At CD Nutrition and Fitness, we are all about making lifestyle changes NOT fad diets. The best “diet” for you (and I use that word in a literal sense as it could be for weight gain as well as weight loss) is the one that you can adhere to best. If you don’t like to eat chicken, bread, pasta, eggs, sushi etc. then they really have no place in your diet plan. There will always be some alternatives.
A definition of a fad diet is:
” idiosyncratic diets and eating patterns that promote short-term weight loss, usually with no concern for long-term weight maintenance, and enjoy temporary popularity”
One of the main hints that a particular diet is a fad diet is if it promotes food elimination or on the other hand is promoting a product as a superfood (for some sort of additional fat loss or muscle gain usually). Some examples of elimination diets are atkins, South beach diet, paleo diet, eat clean diet, vegan diet. Some examples of the latter are the cabbage soup diet, lemon detox diet, apple cider vinegar detox, HCG diet etc. And I’m sure there are MANY others as there are a lot of people out there looking to make a quick buck. The rest of this article will be split into two sections. Firstly, explaining why elimination diets are not necessary/helpful and the second part will explain why there is no need for these “super fat loss diets”.
Many people who have tried to diet at one stage or another have eliminated some specific foods from their diet in an attempt to lose weight. Typical items that people eliminate are white veggies, pasta, bread, gluten, sugar, meat, pastries etc. The first thing that happens mentally when you eliminate a certain food group is that it becomes even more desirable, even if you didn’t eat that much of it before! What quite often happens is that people will be “good” for a little while and then all of a sudden find their “forbidden” food somewhere and PIG OUT! They’ve worked hard up until this point and created a good calorie deficit and can easily reverse all that hard work very quickly. It doesn’t even matter what the food item is that they’ve eliminated!
A better approach would be to determine your caloric and macronutrient needs firstly. Then focus primarily on eating whole unprocessed foods and where possible fit the typically “forbidden” foods into the plan. What this means is they can eat what they want IN MODERATION! Key point is that the food item is not forbidden but this doesn’t mean you can go back to your old ways of eating an entire cheesecake after your main meal (as an example for a fat loss client).
It is important to note that many elimination diets (for the purpose of weight loss) can definitely work and the reason is that by eliminating some food group, calories are cut and a calorie deficit is created. This doesn’t teach good nutrition practices as it is not a long term sustainable approach.
The other approach to fad diets is where a particular food group is seen as a superfood that when added can promote additional fat loss. Sounds like the snake oil salesman right?! Some of these plans do not mention any changes to your current diet and in this case it is hard to see how adding anything in addition can help to create a calorie deficit. Some examples of these are bulletproof coffee and apple cider vinegar. The other approach (which really is another elimination diet) is excluding ALL other foods except the “magical superfood”. This is really very simple. You go from eating a normal diet around maintenance calories and you switch to the cabbage soup diet which totals around 500 calories. It is pretty obvious that you will lose weight. Initially, a large portion of this will be due to water weight losses and electrolyte balance. These sorts of diets are all about short term gain with no regard for the long term pain. Likely aspects of these diets are inadequate macronutrients, micronutrients and fibre. If protein is insufficient, then it is highly likely that there will be a loss of lean body mass and a drop in metabolism especially with a very large calorie deficit. (will also depend on the person’s body fat %) The other common factor is that there is typically no plan for when you go back to eating “normally”. These types of diets do not teach anything about good nutrition. Good nutrition should focus on health, performance and physique NOT solely on dropping digits on the scales.
Fad diets are short term diets aimed at people who are looking for the magic pill. Unfortunately, the truth is that if you want to reach your ideal physique, be in good health and perform at your best a fad diet is not the right choice. As we say here at CD Nutrition & Fitness, “It’s a lifestyle”. You have one body and it has to last you a lifetime, exercise and good nutrition LONG TERM are far superior to any short term fad diets.
Remember, the best diet is the one that you can adhere to and sustain long term.