Workouts & Nutrition

Are Fad Diets a Friend or Foe?

Australia is in the midst of an obesity epidemic and everyone seems to be weighing in on the best way to overcome it. Paleo, CSIRO and intermittent fasting diets are just a few of the latest fads to hit the media. So, are these diets worth all the hype or are Zappers setting themselves up for a big fail?

The lure of something new and different that promises raid weight loss is hard to resist. Particularly, when it has worked for the super slim model or actor promoting it. The problem is that the person marketing that diet may have a completely different lifestyle and body from you.

In life, anything that seems too good to be true, probably is. This applies to eating and weight loss as well. If something is promising a quick fix using super foods then you should be very wary. Particularly, if that diet implies it can change our body chemistry and restricts whole food groups. Also, be aware of claims based on small studies and testimonials.

The problem is that in the short term you may very well see positive changes in your weight. However, sustaining this safely over time is the greatest challenge. Recent studies have shown that in almost every case a fad diet will eventually lead the dieter to regain their weight and sometimes add more too.

Fad diets usually encourage fast weight loss, which has little effect on body fat. The initial weight loss while on a fad diet is mostly water and lean muscle. This will start to make you look good on the scales but not in the mirror. This effect also slows your metabolism so when the diet stops you end up getting fatter.

Zappers may also be under the illusion that they can maintain a fad diet over a long period of time. The problem is that many of these plans are so restrictive that it can be challenging to fit them into your lifestyle. The counting, measuring and deprivation can really affect your mood and sense of enjoyment. Dieters are also hard on themselves if they break the diet. This leads to a negative cycle of guilt and self-loathing.

Depriving yourself of food and therefore important nutrients can also have many health consequences. In the short term it can cause sugar imbalances, mood swings, dizziness and fatigue. Long term it can cause nutrient deficiencies, gastrointestinal problems, social isolation, food obsession and eating disorders. Social media has increased our exposure to diets and the pressure to be thin has increased with a flood of Instagram images and Facebook messages. Some of these diets are simply dangerous. The intermittent diet is not appropriate for many people and doesn’t encourage healthy eating when not fasting. Low carb, high fat diets have been shown to increase cholesterol.

The Paleo diet puts dieters at increased risk of heart disease and eliminates some of our most beneficial foods such as whole grains, legumes and dairy.

The cost of many of these diets is also a huge burden to many people. The problem with Jenny Craig and Lite n Easy is unless you want to stay on these programs forever you are going to regain weight. These companies do not teach healthy eating practices so that when they stop working out your kilojoules and portions you are highly likely to put on all that expensive weight again.

The best plan is one you create yourself that is realistic and easy to maintain. Don’t try to change everything at once but make small changes to eat more of the healthy nutritious food that you like. It’s not necessary to eliminate the high-energy food you treat yourself with completely. Just try to work through having them less frequently.

Surround yourself with like-minded eaters and try to stay positive. It’s great if you have a support network. Create rules for yourself and post them around to remind yourself of what you want to achieve. Keeping a food diary is a great way to keep track of your progress.

Zappers know that exercise is essential so make sure you keep it up. This encourages weight loss and helps you stay positive. Seek help from a dietitian to get you started if you need to.

Like selfie sticks and Snapchat diet fads will always produce something new to seduce us. Just remember to stay strong and remember that we have all evolved since the Paleolithic era.

From @zap_fit