fad-diets

Fad Diets vs. Weight Loss Basics

Throughout the small span of years of my existence, I’ve heard countless stories of people attempting weight loss. Whether it be for aesthetic purposes or genuine health concerns, their interest was all the same.

The concept of weight loss has been around for a long time. However, in recent years, weight loss has become a popular trend as influencers around the world share their workout routines and their “What I Eat in a Day” videos.

It’s great that the importance of weight loss is being emphasized again. After all, weight is a huge factor that determines our current and future health. The excess fats that we carry in our bodies can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. It’s no wonder everyone is in a rush to lose weight! 

The problem, however, is the method of weight loss. People often wonder why they lose weight but gain it all back over time. They wonder why they were victims of the yoyo effect. 

When I asked about how they did it, the horrifying answers came trickling through. 

They tried fad diets.

So what is a fad diet? 

In order to know that, we must define what a diet is. 

What is a Diet?

In its simplest definition, our diet is the pattern of food that we habitually eat. 

However, these days, the term “diet” is used in a more connotative form of restriction and fast weight loss. 

In this article, we’ll be using the latter definition. 

What Are Fad Diets and What’s Wrong With Them?

Fad Diets are plans that promote rapid weight loss through the elimination of certain foods that are important to the body. The problem with these diets is that it does not take into account the nutrients that will eventually be depleted from the body. Its major goal is to lose weight fast (which is exactly what people want to see) without factoring in the changes the body undergoes at the chemistry level.

 

The seemingly magical quick fix to weight loss ignores the unique functionality of the body and its complex mechanism. 

On the surface, some fad diets seem to be effective as people see the numbers drop on the scale. However, the numbers drop due to lost water weight and lean muscle. Rather than focusing on building muscle and burning fat, fad diets promote an alarmingly low percentage of macronutrients or focus on a low-calorie count that can be detrimental to the body. 

Sure, the numbers drop temporarily but have you ever stopped to wonder what is happening inside your body?

I’ll say this right off the bat. Extreme dieting for long periods of time is not healthy. I wouldn’t even recommend the extreme diet for short periods of time to individuals who have no underlying health conditions that call for such diets. 

Why Ditch the Fad Diet?

1. Weight Loss and the Yoyo Effect

Fad Diets are not sustainable long term. Most people who lose weight find themselves gaining all the weight back or gain more than what they had lost. 

This is called the yoyo-effect.

The yoyo-effect occurs due to the unsustainability of fad diets in the long run.

Take for example diets such as the Ketogenic diet and Atkins diet which promote low carb intake. 

That right there is a red flag. 

Carbohydrate intake is essential for energy as it is our primary fuel source. In the Philippines, the recommended percentage of carbohydrates for healthy adults is about 60% of our total caloric intake. It is the largest in the macronutrient group. Restricting this essential nutrient has detrimental effects in the long run and is not a realistic pattern of eating.

The fruit and juicing diets are also examples of unsustainable methods of weight loss. These types of diets restrict other nutrient consumption that are actually essential fuel sources. Diets such as these have a low caloric count which consequently leads to weight loss. However, it is unrealistic to maintain this pattern of eating. 

Fruits and vegetables contain fewer calories and are mainly essential to the body for its fiber, vitamin and mineral content. It is not meant to be the main fuel source that give us energy to perform our daily tasks.

Therefore, once a person can no longer keep up with fad diets ( due to the unrealistic restrictions) the weight comes back. More often than not, people go on a binge due to their cravings cause by unrealistic restrictions. This leads to an excess caloric intake hence the weight gain.

* Please note that healthy individuals with no underlying health problems should not self-prescribe these extreme diets. There are cases, however, where patients are prescribed specific diets under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

2. Nutrient Imbalance 

Ever wonder why people keep saying it’s important to have a balanced diet?

It’s because a balanced diet contains food that has a mix of different nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fat, water, vitamins and minerals) which is important for our metabolism.

Take for example the Cabbage Soup Diet. It claims to shed off pounds by eating nothing but cabbage soup and 1-2 other foods. This diet is said to be done in about a week or so and will show definite results. This is a perfect example of a diet that lacks a sufficient amount of macronutrients as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables. 

