Fad diets debunked – and weight loss tips that work
Are you familiar with the saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is?” That saying must have been created with fad diets in mind. In 2012 in the United States there were roughly 108 million people on a diet, and the weight loss industry was making approximately $20 billion in sales annually (1).
And with all of those dieters, spending so much money on weight loss, one would think that the population would be losing weight? Not the case. Every year the Centers’ for Disease Control (CDC) reports on the prevalence of obesity in the U.S.; in 2013 they found that “no state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20% and 2 states have > 35% prevalence of obesity: (2).”
While there are many factors that contribute to the overweight and obesity epidemic, fad diets and misinformation regarding nutrition is certainly part of the problem.
Tips on how to spot (and avoid!) a fad diet (3)
-Unreasonable and rapid weight loss promises
-Claims that eating a specific food will result in weight loss or cure a disease
-Claims for a scientific breakthrough (without supplying clinical data to back up the claims)
-Promising physical activity is not necessary
-Advising to significantly restrict or eliminate major food groups
-The diet is used to sell a product; supplements and/or meal replacements
There are many real strategies to lose weight, sustain the weight loss, and optimize your ability to maintain your health. This is not a “one size fits all” approach, as many fad diets tend to be, and often times you will need to try various approaches to find out what works for you.
Regardless of what foods you choose to eat, and which types of physical activity you take part in, one of the most important weight loss strategies starts and continues in your mind!
Weight loss tips, proven through science and research, which work (4, 5, and 6)
Consider your perspective
Reflect on the life challenges and choices that led to your weight gain. Come up with ideas to remove the obstacles, and forge a path that will accomplish your goal. Not every day is going to be “perfect” and you need to have plans for set-backs as well. Sustainable weight loss takes on-going effort, which is why adopting strategies that become a fundamental part of your life is the best method.
Make a commitment
Making the choice to improve your lifestyle, lose weight, and gain health is a big deal! Simply start by making a commitment to yourself. One idea is to create a contract for yourself that may include things like, the amount of weight you want to lose, the date you’d like to lose the weight by, the food changes you’ll make to establish healthy eating habits, and a plan for getting regular physical activity.
Documenting the reasons why you are committed to this goal can also help. It may be because you have a family history of diabetes or high blood pressure, or because you want to engage in physical activities that you don’t feel comfortable (or physically can’t) doing, or simply because you want to feel better in your clothes.
Tell your loved ones and friends about your commitment, and keep the reasons in a convenient place so that you can see them every day.
Set specific goals
If something is well defined and measurable, it is easier to work towards it, and to determine if you have accomplished your goal! Be clear about what you plan to achieve in distinct time periods.
Experts recommend that, “over the long term, it’s best to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week. Generally to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular exercise (4).”
Eat well balanced meals and snacks
A ‘well balanced’ diet simply means that you are eating choices from all food groups, getting the nutrients that your body needs, and not over consuming items from any specific food groups.
When you consume the right levels (for your individual needs) of protein, fat, carbohydrate, fiber, and water, you will have more success in achieving satiety with fewer calories (7), maintenance of steady blood glucose levels (8), preservation of lean body mass (9), reduced risk of disease (10), and more energy (11)!
Keep track of your progress
Keeping track of what you eat and how much you exercise is one of the most effective ways to both improve your diet and help you to lose weight (12). There are great ways to keep track digitally on your PC or phone; one that I like to use is “My Fitness Pal” http://www.myfitnesspal.com/
Find an activity partner
Research has proven that if you find your exercise and physical activity to be fun, you are less likely to over eat or reward yourself with food treats (13). With a partner, exercise can be social, and you are committing to someone else too. If you regularly meet a friend for coffee, how about doing a walking break instead?
Do not be discouraged or demotivated if it takes time to lose the weight you have gained, remember that you didn’t gain that extra 20, 30, 40 or more pounds overnight. Avoiding fad diets, and arming yourself with proven weight loss strategies, is a terrific way to begin your journey.
1) ABC News Staff. “100 Million Dieters, $20 Billion: The Weight-Loss Industry by the Numbers.” ABC News, May 2012. Web. September 2014.<http://abcnews.go.com/Health/100-million-dieters-20-billion-weight-loss-industry/story?id=16297197>
2) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Obesity Prevalence Maps.” CDC, September 2014. Web. September 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/prevalence-maps.html>
3) Zelman, Kathleen. “Top Ten Ways to Spot a Fad Diet.” Web MD, September 2004. Web. September 2014. <http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/top-10-ways-to-spot-a-fad-diet>
4) Mayo Clinic Staff. “Weight Loss: Strategies for success.” Mayo Clinic, February 2014. Web. September 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047752?pg=2>
5) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Healthy Weight – it’s not a diet it’s a lifestyle!” CDC, September 2011. Web. September 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/getting_started.html>
6) Zelman, Kathleen. “10 Medically Proven Ways to Lose Weight.” Web MD, February 2005. Web. September 2014. <http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=56398
7) Rolls, Barbara. “Energy Density of Foods Influences Satiety & Total Caloric Intake.” Obesity Society, September 2014. Web. September 2014. <http://www.obesity.org/publications/energy-density-of-foods-influences-satiety-a-total-caloric-intake.htm>
8) American Diabetes Association. Nutrition Recommendations and Interventions for Diabetes: A position statement of the American Diabetes Association. ADA, January 2007. Web. September 2014. <http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/suppl_1/S48.full>
9) Harding, Anne. “Too little protein may equal too much body fat.” CNN Health, January 2012. Web. September 2014. <http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/03/health/too-little-protein-too-much-fat/>
10) Texas Heart Institute. “Hearti-Facts: Good nutrition reduces the risk of heart disease.” National Agricultural Library, USDA, August, 2014. Web. September 2014. <http://www.texasheart.org/HIC/Topics/HSmart/nutriti1.cfm>
11) Paul, Maya, et al. “Healthy Eating: Easy Tips for Planning a Healthy Diet and Sticking to It.” Help Guide, July 2014. Web. September 2014. <http://www.helpguide.org/life/healthy_eating_diet.htm>
12) Torgovnick, Kate. “The Single Best Way to Lose Weight.” Web MD, December 2007. Web. September 2014. <http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/single-best-way-lose-weight>
Cornell Food & Brand Lab. “Think fun when exercising and you’ll eat less later.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/14070909592