5 Ways to Spot a Bad Fad Diet

So you've got a high-school reunion coming up in three weeks, or a Caribbean vacation planned, or a wedding to go to. You absolutely have to drop 10 pounds immediately. There's nothing wrong with trying to slim down, but make sure you're doing it in a healthy way. Below are some tip-offs that the diet you're trying is not a good one:

  • You're losing very quickly. Starvation diets that require you to drastically cut calories can backfire. Your body is not designed to lose more than two or three pounds of fat per week. What actually happens on this type of diet is that your body rids itself of excess water, accounting for a good part of the weight lost. You're also likely to lose muscle mass along with fat. As soon as you begin eating normally again, you'll quickly regain your lost weight.
  • You're taking pills, powders, or herbs. These are nothing more than gimmicks. Diet supplements may come with enticing claims, but there's rarely any reliable research to back them up. And some may be downright dangerous.
  • You're eating only specific foods or food combinations. The backbone of a healthful diet is variety. Restricting yourself to a diet of nothing but grapefruits or cabbage soup means you're depriving yourself of needed nutrients.
  • You're following a very rigid menu. Who has time to prepare prescribed meals down to the letter? Flexibility is key when it comes to losing weight. If you can't see yourself eating this way for the rest of your life, the diet is too restrictive.
  • You're skipping meals in favor of special shakes or bars. Again, you're depriving yourself of needed nutrients if you ditch a well-balanced meal for a prepackaged item. And you're missing out on the enjoyment of meals shared with friends and family.

What should you be doing if you want to drop a few pounds? Forget the fad diets. Any weight you can lose in a healthful way is a good beginning. Cut your portion sizes down and ditch the packaged junk. Focus on whole foods such as grains, lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and lean dairy. Make sure you get a good amount of moderate exercise every day, and work on getting a good night's sleep. Train yourself to avoid eating when you're not hungry. If you listen to your body and treat it well, the pounds will come off at a sensible rate-and they'll stay off.



American Dietetic Association, www.eatright.org.