 It is advised that a variety of foods be eaten in order to get these nutrients from their most natural source. By eating a variety of foods, the likelihood of consuming different nutrients is increased. Fad diets, however, have strict restrictions on foods, therefore, limiting the variety in the diet.

As mentioned earlier, carbohydrates are recommended to be 60% of your caloric intake. For proteins,  it is 15% and fats are 25% of your caloric intake. 

These percentages are slightly modified depending on certain factors such as age or athletic fitness goals. It is very important to consult your dietitian or physician for specific fitness goals or illnesses. 

3. Fad Diets Will Make You Unhappy 

Living life with constant rigid food restrictions can make you unhappy. The lack of energy and confused state of your body can set you up for binging and other eating disorders. It can leave you craving for things on your “do not eat list” and eating them in large portions to compensate for what is missing. 

Aside from not getting a variety of foods in their diet, individuals can fall into an unhealthy mindset of constant calorie counting. Anorexia and bulimia are common examples of illnesses that have caused people to develop distorted images of themselves due to their relationship with food.

This poor relationship with food will eventually channel into other aspects of your life leaving you miserable all the time. 

Weight Loss: The Very Basics 

Everyone’s weight loss journey is different and can have underlying factors that determine individual success. For a more general and simplified version for weight loss, keep reading. 

  1. Balanced Diet (Make it a Lifestyle)

60% 15% 25%

I repeatedly use this percentage to emphasize the importance of each macronutrient for every Filipino. Add on to this the right daily consumption of fruits and vegetables and you have the basics down. No extreme restrictions, no liquid diets and no starvation. Remember that we are aiming to form habits that are sustainable and can be incorporated in our day-to-day lives. 

For ideas and samples on what your meals can look like, check out the Pinggang Pinoy. It is a food guide used in the Philippines that helps Filipinos make healthy choices. In the food guide, you’ll find recommended portion sizes and sample meals for each age group. 

The categories are as follows:

Kids, teens, adults, older persons and the pregnant and lactating.

For more information, check out the DOST website.

For international food guides, be sure to check the government recommendation for your country. 

2. Caloric Deficit 

caloric-deficit

A caloric deficit is consuming fewer calories than you are burning. In order to lose weight, it is essential to have a caloric deficit by changing how much you eat and by exercising daily. 

Take for example someone who consumes 1700 calories but burns 2000 calories in a day. The caloric deficit is 300 calories.

3500kcal= 1 lb of fat 

3500kcal/7 days a week= 500 calories a day 

So in order to lose 1 lb of fat a week ( 1-2 lbs per week is a healthy range), you must have a caloric deficit of 500 kcal per day.

It is important to note that the quality of foods consumed must be maintained and that you are consuming the recommended amount of calories for your age.

For more information and a specifically catered plan for your needs, please consult a Nutritionist-Dietitian. 

3. Exercise 

Exercise and a balanced diet go hand in hand. To get into a safe caloric deficit, we must be exercising to burn those extra calories that we have consumed. 

It is recommended to have 30mins to an hour of exercise 3-5 days a week. A good combination of cardio and exercises that increase bone strength are good starting points. 

For tips on how to make exercise a part of your lifestyle, check out the How to Love Exercising article

Final Thoughts on Weight Loss

As humans, we are enticed to think that faster is better. In this case, fad diets ARE NOT. 

The temporary weight loss is nothing compared to the hard work and the habits you form from practicing a balanced diet and exercising regularly. 

There really is no fast way to lose weight. To safely and effectively lose weight it takes time, patience and a lot of discipline. Keeping the weight off is also a result of the habits you form and the lifestyle change you decide to have in your life. 

 Invest in the long run and never cheat yourself for the sake of quick and temporary fixes.

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2 Replies to “Fad Diets vs. Weight Loss Basics”

  1. Excellent post, Josh! Keep up the good work. Hopefully more people will take on the lifestyle approach! Blessings!

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The Upward Fall is a blog owned and created by Joshleen Marmol. It is aimed to inspire and help people improve their lives through health and wellness.