The Skinny on Fad Diets

by Donna Quirk, MBA RD LD
LMC Clinical Nutrition Manager

With all the focus on weight and obesity, it isn’t surprising that millions of people try the latest fad diets and weight-loss products. Unfortunately, most are terribly disappointed. I talked about it recently in this interview on WLTX.

The bottom line is simple: If a diet or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
When evaluating a plan or product, steer clear if they make the following claims:

Rapid Weight Loss
Slow, steady weight loss is more likely to last than dramatic weight changes. Healthy plans aim for a loss of no more than ½ pound to 1 pound per week. If you lose weight quickly, you’ll lose muscle, bone and water. You also will be more likely to regain the pounds quickly afterwards.

Quantities and Limitations
Stay away from diets that allow unlimited quantities of any food, such as grapefruit and cabbage soup. It’s boring to eat the same thing over and over and hard to stick to. Avoid any diet that eliminates or severely restricts entire food groups, such as carbohydrates.

Specific Food Combinations
There is no evidence that combining certain foods or eating foods at specific times of day will help with weight loss.

Rigid Menus
Limiting food choices or following rigid meal plans can be an overwhelming, frustrating, and distasteful task.

No Need to Exercise
Regular physical activity is essential for good health and healthy weight management. The key to success is to find physical activities that you enjoy and then to aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days of the week.

And finally, when considering any new diet, always ask yourself: “Can I eat this way for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, the plan is not for you.

Adapted from “Stay Away from Fad Diets”. The American Dietetic Association. Accessed September 9, 2011.

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