Trigger warning: mention of disordered eating.
There are so many fad diets out there, most of which make weight loss claims and promises that are neither effective or sustainable.
So, as for why fad diets don’t work…
Well, let’s first unpack what a fad diet is.
They are often built on the deprivation and demonisation of food groups in order to lose weight rapidly. For example, no-carb fad diets deprive the body of an essential nutrient (carbohydrates) and then encourage the mindset that ‘carbs are bad for you’ or ‘carbs make you fat’.
This mentality can be extremely damaging to a person’s relationship with food, and may lead to disordered eating and nutrient deficiencies, which can cause issues with your body’s overall health and performance.
Fad diets are also, almost always, sold on quick weight loss results – which, as mentioned, are rarely sustainable.
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Why fad diets don’t work
Let’s dive a little deeper into the deprivation, demonisation and quick-fix notion of fad diets – because both individually and together, they’re the reason they do not work.
Now, some people might associate depriving themselves of food groups with cutting calories, which should equal successful weight loss success. But that is not the case.
While yes, you need to be in a calorie deficit to successfully lose weight and maintain the loss, you do not have to deprive yourself to get there.
Deprivation of food groups has many negative effects – both mentally and physically.
Ditching certain foods may give you short-term physical results, but it’s nearly impossible to maintain for the long term. That’s due to the restrictive nature, making it hard to commit to.
It also just takes the pleasure out of eating. You should be enjoying the food you’re eating!
While there is still research to be done, it’s suspected that when you cut out foods like chocolate, chips, ice cream or pizza (those foods traditionally deemed as ‘naughty’), it can lead you to craving those more than before.
As already mentioned, cutting out – or demonising – certain food groups can mean you’re not getting all of your much-needed macro and micronutrients – such as protein, carbs, fat, fibre, vitamins and minerals. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies, which may affect overall health.
For example, let’s imagine you opt for a low or no-carb diet to lose weight. By not eating carbs, you’re not only neglecting your body’s energy stores and bodily function linked to carb intake, you’re also likely to miss out on getting enough fibre, vitamins and minerals. This can lead to side effects like constipation and muscle cramps.
Alternatively, consuming too much of a particular food group may also affect your health. For example, let’s just say you’re eating a too high amount of carbs and not enough protein or fat – this can lead to amino acid deficiencies that over time may cause organ failure if left untreated.
Like deprivation, demonising food groups can create negative connotations when consuming them and may lead to disordered eating. If you or anyone you know needs help or support here, there are plenty of resources out there.
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Do you know the saying, ‘slow and steady wins the race’?
Well, the same can be said for embarking on a health journey. Building new habits and seeing lasting results takes dedication and persistence.
Fad diets imply that you can achieve rapid weight loss, which in some cases might be true, but, and this is a big BUT, it’s not sustainable or healthy for your body. Why? Well, because of the aforementioned deprivation and demonisation techniques of fad diets.
Quick-fix fad diets also don’t address underlying individual behaviours and experiences with food and weight loss.
The overall advantage of gradual weight loss is that you don’t need to deprive yourself. You can eat in a more flexible, accommodating way. Now, that’s a lot more enjoyable if you ask us!
So what does work?
Whether your goal is to lose weight, maintain weight or even gain muscle, the most sustainable way to achieve results is to determine your own individual calorie and macronutrient targets and reach them by eating a balanced diet.
And guess what? That means you can eat everything you love, in moderation of course!
For personalised nutrition plans catered to your individual goals and needs, Equalution can help. We don’t cut out any food groups (unless a dietary requirement or allergy) and create custom meal plans packed with all the foods you love to eat. Yes, that includes pizza, pasta, ice cream and more!
For more information on what we do and how it can also strengthen your relationship with food, click here.
As a general rule of thumb, eating a balanced diet with whole foods and keeping moderately active will not only help keep you as healthy as possible, it’ll contribute to you reaching your goals!