Just because it boasts “immediate success” or “crazy weight loss” doesn’t mean a diet or its methods are good for your body. These diets can actually be quite harmful to your overall health and don’t pay off in the long-term.
Often called fad diets, some of these approaches to weight loss will provide quick results that don’t stick and harm your metabolism. There are surefire ways to spot a fad diet that can help you pick which methods are winners and which won’t help you lose the weight at all (page 7).
Cutting out gluten
The gluten-free fad is derived from a percentage of people — actually, only 1% of Americans — have celiacs disease, a genetic autoimmune disorder wherein their bodies reject the proteins found in wheat. The newer, “trendier” alternative to going carb-free, an estimated 3.1 million people eat gluten-free, and 78% of them have no known gluten allergy.
A recent study published in the BMJ found that non-celiacs who practice a gluten-free diet could be increasing their cardiovascular health risk.
Eating super small portions all day long
The “proper” amount of meals you should be eating per day is often a topic of controversy. Some nutritionists recommend eating three square meals a day the old fashioned way, while others have suggested breaking those meals into six smaller ones.
While you may think that eating less food at a time will help you to lose weight over time, taking smaller bites here and there can seriously add up.
Increasing fiber intake rapidly
Increasing your fiber alone will backfire, according to Samantha Heller. While some do this as an attempted solution to feel fuller quicker (and as a result, eat less) it won’t work unless you increase your fluids as well. “Up fiber slowly … If you don’t, you’ll irritate the GI tract,” Heller said.
According to Healthline, bloating isn’t the only problem you’ll face if you digest too much fiber. You could actually temporarily gain weight and drastically reduce your blood sugar levels.
Liquid diets and supplements
You probably have a friend or relative who “swears by juicing” or another type of liquid-exclusive diet. While these diets are usually very low calorie and help for quick weight loss, they can actually be detrimental to your health.
Diana Sugiuchi, R.D., claims that the danger of a liquid diet is two-fold: Both the long-term liquid diet and the supplements that often accompany them can pose health risks. “These supplements are not regulated like food. Some of them have harmful ingredients … like lead,” Sugiuchi said.
Prioritizing ‘low fat’ diets
Just because something is low-fat, doesn’t mean it’s low-calorie — and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s healthy. In fact, according to NPR, the majority of the population actually gained weight during the fat-free food “craze” of the ’90s. This was because low-fat foods often have high sodium and sugar counts.
Focusing all of your meals on one staple (like grapefruit)
It’s good to include produce in all of your meals, but you probably won’t see long-lasting results by centering your diet around one lone fruit or vegetable. Take the grapefruit diet, for example. There are various versions of this old-time fad diet. The gist is that dieters must focus all of their meals on grapefruit and that the fruit’s fat-busting enzymes will help them to lose weight quickly. Unfortunately, this diet would never work for the long-term.
How to determine if a diet method is dangerous or a ‘fad’
If you’ve ever fallen victim to a fad diet, you’re probably wondering how to differentiate them from a tried-and-true weight loss method. According to the University of Pittsburgh’s Medical Center, there are a few questions you can ask to identify a fad diet.
If the diet promises quick weight loss, sounds too good to be true, or aims to sell a company’s product, you’re better off skipping it. Make sure the diet has valid scientific research to support its claims as well.
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