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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Fad Diets: Here’s Why They Don’t Work And What To Do Instead

Fad diets might induce rapid weight loss for a short time, but you'll likely gain this weight back and then some. Instead, use these tips to adopt lifestyle habits that help you maintain a healthy body weight for life.

Fad dieting min scaled

Fad diets might seem like an easy way to lose weight quickly. However, if you’re not careful, they can have the opposite effect on your waistline.

More often than not, fad diets will cause you to eat more than you did before. They can induce rapid weight loss for a short time, but you’ll likely gain this weight back and then some once you start eating normally again.

Skip the fad diets. Instead, try these proven techniques to lose weight and keep it off for good.

Health Consequences Of Fad Diets

Fad dieting can make you:

  • Purge and binge eat, which might lead to an eating disorder
  • Restrict food intake 

Here are two things that can occur with a drastic change in your eating patterns:

Fad diets and excessive exercise

A young woman exercising with weights in her home
Regular, moderate exercise can help you lose weight. However, when combined with fad diets, exercising too much can have the opposite effect on your weight loss journey.

Adopting these habits will result in your body mistaking that it’s in a state of starvation. Generally, the food you consume will mix with acids and enzymes in the stomach. Upon digestion, the carbohydrates in food will be broken down into and become a type of sugar called glucose.

Glucose will be absorbed by the stomach and small intestines and released into the bloodstream. Your body will either utilize glucose for energy or store it for later use.

However, since starvation mode increases the usage of fat for energy, this induces the body to lower its metabolic rate in compensation to prevent fat loss, resulting in an accumulation of excess glucose that is not utilized and is stored as fat instead.

Simply put, this can trigger a yo-yo effect that has your body weight going up and down quickly.

Fad diets and no exercise

Each person has an individual basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR can be described as the minimum amount of energy required to perform functions like breathing and delivering oxygen throughout the body.

When you diet, regardless of whether you exercise or not, muscles will be broken down only after carbohydrates and fats have been depleted. However, a lack of exercise generally causes muscles to be broken down when they are not in use to conserve energy. Dieting may result in insufficient protein consumed to build muscle. Hence, muscle loss will occur.

It is worth noting that the consumption of energy from muscles is higher than fat. Consequently, this will lower the amount of energy consumed and encourage fat accumulation when excess energy is not utilized.

How To Lose Weight Without Fad Diets

An image of a woman eating a healthy chicken salad next to a yoga mat and exercise equipment
Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly will provide sustainable weight loss results.

Studies show that pairing a balanced diet with regular physical activity promotes healthy weight loss. On the contrary, relying solely on a dietary switch will make you susceptible to:  

Engage in regular, moderate physical activity  

Frequent exercise is one of the best ways to lose or maintain weight the healthy way, as physical activity raises the number of calories your body uses for energy.

However, it’s worth noting that exercise alone will be ineffective for weight loss. It is recommended that you combine workout routines with the consumption of low-calorie food. This creates a calorie deficit that triggers weight loss without the loss of muscle.

Focus on sleep 

Hormones play a central role in modulating or increasing your appetite, and sleep plays a vital role in regulating hormone levels. Poor sleep increases the level of the ghrelin hormone responsible for hunger and decreases the level of the leptin hormone responsible for feeling full, leading to an increase in appetite.

Sleep disruption can also affect brain activity and enhance the way we view food as a positive reward, stimulating an increased desire for food. Hence, proper sleep is necessary for the normal functioning of the body. It is also vital for recovery and performing biological processes.

Acupuncture treatment activates the release of melatonin hormone, which promotes better sleep quality. Applying pressure to ear acupressure points aids appetite adjustment.

Consume nutritious foods 

A young woman cutting vegetables in her kitchen
Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet can help you stay slim without excessive dieting.

Fruits and vegetables are an abundant source of fat and fiber, whilst also being low in calories. Increasing your intake of these foods can stimulate weight loss by helping you stay full for a longer period of time.

It can also supplement your body with vitamins and minerals. You may also choose to drink a whey protein beverage to ensure adequate nutritional support as you go through your weight-loss journey.

Meanwhile, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) states that optimal weight loss can happen if you consume foods that remove Dampness. Bitter and sour foods have a sharp taste and smell and can help control appetite and improve digestion.

  • Bitter foods increase bile production, lower insulin resistance and assist liver detoxification. Sour foods such as lemon can reduce belly fat.
  • Herbal ingredients such as astragalus (Huang qi), Poria (Fuling) and lotus leaf (Heye) can enhance fat burning by improving body metabolism.
  • An herbal slimming essence drink consisting of the TCM herb roselle can be added to your weight loss plan to help boost metabolism.

Avoid Fad Diets: Talk To A TCM Physician

Ultimately, fad diets will negatively impact the body and bring about faster weight gain. As such, it is advisable for you to adhere to a lifestyle that involves consistent and positive lifestyle practices.

Doing so will enable you to become slimmer and minimize your proneness to chronic illnesses. If you wish to use herbal ingredients, do speak to a TCM practitioner beforehand.


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