Get The Skinny On Fad Diets

Throughout every decade, there have been popular diets that promised quick weight loss. In some cases, components of a fad diet may have nutritional benefits but often the quick weight loss may simply be attributed to water loss. When people lose weight quickly through a restrictive diet, they often gain it back again in a very short time. It is also important to be aware that some fad diets deprive the dieter of important nutrients that are needed for long-term well-being. Here are some examples of fad diets through the decades:

  • 1930s - The Hollywood Grapefruit Diet consisted of eating half a grapefruit before (or in place of) each meal.
  • 1950s - The Cabbage Soup Diet allowed unlimited consumption of a low-calorie, high fiber soup.
  • 1970s - The Instant Breakfast Diet involved replacing breakfast with a powdered drink.
  • 1980s - The Low Fat Diet relied on low-fat (but often heavily processed) foods, including low-fat frozen dinners.
  • 1990s - The Ornish “East More, Weight Less” Diet advocated filling up on very low-fat vegetarian foods.
  • 2000s - The Atkins Diet encouraged a high-fat, high-protein diet with minimal carbohydrates.
  • 2010s - Elimination Diets advocated cutting out certain ingredients or food groups, for example: gluten, sugar, dairy, anything white.

Read on to learn more about today’s fad diets and gain some strategies for adopting sensible healthy eating habits for long-term health and well-being.

The Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Weight

The statistics around obesity for adults in the US are fairly stark. According the US Department of Health and Human Services, nearly one in three adults in the United States is overweight and nearly two in three are considered obese. Obesity leads to any number of health issues such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, liver disease and more. In addition, those who are obese are at a higher risk for certain types of cancer and heart attacks and have a shorter life expectancy. The reason fad diets exist and have persisted for so long is that there are so many people searching for a way to lose weight.

The Truth About Trendy Diets

Many fad diets are popular because in addition to the promise of fast weight loss, they offer structure and a plan of action. Many people struggle with how to approach eating in a world full of fast food, easy snacks and large portions, and are lured in by the almost instant gratification promised by many fad diets. Unfortunately, trendy diets usually do not work for a variety of reasons. In many cases, a diet may be too restrictive to be sustainable. When the dieter “goes off” the plan, they may compensate by binging on large quantities of unhealthy foods. In fact, studies show that fad diet results generally last a very short while and are followed by a rebound period of weight gain. In other instances, a trendy diet may cause a deficiency in key nutrients, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals or fiber. This can result in additional health problems.

An Inside Look at Current Fad Diets

It is important to note that not all diets are “bad”. Some do offer key benefits and can help people lose weight and even stay on track with weight loss. It is important, however, to use caution when trying out a diet, and to consult with a healthcare provider before starting a new diet or exercise regime. Here is an overview of some current fad diets:

  • Paleo - This is also referred to as the “Paleolithic” or “Caveman” diet because it focuses on lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, which are the same foods that cavemen or hunter-gatherers would have eaten. Critics say this diet can result in nutrient deficiencies, such as calcium and vitamin B, as it omits certain foods such as dairy products and whole grains.
  • Keto This very low carb, high fat diet claims to help people lose weight, lower insulin levels and regulate blood sugar. The Keto diet tries to force the body into using ketone bodies (which are produced in the liver from stored fat) as fuel, instead of relying on glucose (which comes from carbohydrates). Critics say this diet comes with many risks: nutrient deficiencies and constipation from the lack of fruits and vegetables, liver and kidney problems, and brain fog from the lack of carbohydrates.
  • Werewolf - This is also known as the “Lunar” diet as it involves consuming only water, vegetable and fruit juices during a 24-hour period during the full moon and new moon. While regular fasting can lead to weight loss, critics say it is not sustainable (and may not be safe) in the long run.
  • Whole30 - This diet works on the premise of eliminating sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy and focusing on making better food choices. Proponents claim this diet can reduce internal inflammation and boost energy. Critics say this diet can result in nutrient deficiencies, as it omits certain foods.

Strategies for Long-Term Weight Loss Success

Most people think that dieting is the key to weight loss, but science continues to refute this theory. By restricting calories, a person’s metabolism can actually slow down. Instead, focus on staying active and strive to consume a well-balanced diet, consisting of predominantly whole, unprocessed foods. Here are some tips for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight: 

  • Consult a healthcare provider. Your doctor may have specific recommendations for your ideal weight based on your specific health conditions, your age and your gender.
  • Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables and ensure your diet includes an ample amount of fiber, healthy fats and healthy carbs.
  • Avoid processed foods as much as possible.
  • Drink 64 ounces of water each day.
  • Eat slowly and savor each bite.
  • Consider keeping a food journal. This can teach you a lot about your food choices.
  • Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking or swimming, every day.
  • Eat until you feel about 80 percent full.
  • Consult with a nutritionist to ensure your food portions are appropriate.
  • Set small goals. For example, if you are trying to lose 10 pounds, set 5 smaller goals for 2 pounds each.

Echo Lake focuses on a healthy lifestyle with delicious and nutritious meals and a wide variety of fitness programs. Contact us to schedule an in-person or virtual tour of our luxury retirement community in Malvern, Pennsylvania.