The Richmond Register

Lifestyles & Community

February 13, 2013

Remember: FAD DIETS can mean bad nutrition


MADISON COUNTY — The holidays have passed, a new year has begun, and swim suit season is just around the corner.  Many of you no doubt have made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight.

With weight loss aspirations come questions about the newest diets and best ways to lose weight.   The number of fad diets and quick trick weight loss schemes circulating on the internet, television and in magazines is enough to boggle the mind.  While some of these diet approaches may help an individual lose weight, they do not necessarily leave the person well-nourished and healthier.  How does one recognize a fad diet?  Remember the acronym FAD DIETS:

 Foods with super powers

These diets promise that the consumption of certain foods will help burn calories. The problem: No known food burns calories. The only way to burn calories is through physical activity or body processes.

 Anything you want to eat except …

These diets allow an individual to eat as much as they want of all their favorite foods but require them to cut out a certain food group. An example would be the diet that allows a person to eat everything except carbohydrates. Some diets also do the opposite, requiring dieters to cut out all foods except one specific food group. An example is a diet which restricts someone to eating only fruit. The problem: These types of diet changes can leave an individual deficient in specific nutrients.

 Dieting again!

These are the diets that an individual finds themselves restarting every few months because they have regained the weight they lost. The problem: Fad diets are well known for quick weight loss that is hard to maintain because of the low number of calories allowed per day and boredom associated with limited food choices.

 Disease states not addressed

Most fad diets do not take into account the needs and limitations of those suffering from chronic diseases, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. The problem: Chronic diseases can be profoundly affected by diets that alter nutrients such as fat, sodium and carbohydrates. For example, some diets promote consumption of prepared meals or supplements which may be high in sodium. This could cause serious problems for a dieter with high blood pressure. Diets which severely limit or eliminate carbohydrates would interfere with a diabetic’s ability to regulate their blood glucose.

 Inflexible menu

Some diets set strict guidelines for certain foods that must be eaten at specific times throughout the day. The problem: These diets can only be maintained for a short time, as most work and social schedules do not permit such rigid eating plans.

 Exercise is optional

Many diets promise that weight loss can be achieved by making a few adjustments in diet or taking a supplement. The problem: To lose weight, calories used must exceed calories eaten.  Physical activity uses up calories, promoting weight loss, and speeds up metabolism, so that body processes use more calories.  Other benefits include regulation of cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose, toning of muscles, and stress reduction.

 Too good to be true

If a diet seems too good to be true, it probably is. The problem: Before and after weight loss pictures in advertisements most likely are not representative of typical results. Even if the pictures are accurate representations of an individual using that diet, it is impossible to know if the weight loss was sustained.  

 Speedy weight loss  

These diets promise incredible results in a matter of weeks. The problem: Weight loss in excess of two pounds per week is difficult to maintain. Very low calorie diets can be dangerous and should only be attempted when prescribed and monitored by a physician to address urgent health concerns.  

 Although the promises of fad diets can be enticing, the safest and most effective way to lose weight and maintain weight loss is through a balanced diet and physical activity.

Visit to determine an eating pattern for your gender, age and activity level.

An individual can lose one pound per week by burning 500 more calories per day than he or she eats. Weight loss may be achieved by eating fewer calories, burning more calories, or using a combination of both approaches.

Simple lifestyle changes, sustained over time, allow for gradual loss of weight and improved health that is easy to maintain for years to come.

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