Food Topics

Why Fad Diets Fail

Ever eat a diet online and have it not work for you? This article will explain some of the “whys.”

“Let it rain, a day a week a year. Let it rain, 1,000 years a day” -Samael, Rain. By howdy, did it rain. I got slammed by my internship, but things are calming down as I finish things up where I can start writing my blog posts again!

We are just about five months into 2019, which means a good portion of people have lost interest in their New Year’s Resolutions;  like dieting for weight loss or health improvement.  There are so many buzzwords being thrown around in the dieting world trying to get you to buy their products. Things are now marketed as gluten-free, fat-free, or organic to try and sell themselves as a healthier option than their counterparts, regardless of their impact on the environment or your health. Why do these diets succeed in getting your time, money, and energy when a majority of them don’t work?

A rose by any other name:  Whether it’s the Atkins diet, the Paleo diet, or the most recent Keto diet, they all have one thing in common:  They are extremely low carbohydrate and high in fat and protein.  The Atkins diet had a rise in popularity, and then fell.  There was a rise with the Paleo diet, but that also fell in popularity.  Now Keto is all the rage.  Why does it seem like every few years we get the same kind of diet re-emerging, like a rotting corpse from a cheesy 80’s horror movie?  For starters, each of these has their own spin on the diet, with Paleo focusing more on raw foods than the other two.  

Arm yourself with the Silver bullet:  Wouldn’t it be great if there was only one thing in your diet that you could get rid of that would make you lose a shitton of weight really fast and turn you into some sort of super-sexy beast of a person?  What about if there was a pill you could take to turn you into the dictionary definition of beauty?  Wake the fuck up Sleeping Beauty, that shit ain’t real.  But that doesn’t stop pill pushers and diet planners from pretending they’re living in a fantasy land.  They’ll tell you to cut out certain foods because they’re fat making.  They’ll tell you to gulp down all these supplements and melt those pounds away.  Buy their book to discover the secrets you your body!  In reality, most fad diets you hear about don’t work because they’re not sustainable.  This means that, much like a silver bullet, once you use it, it’s no longer effective.  For most people, fad diets stop working after a certain point.

Time is not on your side:  Your cousins wedding is next month, and you want to drop 100 pounds (or about 45.5 kg) before then.  Here’s what I will tell you:  Let’s go to the nearest hardware store, and I will hack off 100 lbs/45.5kg worth of your body.  Losing large amounts of weight, regardless if it’s from diet and exercise or some crazy dietetic intern, is not healthy.  Many people from those extreme weight loss shows report having joint issues, rapid weight gain, and other health issues caused by their rapid weight loss from extreme dieting and exercise.

Secret secret, I got a secret: Ever notice that those people who try and sell you some bullshit oils, supplements, or meal plans tell you that the government/scientists/doctors are lying to you, and that you should trust them to cure your woes? Most fad diets are based on anecdotal evidence with a slight basis in science. For example, the Military Diet states you can lose up to 10 lbs in 1 week (which, for the record, is not endorsed by any military). The way the diet works is severe caloric restriction. You will eat between 1,100 and 1,400 calories a day, which for most people is way too little calories to be sustainable. Basically, the reason why you’re going to lose weight is you’re not eating. No need for a fancy diet name, just don’t eat. See how much weight you lose as you starve yourself. Of course, I don’t recommend that because of several nutritional concerns, but what do I know? I only went to school to learn how to promote health and nutrition.

Marketing Doesn’t Lie, does it?: You notice how most diets are promoted by young, athletic people or celebrities? They also have badass names, like Code Red, or are named after “experts” (whether or not they might not be an expert in nutrition). The marketing behind these diets are designed to trick you. There is not many diets that use larger people to promote their diet. Why? Because it looks more credible to use someone who already looks healthy to promote their diet. People in the western world, for the most part, are concerned with weight loss over health. However, instead of listening to those who focus more on general health, they listen to those talking about rapid weight loss. That said, I am now promoting* a new diet: The Broken Glass Diet. Glass is calorie free, and will fill you up quickly, and is very slow to digest, so you won’t feel hungry. Plus, there’s rapid weight loss as you tear apart your stomach and intestines!
*This is a satirical promotion aka not a real promotion, do not actually do this. I am not legally liable if you’re dumb enough to eat broken glass. Do not eat broken glass. I repeat, DO NOT eat broken glass.

What do you think about fad diets? Did you try one? How did it work? Feel free to comment it!

By The Nutrition Punk

I am a dietitian living in Portland, Oregon. I write about a variety of nutrition and heath topics, with the goal of improving people's understanding of food and nutrition so they may be empowered against all the misinformation that is out there.

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