It doesn’t matter who you are—most of us at one point or another in our lives will want to lose weight.
Perhaps you want to shed a few pounds for a beach vacation, or you’re looking to lose a serious amount of weight in order to get back on track with a healthier, new you.
Either way, you’ll be looking for a diet or weight management plan that can help you reach your desired goals.
The problem is that there is no magic pill for weight loss; however, year upon year, new “miracle diets” come into fashion: these are often fad diets that play on your emotions, promising to fulfill all your weight loss dreams faster than you could ever imagine. How? Because they have the magic formula that your doctor doesn’t want you to know about.
Sound too good to be true? This is because it usually is!
What Is a Fad Diet?
If I were to put it simply, a fad diet is one which offers dramatic weight loss results fast by directing you to either cut out huge food groups or buy overpriced weight loss supplements, including pills and teas.
These diets are nothing new and crop up time and time again with each year that goes by. Most of the time, they quickly disappear not long after gaining recognition.
Fad diets usually use powerful advertising campaigns that pull on your emotions and tell you how your favorite celebrity and bod goal inspiration used their diet to lose 100 pounds in just 2 weeks. Of course, you can be just like your favorite celebrity!
These diets are usually incredibly drastic. Let’s use one of my favorite examples: The “Lemonade Diet.” This diet appeared a number of years ago and was touted as the wonder diet that helped Beyoncé lose over 20 pounds in 14 days for an upcoming movie role.
I mean come on, who doesn’t want to look like Mrs. Carter right?
Well, Beyoncé may well have lost 20 pounds on this diet, but considering your daily nutritional intake on this plan consists solely of liquids, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising! The whole idea of this particular diet was to dump your regular meals for a mixture of water, lemons, organic maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. For an entire 14 days!
I did try it myself while it was all the rage…and lasted a whole hour! If your attempt lasted longer, then you, my friend, have a willpower made of titanium!
Can Fad Diets Work?
Fad diets can indeed work for most people, but only in the short term.
You probably know that the only physiological way to lose weight is to create a caloric deficit. This means you need to consume fewer calories than you burn every day.
So of course, a diet that significantly restricts calories and cuts out major food groups will create such a deficit, and you will likely lose weight—in the short term.
In the long term, however, these kinds of diets are simply not sustainable.
Think about it this way:
Could you live for years on just liquids yet manage to get on with your daily life and remain healthy? No, definitely not!
Therefore, if you haven’t followed a weight loss plan that can sustainably change your eating habits in the long term, you will most likely return to your old ways.
Remember, regardless of whether you lose 1 or 100 pounds, if you go back to a life of eating junk food and take-out not only will you definitely regain the weight you lost, you will most likely gain even more weight!
More Bad News
You many not know that these types of extreme diets can be a psychological trigger that actually cause you to gain weight if they don’t work.
Let me explain:
Fad diets don’t work for everyone. Imagine for one second you are desperate to lose 10 pounds to fit into your wedding dress—it means everything to you at this moment in time.
So you try this new diet that people are touting as a miracle weight loss program on which they lost 10 pounds in one week.
You do it.
You pin all your hopes on it.
One week passes, and despite strictly sticking to the rules and rigorous weigh-ins, you haven’t lost any weight. Now you feel 10 times worse, your motivation is lower than ever, and you binge. Sound familiar?
Why Don’t Fad Diets Work for Everyone?
Typically, if you don’t have a lot of weight to lose, you won’t lose a drastic amount of weight in a short period of time.
Take for example the TV show The Biggest Loser. They have people on that show who are weighing in at 250–300 pounds, and when they start dieting and working out, the pounds lost at the weekly weigh-in are huge: some of those guys lose up to 15 pounds in one week!
But once they lose a large percentage of that weight and start getting closer to average numbers, the amount of weight they can lose each week drops to as little as one solitary pound.
Because they had a lot of weight to lose to begin with! Typically, if you are severely overweight, creating a huge caloric deficit with a fad diet will make the pounds melt away quickly because you have that excess weight to lose.
But if you’re starting at 130 pounds, you don’t really have 10 or 20 pounds to lose, so you won’t!
Therefore, although it sounds clichéd, the only sustainable way to lose weight is by creating a modest caloric deficit with a nutritionally rich and balanced diet and regular exercise.
The bottom line is, fad diets are just that: a fad!
Now drop us a comment and let us know, what’s the craziest diet you ever tried? Did it work? For how long? Would you do it again?
Thanks to Helen Sanders of Health Ambition for this guest post! Helen is the chief editor at HealthAmbition.com and says, “Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.”