8 Reasons to Forget About Fad Diets

low sodium dairy

Cut carbs and eat more protein. Survive on vinegar and lemon juice for days. Stop eating all foods, and start over with just drinking water. Pile your plate with food only a caveman would eat. You can probably think of some other fad diets, too.

When it comes to eating and nutrition, Americans have been obsessed with fad diets for generations. Go back far enough in the way-back machine of fat diets, and you’ll even find popular diets promoting cigarettes, soda, and tape worms for weight loss.

And the truth is, fad diets don’t work. In fact, crash diets and restrictive eating plans can do more harm than good. Check out these 10 reasons to forget about fad diets:

1. Food stresses you out

If you’re constantly focused on what you can and can’t eat on a fad diet, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack time, and even grocery shopping becomes a major source of stress. Who needs more stress in their life?

2. Your weight goes up and down

It’s called yo-yo dieting. Many fad diets are designed to help you lose weight fast. But it’s not sustainable. You lose weight. Then you gain it back, sometimes more weight than before. If a fad diet promises you’ll lose more than 1 to 2 pounds a week, don’t do it.

3. Some fad diets put your health at risk

Ever heard of the popular TV show, The Biggest Loser? In a recent study, researchers found that people who lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time gained it all back. Many also experienced slower metabolism and higher health risks for chronic disease. Extreme diets can also lead trigger kidney problems, dangerous spikes in blood sugar and blood pressure, heart problems, even blackouts.

4. Chronic fatigue

Let’s face it. If you’re trying to survive on a fad diet like rice cakes and water while exercising 60-plus minutes a day, you’re not going to have the energy to do a lot of things. You body needs calories and nutrients from food for energy and basic functions. Without the right balance of food, you’ll feel tired and fatigued often.

5. You’re in a bad mood

Ever heard someone announce they’re “hangry”? It’s the intersection of hungry and angry. And if that’s your “normal,” because you’re following a restrictive diet, you’re going to be in a bad mood. Chances are pretty good that will show up at home and at work. And you’ll probably prefer more alone-time. Eat some real food, OK?

6. Brain fog

Your brain uses about 20 percent of calories burned based on resting metabolic rate. For most adults that’s about 300 calories per day. And if you’re not eating enough of the right foods, you’re going to be in brain fog, have trouble concentrating, and focusing. Some research suggests that fad dieting may even have a negative long-term impact on brain function.

7. Food cravings

When you’re hungry, in starvation mode, restricting food, or trying to follow some fad diet, it causes an inverse spike in hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin. When ghrelin levels go up, so does your appetite. When leptin levels drop, your ability to resist eating the “whole bag” goes down.

8. Self-esteem issues

Step on the scale or look in the mirror everyday when you’re following a fad diet, and you may not like what you see. Your weight goes up and down by a few pounds. You don’t see changes in body composition as quickly as you like. And when that happens, it’s easy to turn that into negative self talk...the gateway to giving up, pigging out, and starting another fad diet.

If you want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, it’s a pretty simple-to-understand formula. Eat healthy foods. Exercise regularly. And practice healthy lifestyle habits. It’s not a quick fix solution to weight control, but it’s a sustainable one.