Diets (that) don’t work

I came across a friend who is trying the Grapefruit diet (I’m not going to link to it, if you want to know what it’s about, google it).  She’s successfully lost 6lbs in 4 days and is going to do it for another week (12 days in total).  It will give her what she wants… maybe a stone of weight loss in a week so she can go to an event feeling better about herself before possibly putting it all back on again.

I’ve never been on a ‘diet’.  I think ‘diets’ don’t work, and far prefer to eat a healthy balanced diet with good food and ‘bad’ food and plenty of exercise.  I thought I’d put some ideas together on how to get a good, healthy varied diet and how to identify and avoid the bad / fad diets.

Avoid these five types of diets for best weight loss results

“Eat what you want, when you want, and watch the pounds disappear!” You’ve heard of them, maybe even tried them: miraculous-sounding diets that claim to shed kilos with minimal effort. There are hundreds of these quick-fix diets out there, from the grapefruit diet to the detox diet to the “caveman” diet. How do you tell legitimate weight loss plans from diets that don’t work?

One reason’s it’s so hard to tell the difference is that even the worst diets will probably result in weight loss. Don’t be fooled into thinking weight loss can be achieved because of some magical food, pill or potion. What causes weight loss is eating fewer calories than you burn. Ridiculous, unbalanced diets cause weight loss because they are basically low-calorie diets.

After a few weeks on an unrealistic diet, dieters usually become frustrated and give up. This leads to feelings of failure that can help send them right back to their unhealthy lifestyles.

Fad diets not only fail to produce long-term weight loss, they can lead to deprivation, weight gain, and discouragement.  In other words, you are often worse off than before you started.

The worst diets ever

Experts have identified five types of diet that are unlikely to produce long-term results for most people.

1. Diets that focus on only a few foods or food groups (like the cabbage soup diet, grapefruit diet, strict vegan diets, raw food diets, and many low-carb diets).

Beware of any diet that rules out entire food groups.  People need to eat from a variety of food groups to get all the nutrients they need.

Although some restrictive diets do work initially, they fail long term. You can lose weight on diets that focus on single foods, like cabbage soup, but how much cabbage soup can a person eat?  Before long, you grow weary of eating the same foods every day and cravings for favourite foods lead you back to your former eating behaviour.

Keep in mind that all foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle in moderation, even things like bacon and ice cream. And when diets forbid certain foods and dieters envisage a life without their favourite treats, those diets usually fail.

2. “Detox” diets.  (Extreme regimes calling for procedures like liver flushes, bodily cleanses, colonics, or hormone injections).

All the flushes and cleanses are pure nonsense, unnecessary, and there is no scientific basis for these recommendations.  Your body is well equipped with organs, such as the liver and kidneys, and the immune system, to rid itself of potential toxins and does an excellent job of cleansing itself without needing flushes or cleanses.

3. Diets with “miracle” foods or ingredients (like supplements, fructose water, bitter orange, green tea, or apple cider vinegar).

Dieters are always searching for the food, pill, or potion that will help them lose weight, but unfortunately, there are no such miracle ingredients. In reality, no one single food, or group of foods, eaten together or at a certain time of day has any impact on weight loss.

Be wary of any plan that recommends a shelf full of supplements, enzymes, or potions, these can be expensive and may well offer no benefit.

4. Fasting and very low-calorie diets.

Fasting has been a cultural and religious tradition for centuries, and is fine for a day or so, but fasting for weight loss is counterproductive. When you consume too few calories, your body thinks it is starving and adjusts your metabolism. When you go back to eating normally, your metabolism doesn’t readjust and therefore you need fewer calories than before, so you swing between losing weight and putting it back on again, otherwise known as the yo-yo syndrome.

What’s worse, weight loss during a fast is usually a combination of fat, fluid, and muscle, but the pounds regained will probably be all fat.  Not convinced yet? Experts say  you won’t feel good, nor will you have much energy to be physically active while fasting.

What about very low-calorie diets? These may result in impressive weight loss at the beginning but this will slow over time as weight loss averages out.

5. Diets that sound too good to be true.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Diet plans that claim to have a “secret”, that make dramatic statements against respected health authorities, or make recommendations that contradict those of scientific organisations are suspect.

Finding a diet that works
There is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to diet plans, and it’s important to find one that fits your lifestyle. The best diet is one you can safely and realistically stick with for the long term, plain and simple.

It should be flexible enough to fit in with your lifestyle and should encourage healthier eating by focusing on balance, variety and moderation.

In fact, the best “diet” may not be a diet at all.  Instead, think about strategies to satisfy your hunger for fewer calories.  Eating more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help manage your appetite.  Understand your hunger and only eat when you need to.  Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and eat enough food to keep you fuelled.

Here are two top tips for weight loss.

1. Take stock of what you’re doing now and identify your “weakest link”. Most people know immediately where they are vulnerable:

  • mid-afternoon snacking,
  • large portions, (I started using a smaller bowl for my cereal and halved my cereal intake – which was too high anyway!)
  • too much alcohol,
  • a sweet tooth,
  • snacking all day long,
  • or even the types of food and drink you consume – could they be healthier?

Try to identify what led to your weight gain and address it. For example, if you overeat because of stress, consider a stress management course. Develop a strategy to address areas where you’re vulnerable so you can set yourself up for success.

2.  Identify one to three small changes you can make straight away in your diet and exercise habits.  Reassess in a few weeks to see whether your changes are working; then make a few more small changes. Expect to see significant changes in around 12 weeks.

Every day food/drink items I’ve changed in my time include, cutting out:

  • diet coke : replaced by water.
  • fresh orange juice : replaced by milk.
  • full fat lucozade : replaced by water (or lucozade light)
  • a mars bar : replaced by an apple
    (I still eat mars bars and the like, just sometimes on special occasions, or I’ll have snack sized ones – afterall, they help me to work, rest and play!) 😉
  • afternoon snacks : replaced by berries or nuts.
  • bread in sandwiches for lunch : replaced by wholemeal wraps
  • high fat/ high calorie puddings : replaced by muller rice or cereal
    (only if you’re still hungry!)
  • alcohol : some people can do this totally like I have, or just take a month or fortnight off it.

Are there anythings you could change in your diet so that it and you become healthier?

Replace them bit by bit and you can get a healthy balanced diet too.

See more about Nutrition here: Super Lean Regime: Nutrition.

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6 Responses to Diets (that) don’t work

  1. Debs M-C says:

    Did you not have a Mars Bars two days ago? 🙂 😉

    • lornpearson says:

      Ahah!! Well noticed! … I did yes… I still eat mars bars, and snickers (and sausage suppers and chinese meals etc on occasion)…. but just not every day (I maybe used to have a mars bar / snickers / twix out of habit, once every day). 🙂

      Mars bars (and the like, chocolate, chip suppers etc) are now kept for special occasions or when I just feel like having one! 😀 not as a staple every day part of my diet…if that makes sense!? However a mars a day does help me to work, rest and play… 😉

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