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Popular Fad Diets: The Facts

Between 2015-2018, almost a quarter of the US population was on a specific diet at some point. Regardless of how willing people are to try popular fad diets, there is an unprecedented number of individuals that are not reaching their personal health and wellness goals, despite all the special diet “secrets” they have tried. 

More importantly, the number of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes is still on the rise and contributes to leading causes of death.  

How could it be that we have more knowledge and technology than ever before, but have made little progress tackling these public health concerns? Could it be that we are lacking discipline or that the trends are less reliable than we may believe? Could these trends be causing more harm than good? 

Filtering out what is quality diet advice and what is not can be difficult, especially with celebrities and fit people promoting their diets as the “cure-all.” Trends aren’t always all bad, but they may not be the answers to your never-ending questions about why your health progress seems stagnant. 

What is a fad diet?

You may see the term often, but you may also be thinking in your head, “What is a fad diet?” Fad diets are diet trends that may be popular for a short period of time and then fizzle out due to lack of evidence, safety issues, lack of sustainability, or other reasons. However, spotting a popular fad diet has become more difficult over the years.

Needless to say, there are several ways to determine a good diet from a fad.  Let’s look at some of the glaring signs.

BIG PROMISES that require big financial committments

Despite what you read on the internet, there is no secret ingredient, product, or diet to truly help you create habit change.  Yes, even the companies that have seemingly amazing before and after photos. If it seems too good to be true, it more than likely is. Here are some language RED FLAGS to watch out for:

  • “This diet will change your life fast”
  • “This product with alone give you the results you want”
  • “Burn all your body fat with this secret”
  • Fake news “backed by science” claims (this isn’t regulated!!)

Elimination of full food groups without medical reason

We know there is a time and a place for elimination diets, but diet culture has made this the go-to method for achieving ANY health goal. Unfortunately, this comes at a hefty price.  

Eliminating full food groups unnecessarily may seem like the “secret,” but truth be told, you will be missing out on valuable nutrients that could lead to deficiencies. These deficiencies essentially make it harder for your body to work properly because it will always be playing catch up. 

Further, prolonged diet restriction can lead to a huge rebound later, resulting in a guaranteed loss of all your progress and ending up worse than you were before restricting. 

Supplements are required 

If you have to spend a chunk of change on a bunch of pills to help you reach your goals, you may want to ask,” Is there some risky business going on?”  Supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, so, here are a few things to consider. 

  1. Companies claiming they have the secret fat burning supplement are full of it. There is no long-term sustainable “secret” to burning fat. If there was, there would be countless research articles to support it. 
  2. People need to make a living, and sometimes selling sketchy supplements is their means of doing so. 
  3. Fact check the products.  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen promoters make their claims, but have no evidence. Need help? Ask us to look
  4. It isn’t hard for companies to sneak in dangerous ingredients to back up their claims that will consequently impact your health.  You may think you are doing your body a favor but it could be the exact opposite!

How to know a diet isn’t for you

Listen to your body!  Your body will tell you if you are following something that is too restrictive.  Here are some very common indicators to look out for.

  • Feeling disappointed in your discipline/progress
  • Low energy levels
  • Impaired performance
  • Lack of muscle growth and fat loss
  • Yo-yo cycling
  • Stress around food choices
  • Physical manifestations
  • Lack of focus

Feel like you can’t wait to get off your diet so you can eat what you love again?  This is a RED FLAG! When cravings get strong and you feel lethargic and tired, you need to look into other eating patterns. 

A diet shouldn’t feel restrictive.  It should actually feel the very opposite; freeing! Allowing your body to enjoy foods you love while also feeding it valuable nutrients is the most sustainable diet “secret” we have. 

What diet is right for me

Determining what diet is right for you starts with taking the time to really decide what your goals are and what you want from your nutrition. The next step? Learn more about your health and your habits!  Ways you can do this is by:

  • Conversations with health practitioners
  • Labs and diagnostic testing
  • Diet assessments from a registered dietitian
  • Habit and personality assessments
  • Preferences and individual values
  • Establishing realistic goals and desires

Once you have checked these boxes, you can work with your registered dietitian to bring the pieces together and create a plan that will fit you like a glove!

The Bottom Line

Popular fad diets and trends are for EVERYONE while individualized nutrition is for YOU. What works for one person will not work for everyone. The key is finding something that is sustainable, includes ALL the foods you love, has balance, gives your body the energy and essential nutrients you need.  

Cut through the trends, get the help you need, and listen to your body to finally stop with the endless cycle of dieting! 

To get some expert advice on taking control of your nutrition, set up a free consultation with us and we would be glad to help you get on track.

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