate the carbs or maintain a low carb consumption through a crash diet, you deplete the extra stores of carbohydrates that your body keeps in your liver and muscles in the form of glycogen.
These quick losses are almost ENTIRELY water. You’ve simply dumped the water out of your liver and muscles. After your week of crash dieting, when you go back to eating your ‘normal diet’ you will gain the lost pounds back. If by some insane way you actually are able to eat 800 calories for any extended amount of time, your rate of weight loss slows back down to 2-3lbs per month with further implications to your metabolism, strength, and psychological health.
It’s not something that you can maintain for any real amount of time and definitely not something that is going to make you feel like the pinnacle of health.
One of the very easiest things to do to lose weight is to follow a set of very strict rules for a set amount of time. Implementing an extremely low intake of calories in and increasing calories out by an intense cardio regime is a pretty surefire way for anyone to lose weight for a little while. But again, if your goal is to lose 10lbs and you don’t care if you gain it back or not, cool. If you want to lose weight and keep it off for good, you’re going to have to let this one go.
There are many ways to induce rapid, dramatic weight loss, but unless the plan is sustainable, the weight will come back. Don’t be lured by the promise of “too good to be true” results.
2. Everyone has an agenda. No matter who you are, we all have biases and we could use a healthy dose of skepticism.
- Remember Dr. Oz and his MANY claims that taking the latest all-natural extract will “melt the pounds off” or cure cancer? Strangely, each and every episode promoted something new with little evidence to back it up. Of course, his intent may have started off good, however, he just wanted to keep his show on the air and would do that at any and all cost. If all of his claims worked so great, would he even have had an audience half the time?
- Researchers are frequently hired by a company to confirm specific results that they are looking for, failing to acknowledge the parts of the study that do not fall in line with the particular wanted outcome. In fact, if a research study starts proving the opposite of their goal message, they will often pull funding.
- That celebrity on your Instagram feed that “swears” that her SkinnyMeTea helps her maintain her abs is getting paid. Not to mention that she’s also got a slew of personal trainers, nutritionists, photographers (photoshop anyone?), and possibly a plastic surgeon.
3. If a diet requires you to cut out entire food groups, you should run. Don’t eat fat. Don’t eat carbs. Don’t eat dairy. Don’t eat grains. Don’t eat the food you like.
You know all of those times that you decided that you were going to cut out sugar? Maybe you don’t even eat candy or cookies that often but the minute you decide that it’s off-limits, it’s all you can think about! After 30 days of mustering all of your strength to avoid sugar at all costs, maybe you found yourself at the bottom of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Often times in this moment we are stuck between feelings “this is a celebration for all my hard work” and “man that was a major fail in the willpower department.”
Both sides often lead to a regression back to your previous eating habits and weight leaving you to find the next best diet to lose the weight for good.
I know that you might think that gluten makes you fat or dairy bloats you, but take a good hard look at the way that you eat those foods. Is your over restriction causing you to go overboard when you DO allow yourself to eat those foods?
Diets that eliminate entire food groups just aren’t realistic long-term. There will ALWAYS be pizza and social events. Vowing to never enjoy the foods that you like again or decline every party, celebration or date night because it doesn’t go along with your diet isn’t realistic. Instead, it would be more beneficial to learn how to add these foods and events in a way that:
- Doesn’t sabotage your goals
- Doesn’t send you off into a guilt-ridden tailspin.
The best diet is the one that you will stick to for the long haul and that doesn’t make you feel like a crazy person around food. If your current diet doesn’t allow that, kick it to the curb.
Disclaimer: There are people with specific medical conditions that are exacerbated by certain food groups. If you have a condition that is influenced by your diet, please listen to your doctor’s advice.
- If the diet uses expensive products to detoxify and cleanse your body, they’re probably founded on a whole lot of nothing. Your neighbor wants you to buy her 21-day detox from the MLM company she just signed up with.
When you ask her for details, she gives you the company’s ‘schpeel’ about how this 21-day detox will clean out your colon aiding you in the loss of 10-20lbs of stored waste that has just been hanging out in there for years.
Oh, and by the way, it’s ONLY $129/month but you’ll ONLY need it for the rest of your life.
The word detox is straight-up marketing guff. Thanks to your liver and kidneys, your body already does a perfectly good job of filtering out toxins and Sally down the street is on a new ‘all-natural’ diet that is ridding her body of chemicals?
Literally EVERYTHING is comprised of chemicals. From the purest oxygen to the most overproduced fast food. Sure some chemicals are beneficial and some are harmful — but it’s impossible to escape them altogether.
When looking at scientific data, there is very little evidence to support that these things actually work. Think critically about the information that is being presented to you! Does it make sense? Is it too good to be true? No more diet pills, no more programs, no more cleanses or juices, or any other expensive thing that you keep reverting back to every 2-3 months. Save that money girl, go take yourself on a date and buy some new leggings from Lululemon to celebrate your newly found freedom!
I understand that these fad diets are easy to get sucked into, especially when they are promising impossible results and you’d do anything to reach your goals. Reputable research sites are going to become one of your best friends as the science-based BS fighter that you now have become!
ANYTIME you have questions about ingredients or the effectiveness of a diet! We’ll write a follow-up post explaining how to decode research papers and reviews BUT for now, just know that if it looks too good to be true, it likely is!
- If a diet causes you to develop a bad relationship with food or your body, then it’s not worth your time. On a daily basis, how frequently do you think things like:
“Ohhh I’ll have to workout more because I ate______. Ugh but I hate working out. I might as well just eat the rest of it because I’ve been like this way for so long, one more day won’t hurt.”
“If I eat this, will I lose all my progress?”
“Sorry, I can’t eat _____ I’m on a diet.”
“I FREAKING HATE THIS.”
“I’m sorry I’m so upset, I’m on a diet”
“Omg, it’s almost: summer, spring break, my wedding, my great aunt Sally’s pool party, graduation, a once in a lifetime trip, a cruise, my honeymoon, etc. I need to diet right now.”
In college, I tried the HCG diet. Let’s be real… in college, I tried EVERY diet. I walked around all day, every day feeling foggy, tired, shaky, obsessing over food. As much as I tried to convince myself that this was all ‘worth it’ in my quest for being thin, I had no energy to go out with my friends, I was irritable with my co-workers, and all I wanted to do was lay around. I could barely function, let alone exercise. It took me YEARS to recover from the negative headspace that I was in. Sure, I eventually had abs but was I really healthy?
What does healthy look like to you?
Most people mistakenly focus on just their appearance as evidence of good health (or lack thereof), but looks actually have very little to do with it.
Health is not just measured physically. Emotional health is an equal part of the equation. The secret to being “healthy” is treating yourself well and establishing healthful habits that you can feel good about. If your diet is having a negative impact on the way you think about yourself or food, work towards making a positive (and healthy) change.
Wrapping it all up
If you aren’t happy, hate the food your diet is telling you to eat or find yourself angry at life 24/7, this is a sign that you need to let this diet go and create a plan that works for you. “Good” nutrition doesn’t (and shouldn’t) end when you reach your goal, but needs to be a key component of your diet for the rest of your life! For this reason, you need to be doing something that makes you feel happy, healthy, and balanced! It’s not worth wasting your time on ANYTHING that isn’t that.
If you are following a diet program or exercise regime that you can’t see yourself following 6 months, 1 year, or 5 years down the road, you need to rethink your plan.