Why Fad Diets Don’t Work for Weight Loss


There are a lot of people who have good intentions when embarking on a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, many of these well-intentioned people jump on the first diet they see featured on television or by reading the latest article in a magazine. There are hundreds of fad diets to choose from. Most are absolutely useless because these diets cannot be maintained long-term. Some may give the person short-term results, but these results cannot be maintained and many of these fad diets actually cause health issues which is exactly the opposite of what these people are looking for in the first place. There are even some medical doctors and certified nutritionists who are promoting and supporting these unhealthy fad diets and other useless nutritional supplements.

My goal with this article is to educate the reader on some of the pitfalls surrounding many of the common diets on the market. I am astonished at the potential issues of many of these popular diets. Several of them pose potential health risks and should be avoided. Make sure to do your own research. Most of what I’m discussing is easily found on the Internet. The objective of improving one’s health and fitness should not cause potential health risks. Ask yourself whether your diet is well-balanced and healthy and whether or not you can sustain your eating plan for years to come. Make sure to always consult with your doctor before starting any type of new dietary plan.

Eating a proper diet is essential to optimal health. It’s important to learn the difference between a good diet and a bad diet which can be harmful to your body. As a certified personal trainer, I have several people come up to me and share their latest diet program every single week. There is no doubt that there are many ways to lose weight, but you can’t compromise your health when following a fad diet that promises weight loss.

With 72% of the U.S. population being overweight and the United States being the world leader in obesity, there are millions of people who want to trim down and lose weight. It seems that almost everyone is looking for that magic pill to help them lose those unwanted pounds. There are literally hundreds of fad diets out there and many of these diets often only provide short-term results of less than one year. Ever wonder what happens to these success stories once the individual goes off their special diet? The people who I see in the gym end up even fatter than they were before they started! The true success of any diet plan is something that can be maintained over the long-term that provides your body with all the vital nutrients to living a healthy life. I’m in the business of making people healthy and I can’t think of one person that has made significant improvements to their health or their body using a fad diet.

Fad Diet Facts

  • 65% of people on fad diets will re-gain all of their weight.
  • 95% of people on fad diets will relapse within 5 years and re-gain all of their weight.
  • The average American starts a new fad diet at least four times a year.
  • Fad diets can increase the risk for diabetes, heart disease, gallbladder, liver and kidney issues.
  • Fad diets are a major cause of eating disorders.

Types of Diets

Intermittent Fasting – It is true that there are numerous studies that backup the health benefits of this type of dieting. Sure, people who follow intermittent fasting will lose weight, but the problem is that most people can’t sustain this type of diet over the long-term. The body needs nutrition to function properly. What about the lean muscle tissue you lose while you are fasting? Lean muscle speeds up metabolism and helps the body burn additional calories at rest. Intermittent fasting can also cause eating disorders and it can elevate cortisol which is a hormone that can cause the body to store fat and burn lean muscle. Intermittent fasting can also cause an obsession with food since you go for many hours without eating. Many people who follow intermittent fasting diets rely heavily on coffee. This can increase blood sugar levels and cause the body to become insulin resistant. Intermittent fasting can also lead to food intolerance and inflation.

Protein Diets – This is another diet that will help you lose weight, but at what cost? A protein only diet will keep you fuller, but what about those vital nutrients you are depriving your body of. Eating balanced meals with a correct ratio of macronutrients is healthier for your body. Protein only diets can put stress on the kidneys and can cause weight gain and energize cancer cells within your body. Also, protein only diets can advance the aging process.

Low Carbohydrate Diets – These diets work in the short-term, but are usually not sustainable in the long-term. A lack of fruits and vegetables and whole grains can cause long-term health issues. These diets most often affect a person’s energy levels which negate your effectiveness in the gym. Low-carb diets stress the body and make it difficult to build muscle also.

Starvation Diets – Starving yourself often has an opposite effect on dieters. If you don’t eat enough calories, your body doesn’t function properly. Besides the assorted health issues that can be caused through malnutrition, people on starvation diets can be affected physically and mentally from this type of extreme dieting. These types of diets can also lead to eating disorders and can negatively affect performance in the gym and cause you to lose lean muscle which is vital for helping you speed up your metabolism and burn additional calories. When following a nutrition plan, always think long-term, not short-term. Eating a nutrient dense and balanced diet is your ticket to good health and long-term weight loss along with including an exercise program that includes weight training and cardio exercise.

Health Issues with Fad Diets

Fad diets can cause serious health problems. Since these types of eating plans often cut out key foods, fad diets may cause the following symptoms:

  • Dehydration
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea and headaches
  • Constipation
  • Inadequate vitamin and mineral intake
  • Loss of hair
  • Mood swings
  • Eating disorders

3 Steps for Following a Healthy Eating Plan

Step #1
Go to your doctor and get a complete physical including blood work so you can review your own hormones. For middle-aged people, this is a key starting place. Also, get a complete physical and review any diet plans with your doctor before starting anything.

