Whether you’re looking to make a significant change or simply drop a couple extra pounds, most people would agree that they want to see results sooner than later. Unfortunately, it rarely works that way, but proponents of fad diets hope you don’t know that. Many fad diets disguise themselves as something that’s good for you, but learning how to spot a fad diet will help you separate what’s actually best for your body.
Telltale Signs of a Fad Diet
Claims Fast Results
If a diet promises to help you lose more than one to two pounds a week, it’s likely a fad that either won’t provide the results they claim or it may encourage the weight to come off in a different way than you’re hoping. For example, the body sheds water weight much quicker than fat. If you want to be successful in keeping weight off, it’s best to do it gradually and steadily; losing one to two pounds each week is ideal.
Limits Food Groups
Although most people need to limit processed and sugary foods to lose weight, cutting out entire food groups like carbs can do more harm than good. Grains and carbs are included in a balanced diet for a reason; they provide energy and vital nutrients. When you eliminate good carbs like fruit, you put yourself at risk for becoming deficient in certain nutrients. Plus, restricting your favorite less-healthy foods can lead to an increase of cravings or binging.
Identifies Weight Loss in a Specific Area
Some fad diets exploit the fact that everyone has an area of their body that they wish had a little less fat or a little more tone. If they’re promising that you will lose a certain number of inches in two weeks, it’s a fad. When the body burns fat, it takes free fatty acids and glycerol from anywhere in the body—not just the area that you’re exercising.
The best way to lose fat is to participate in workouts that challenge the entire body:
- High-intensity interval training
- Full-body exercises
- Mixing cardio and strength training
Some diets require you to substitute a shake or food bar in lieu of a full meal. While doing so may save calories, these replacements often lack the nutrients you would receive from a balance plate of protein, vegetables, and whole grains. Plus, shakes and food bars don’t teach you how to eat a balance diet to correct the unhealthy behaviors that caused you to gain weight. Instead, these diets create a dependency on their products in order to maintain the weight loss you may receive.
Promises No Exercise is Necessary
Many people dread exercising and the people who design fad diets know that too. For the body to lose weight, there must be a calorie deficit. If a diet promises you can be successful without exercising, it probably requires a strict low number of calories.
When you exercise, it allows you to eat more calories while positively impacting your overall wellness, metabolism, and mental health.
Dangers of Fad Diets
Fad diets can be harmful to the body and create a number of problems:
- Poor body image
- Lowered self-esteem
- Increased risk for eating disorders
- Muscle loss
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Electrolyte imbalance
What You Should ReallyEat
When you hear the term “balanced diet,” many people don’t know what that actually means and how to make it a long-term part of their life. Rather than follow a fad diet, take these suggestions and implement them into your eating routine:
What to Eat and Drink More:
- A variety of fruits and vegetables
- Wholegrain bread, rice, and pastas
- Lean meat, fish, and poultry
- Yogurt, low or nonfat cheese, and milk
- Water, ½ to 1 ounce per pound you weigh
What to Eat and Drink Less:
- Foods high in salt or saturated fats
- Processed foods
Change Your Mindset
Changing your lifestyle isn’t easy, but it is possible. Your best chance for success is to make small, gradual changes that you can maintain long-term.
Find A Workout You Enjoy
Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. Find something you enjoy doing and do it often. Walking, swimming, cycling, and hiking are all great ways to start.
Eat Until You Feel Satisfied
Many people grew up with the “Clean Plate Club,” but there’s no reason to eat everything on your plate if you’re full. In order to eat less and reduce waste, serve yourself moderate portions and only go back for more if you still feel hungry.
Avoid Mindless Eating
The next time you reach for a snack, check-in with yourself to see if you’re actually hungry—or just bored. Mindless eating is a waste of calories and realizing when you’re doing it is a valuable lesson to learn.
Eating fast and furious can lead to overeating and weight gain. During a meal, your gut releases hormones to tell your brain when you are full. The entire process takes 20 minutes, but if you eat too fast, your body doesn’t have enough time to tell your brain that it’s full, causing you to overeat.
Make Balanced Choices
Many people put foods into one of two camps: good and bad. However, every food provides nutrition and fuel for the body. While some foods are more nutritious than others, it’s important to let yourself enjoy less nutritious foods every once in a while. When you indulge in less nutritious foods like fast food and sugary desserts, make sure they are worth it! A slice of pizza from your favorite restaurant? Worth it. Stale cookies in the break room? Not worth it.
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