We live in a world inundated by diet suggestions. From print media to social media, we are badgered 24/7 by claims that some diet or the other is the “perfect diet” that will give us our “perfect body”. And the question at the top of any discerning individual’s mind is – Do these diets actually work?
It’s definitely better to be safe than sorry when it comes to following a diet. There are diets which claim to cause exponential weight loss, but in fact, only end up causing long-term damage to one’s body. In the worst case scenario, a bad diet could even cause death!
Keeping this in mind, it would be in your best interest to learn everything you can about fad diets; so that you can identify and avoid them before they derail your health and fitness program, or worse.
What is a fad diet?
A fad diet is nothing but a series of simple dietary procedures, that come attached with unrealistic claims of losing weight or slimming down your body at an unrealistic pace. For instance, if you have come across ads that claim that their proven solution will make you lose weight in three days, then it is nothing but a fad diet. When people fall prey to fad diets, they lay the blame on those who promote such spurious solutions, and rightly so. But the truth is that those who opt for such diets are also part of the problem.
Why do we adopt fad diets?
The fact is that fad diets wouldn’t be popular if there wasn’t a demand for them. A lot of people are not ready to commit to a long-term process of losing weight and maintaining their health. Rather, they want instant results, which are evident by the huge number of adverts claiming to help you lose weight in three days, seven days and so on. To lose weight quickly, people get lured into trying these diets. Fad diets are usually tried by people who are impatient and want to see immediate results. So the ultimate solution to this problem is to create awareness among the people that losing weight takes effort and lot of time. There are no shortcuts, such as fad diets, which can help you meet that objective.
How to identify a fad diet?
There are a lot of people promoting different types of diets from DASH diet, to military diet, and so on. But how to identify a fad diet from among this ocean of diets? Well, here are few simple ways you can do that:
- The claims made are unrealistic.
- They will claim to help lose exorbitant amounts of weight in a very short span of time, like 12 kgs in a week.
- They don’t offer any proper verifiable scientific proof.
- They don’t have any published study supporting them.
- Their claims are only supported by a single person, or a selected few people.
- The diet is extreme.
- The diet is disproved by scientists and experts.
- The diet will put sudden restrictions on eating and drinking, and involve crash dieting.
- These diets are usually like shooting stars – they are famous for a time but are eventually dismissed in favor of the next fad.
How do these fad diets become so popular?
There are some tricks that these companies use that make these fad diets popular. They market their products through psychological manipulation rather than sound reasoning. Here are a few factors that can account for the popularity of fad diets:
- Endorsements by celebrities.
- Quick weight loss promises.
- Eliminating only a small number of foods from the diet.
- Peer pressure.
How can a fad diet harm you?
You need to understand that your body needs a range of nutrients right from carbs and proteins, to micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. Cutting down on these nutrients will have long term and short term serious consequences such as:
- Muscle cramps
- Severe constipation or diarrhea
- Mood changes
- Constant hunger
When all these problems persist for a prolonged period of time, there will be chronic deficiencies leading to skin and hair problems, vision deficits, cognitive decline, bone brittleness, etc.
So, as you would have realized by now, fad diets will do you more harm than good. Critically examine any diet plan before you adopt it, to ascertain that it is not a fad diet. Take the help of a doctor or dietician if you are unsure. Above all, remember that your greatest weapon against a fad diet is simply the understanding that losing weight and building the body you desire is a long and intensive process. There are no shortcuts when it comes to nutrition and fitness.