Step #2
You don’t have to be miserable when following a healthy eating plan. A quality diet will help you look better, feel better and lose those unwanted pounds. Stick with lean protein foods (chicken breast, egg whites, turkey breast) and complex carbohydrates including whole grain products like brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta and old-fashioned oatmeal. Healthy fats should also be included in your diet (nuts, olive oil, avocados). These types of products are low on the glycemic index (GI) which decrease the likelihood of diabetes and heart disease and also promote your weight loss goals. For the best results, focus on eating 5-6 meals per day. Avoid all sugary sodas and juices. Fast food is a definite area to avoid since it’s very high in calories and loaded with fat, sugar and salt. By eating properly and getting regular exercise, your metabolism will increase which will help you with your weight loss and fitness goals. By just creating a deficit of 500 calories per day (through diet and exercise), the average person will lose 1 pound each week. Remember that you didn’t get fat overnight, so you won’t lose all your excess weight overnight either. It took months and even years to pack on the pounds, so be patient when you’re working on losing them.

Step #3
Lastly, remember that dieting is only one part of the equation when it comes to optimal health. Implementing a fitness plan is also the key to keeping the weight off for a lifetime. By building lean muscle tissue with weight training and burning excess calories through cardio exercise, your metabolism will improve and your body will be optimized for fat burning.

The 6 Components of Optimal Nutrition

  1. Protein – Protein is required for healthy muscles, skin and hair. There are 9 essential amino acids that are very important for optimal health. The average male who is working out should consume between 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. The average female who is working out should consume between .8 and 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Most people fall well below this threshold, so if you are trying to build lean muscle and burn body fat, you might want to review your protein intake. Consuming adequate amounts of protein also helps you feel fuller longer.
  2. Carbohydrates – Carbs are necessary to supply your body with glucose which is the primary source of energy. Good carbs come from whole grain products, fruits and vegetables.
  3. Fats – Fats are required for optimal health. Healthy fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated sources. Nuts, olives and avocados are great sources of monounsaturated fats. Fish and seafood are excellent sources of polyunsaturated fats. Some fats should be avoided like trans-fats and saturated fats. Both types of these fats increase your risk of heart disease.
  4. Vitamins – Vitamins are essential for optimal health and they are considered key components of nutrition. Important vitamins include A, B complex, C, D, E and folate. Vitamin deficiencies can cause osteoporosis, scurvy, a weakened immune system, premature aging, and it can even cause cancer. Many fruits and vegetables are very high in vitamins which supply many more nutrients than you would get from vitamin supplements.
  5. Minerals – Minerals are important for good health. Essential minerals include calcium, zinc, iodine and chromium. A lack of these minerals can cause brittle bones and poor blood oxygenation.
  6. Water – Your body is composed of 60% water and your brain is composed of 70% water. Water is important to maintain proper bodily functions. Most people should drink 8 to 10 glasses of water daily. Drinking plenty of water helps to flush out your system and can also help to curb your appetite.

Foods To Stay Away From

  • Processed Foods – These are foods like cakes, cookies, doughnuts and so many other items you will find on your local grocery store shelves.
  • Refined Sugars – These sugars can cause diabetes and other illnesses and they are found in sodas, deserts, cereals and juices.
  • Fast Food – It’s fast and it’s cheap, but it packs a punch in terms of calories, fat, sugar and salt!
  • Alcohol – These are “dead” calories that slow down your metabolism and decrease important muscle building hormones like testosterone.

Illnesses That You Can Help Prevent By Maintaining a Healthy Diet

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s

Remember, if your goal is to lose weight then it’s extremely important to do it safely. To maintain weight loss for the long-term, you will need to eat a balanced, healthy diet. With the proper diet and exercise plan, you will lose those unwanted pounds without risking your health. Since I’ve embarked on a healthy lifestyle, I’ve never looked and felt better. Along the way, I was blessed with some great mentors that shared with me the secret to living a healthy lifestyle. If you are reading this article, you’ve made a decision to be healthier. Consistency with your health and fitness plan is the key to achieving your overall goals and maintaining optimal health. Best of luck to all of you and feel free to reach out to me if you need any help!

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About Author

Timothy Roach

My name is Timothy Roach and I'm a Certified Master Trainer, Certified Personal Trainer and I'm certified in sports nutrition. I'm also an accomplished amateur bodybuilder and have competed in 16 bodybuilding competitions. See my profile page for more information!

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