Low cal, low carb, high fat, low fat, liquid diets - the list goes on. Enough is enough. Someone just tell me what works! Or in this case, what doesn't.
Like many of us, my New Year's resolution to drop some lbs is in full swing. I've been feeling pretty tempted to jump on the "fad diet band wagon" so I can at least see some immediate results. But guess what? An easy fix, right? Nope! Fad diets have been my go to for years and I'm living proof that they don't work and if you're anything like me, you'll gain the weight back and then some. Boo.
So what diets should we absolutely avoid? I sat down with certificated local health coach and fitness instructor Natasha O'Brien to get the DL. I'm embarrassed to say - I've tried half of these diets!
The hCG Diet
hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone we actually produce ourselves. When a woman becomes pregnant, her hCG levels naturally rises. This specific diet is where people inject themselves with more of the hormone, or use hCG drops as a supplement. But watch out...
"Many supplements that are purchased online are not authentic or have enough hCG in them," said O'Brien. "The injections [should be] typically done in an office space, but I would be very weary of what you are putting into your body as an hCG supplement."
Along with the daily supplement, the diet has you eating only 500 calories a day.
"You will lose weight, but who wouldn’t eating that little?" said O'Brien. "[But] it is extremely hard to maintain. The weight that is lost on the program is more likely than not all gained back once the person returns to eating normal."
Note: I did this diet for my wedding and dropped 25 pounds pretty quickly. But like O'Brien warns, I gained it alllllll back and more! Plus, I was hangry ALL THE TIME.
This new diet plan, made famous now by Adele's massive weight loss, includes juicing and limited whole food meals.
"As most diets are, the Sirtfood Diet is extremely limited in calories, hard to sustain and usually leads to weight gain when going ‘off’ the diet," said O'Brien. The one pro she does note about this one, is that at least it's whole, real food. The juices they recommend are made with clean ingredients, but "it lacks enough protein, so a lot of the weight that is lost is coming from your muscle, which is less than ideal."
Umm, hold up. WHAT??? The fad diet, also called the Lunar Diet, revolves around the cycles of the moon.
"This way of eating is not only extremely limited as it is based on fasting, but also very rigid in the rules, which there are a lot of!" says O'Brien. There are eating plans for each of the moon's phases, like such full moon, waning moon, new moon, and more. "You're not permitted to eat after 6 p.m., when moonlight becomes for visible." Although you will drop weight, O'Brien says the tricky part of this (and ALL diets) is sustaining the weight loss and not gaining more weight than you started with." AMEN to that.
The Keto diet tried to mimic ketosis, the natural process your body initiates to help survive when food intake is low. During ketosis, your body uses it's own fat for fuel, and you're aiming to limit your intake of carbohydrates is less than 50 grams a day, ideally 20 grams. The diet is mainly full-fat dairy, nuts, meats, coconut oil, butter, and low carb vegetables. It is another strict eating plan, but when done correctly, can have some health benefits besides weight loss. BUT O'Brien says there is a tricky part:
"People tend to think they can eat as much bacon as they want, but you still need to eat clean, healthy, organic, balanced fats," she said. "Also, ‘cheating’ and having breads or chips can really have a negative effect on your weight loss goals! With all the fat that you have been consuming, then eating starchy carbohydrates can produce major weight gain."
I was not happy to see this one on the list, considering I've actively been doing this! But O'Brien says it can be beneficial if done correctly. Intermittent Fasting is when people only eat during a window of time, some fast for 16 hours eat for 8, or 20/4.
"There are some great benefits of fasting for certain hours of the day, but this doesn’t give you a free for all during the eating hours," she said. "Letting your body rest without food can be very beneficial when done correctly."
All of these fad diets will probably have you losing weight. How can they not? They are typically extremely low in calories, which will have anyone losing weight. But according to O'Brien, what do you do if you want lose weight AND keep it off, is focusing on eating whole, real food and limiting processed foods. We hear it all the time - but listen, another expert is saying it again so they've gotta be on to something! The major point is that when you eliminate processed foods, your taste buds will actually begin to change and you will stop craving those foods.
"Eating protein, fat and healthy carbohydrates like vegetables and fruit with every meal help sustain healthy blood sugar levels, so there isn’t any sugar crashes or starving feeling after meals," said O'Brien. She also notes that accountability is critical, especially in the beginning of any new venture. There's a huge benefit to having a friend, or spouse or health coach to help you stick to your goals to make a LIFESTYLE change, not a quick fix diet.