5 reasons why fad diets don’t work
Fad diets. You’ve probably heard of a few – from Paleo and Atkins, to Cabbage Soup and Baby Food. There are loads of them, but how, and why, did they become so popular?
When it comes to losing weight, many people want a quick fix, whether it’s to help them get into a new dress for that big occasion or look their best for an upcoming summer getaway. But, a lot of the time, they don’t want to put in the work and would rather take on these whirlwind diets with fast results, rather than embark on a healthy, balanced lifestyle that’ll provide long term benefits. These fad diets might only last for a few weeks, or even days in some cases, but most of the time, they’ll leave you miserable (or in the case of the Cabbage Soup diet, very uncomfortable!).
And the reason they don’t work? Here's five:
1) They aren’t sustainable long-term
Fad diets rarely last because no one enjoys feeling hungry 24/7. If you’re eating small meals which leave your stomach growling, chances are you’ll be reaching for snacks and junk food to make up for it. While this isn’t always a bad thing (we love a good snack, after all!), you need to make sure the way you eat works for you, and not eating enough will leave you grumpy, tired and you’re likely to be missing out on vital nutrients too.
2) They make you more stressed
Eating a low-calorie diet can increase the levels of cortisol in your body (the hormone related to stress). You might find you end up eating more as restrictive diets can result in binging, which can also damage the relationship you have with food.
3) Disruption to your social life
Imagine you’re following the Baby Food diet. You’re invited out for a meal with mates, they’re all tucking into their favourite foods and you, well, what on earth are you going to order?! This might be one of the more extreme examples, but the last thing anyone wants is to count the calories in a vodka soda on a night out or skip that drunken snack on the way home. Missing out on experiences with friends will also have a negative effect on your mental health - is it really worth it?
4) Cutting carbs is no fun
Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet, and they taste amazing too! From a big bowl of pasta to a slice of toast (or three) in the morning, they’re a great energy boost. Instead of cutting carbohydrates from your diet completely, be mindful about the type you’re eating – are they simple or complex? Complex are the better option as they provide a wider variety of nutrients and won’t cause a spike in blood sugar. But, that doesn’t mean you have to stop eating white bread completely, it’s all about balance! You can find out more about the different types of carbs here.
5) They don’t taste nice (or rarely do)
The reason people want a cheat day is so they can eat what they want. Why not do this all the time, just in moderation? Enjoy a slice of cake, but for the rest of the day, try to make healthier choices. The reason you don’t crave baby food or cabbage soup is because they aren’t tasty at all! But, the good news is, you don’t need to eat these foods to be healthy. There are a range of different foods from a range of food groups that offer great taste, numerous health benefits and keep you energised. So, don’t just turn to the latest fad diet in a bid to lose the pounds – do your research and try out some healthier but tasty alternatives to the foods you love.
A diet shouldn’t be a short-term fix. Remember, life is all about balance and you should take the same approach with your diet. Cram in as many fresh, natural foods as you can, venturing into different food groups where possible, but be sure to indulge in that fast food fave at the weekend or if a colleague brings biscuits into the office, who are you to refuse?!
Want more diet information? We’ve explained what macros are in food over on the blog, as well as the difference between the popular Keto diet and a low carb diet.