A plate with a measuring tape and some grapes representing fad diets

What are Fad Diets?

Fad diets are commonly idiosyncratic diets and eating patterns that provide short-term weight loss, with little or no emphasis on long-term weight management. These diets usually enjoy temporary popularity.*

Fad diets usually have catchy names that focus on single nutrients. Examples of fad diets include the South Beach Diet, Zone Diet, Dr Atkins’s New Diet Revolution, Cabbage Soup Diet, Grapefruit Diet, The Good Carbohydrate Revolution, Paleo Diet, to name a few.​

While the South Beach Diet draws attention for its switch from ‘bad’ fats to ‘good’ fats, the Zone Diet encourages the consumption of calories from carbohydrate, protein and fat in a balanced ratio.

The Atkins Diet has been made popular for its limited carbohydrate intake that has reportedly resulted in significant weight loss for its dieters.

Related: Energy Balance: The Only Diet That Really Works

Why We Want to Try Fad Diets

When losing weight is a challenge for us, fad diets start to look pretty good. We start to think to ourselves: “Hey, this could work!” or “Why not? After all, we’ve tried everything else.”

Many of these fad diets are also popularised by celebrities like movie stars and Instagram sensations.

Fad diets promise quick fixes – and that is what draws us in. We want a quick fix rather than gradual and sustainable weight loss following a healthy diet.

Fad diets also tend to focus on certain food groups. The "No-Carb Diet" which has gained some traction here in Singapore judging from the number of Facebook groups. We want to believe that by simply cutting out carbs we will be able to lose the weight that has been with us for years.

Some fad diets have strict rules on eating practices. The idea that we can "simply follow these strict rules" and quickly lose weight is also enticing.

Why Fad Diets Seem to Work

We get hooked because we want a quick fix. And start to believe these fad diets are miracle eating programmes when we read testimonial after testimonial by dieters who claim to have lost weight following these popular diets.

Because fad diets often omit certain foods or entire food groups from its menu, fast and significant weight loss can be achieved if you follow these diets religiously.

However, the results are usually temporary. Losing an excessive amount of weight in a short period of time is usually due to losing water weight. Losing fat is a gradual process. In other words, there is no quick way to trim fat in your body permanently.

Pitfalls of Fad Diets

Being on these fad diets based on strict rules requires a great level of motivation and self-determination from the dieter. How long can we keep to such a rigid diet?

Some fad diets go even further. They put the pressure on the dieter to make choices that are excessively restrictive. For example, the Cabbage Soup Diet limits intake to a large amount of cabbage soup over seven days.

Once positive results of weight loss are achieved or we can no longer follow the overly restrictive food diets, the dieter often forgoes the diet plan and falls back to old eating habits. We skip our fruits and vegetables like we used to and drink our sugary beverages. Before we know it, we have gained back the lost weight and, in some cases, gained some kilos.

There are also other side effects. Some of these diet plans may lead to nutrient deficiencies, constipation, dehydration, fatigue and result in low mood as well.

Ditching Fad Diets

If we really want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, we have to stop ourselves from jumping on the next fad to lose weight fast. We have to wise up!

When we see our favourite celebrity looking svelte on the latest diet fad, we need to remind ourselves that following their diet may do us more harm than good.

That will be much better than getting disappointed by the non-sustainable results from fad diets. For long-term weight loss, we are better off adopting healhier weight loss approaches.

Effective Weight Loss Diets

An effective weight loss diet is one that is balanced and healthy. You should be able to enjoy a variety of foods in moderation. You should also be controlling your daily calories intake without obsessively counting calories.

To lose weight, make exercise part of your everyday routine to burn calories. Losing weight is about burning more than you are consuming. There is just no other way.

Healthy strategies for weight loss include:

  • Eating a variety of foods
  • Minimising the intake of saturated and trans fats
  • Eating two servings of fruits and two servings of vegetables daily
  • Choosing lean protein and switching to wholegrain which makes us feel full
  • Avoiding empty calories such as sweetened beverages, sweets, etc
  • Watching your food portion sizes
  • Practising mindful eating and exercise
  • Incorporating regular physical activity into your daily life

The best diet is simply a lifestyle that includes food you enjoy, exercise and healthy habits.

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* Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_faddism


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