Monday, October 25, 2010

Fight the FAD

For as much of a health nut as I am, I can't believe it's taken me this long to blog about the topic of health & fitness. I definitely will not have any problem giving you my two cents on the topic throughout the life of this blog. Bear with me on this one - I can already tell it could be a long one.
I get asked all the time how I maintain my petite frame. It could be part genetics although my family isn't made of skinny-minnies. I honestly think it's my will power. I've made it a lifestyle. I am a purist when it comes to maintaining your body. This doesn't mean I eat super "clean" and am a Vegan. When I say purist I mean I have very little tolerance for people that actually believe in any quick fix miracle diets. Specifically - FAD DIETS. Low carb, detox diet, HcG diet, cabbage soup diet, juice diet, grapefruit diet, Atkins, South Beach, The Zone, Flat Belly Diet, Master Cleanse. I even put diet pills in this same bucket - carb blockers, fat blockers, metabolic boosters. There are a million gimmicks out there. There is definitely truth to what many of these products are advertising. We as consumers probably do eat too much fat, too many carbs, too many processed foods that slow our metabolism. We lead stressed lives that make our systems unbalanced and turn out bodies into fat storing blobs of low energy but will the latest fad solve your problems? Deep down in my heart I know the answer to this is a big fat NO but I do recognize that rapid results with minimal effort is extremely alluring to people, especially in a society trained to want things NOW. “Effort,” of course, is relative. Obsessing over lists of prohibited foods, denying yourself entire food groups, or subsisting on maple syrup and lemon juice would probably strike a lot of people as anything but “easy and effortless.” Yet every day, thousands of people choose to go on these diets. Are you one of them? Hopefully not for long.

Before I get hot on why y'all should fight the fad, below are some revealing statistics:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at any given time 2/3 (or 66%) of all American adults are on a diet to either lose weight or prevent weight gain. Of those, 29% are men and 44% women. Yet only 5% of these dieters will be successful at keeping the weight that they lost off.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that each day Americans spend an average of $109 million on dieting or diet related products, including tapes, videos, supplements, books, foods, and medications – or over $34 billion a year.

Yet, for all of the money spent on diets and diet products, another set of statistics shows Americans overall aren’t losing weight. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, overweight and obesity has reached epidemic levels, afflicting 6 out of every 10 adults, and is the second leading cause of preventable death, resulting in 300,000 deaths per year.

So if Americans are dieting more, why do we keep getting fatter? With all of the claims that fad diets make around “losing weight and keeping it off” you’d think everyone would look like a fitness model. So what’s going on?

What is a fad diet?
Fad diets promise dramatic results in a short amount of time. They have usually received extensive media attention that has caused a cultural buzz claiming this is the next BEST thing. Sadly their marketing uses far too many too good to be true phrases like “melt off pounds instantly,” “lose fat fast,” “lose weight when you sleep,” “eat all you want and lose weight!” etc. Give me a break. They usually always promote extreme calorie restriction or eliminating entire food groups which if you knew anything about losing weight, you'd know that's counter-productive and unsustainable to healthy long-term weight loss.
But why do the commericals and even our friends swear they work?
Nearly everyone knows a friend that swears their latest diet is working or reads in a magazine that a certain diet is shedding pounds off Britney Spears. And often, you’ll even notice that the person on the diet does appear to have lost weight. The dirty little secret of fad diets is that most of them do cause people to lose weight — and sometimes that weight loss will appear to be dramatic, depending on how extreme the diet actually is. For example, people who switch to low-carb diets like Atkins will often see a dramatic drop in scale weight within a few days, and may even find their clothing a little less snug than before they started the diet. Many people will mistake this drop in scale weight as a reduction in body fat. However, much of this weight loss comes from water. Put the carbs back in, and the water weight returns.
Many fad diets will result in some loss of body fat, since you typically will be reducing calories. However, these diets can also wreck havoc on your metabolism and endocrine system and cause rapid fat gain once you go off the diet. This is the reason that only 5% of people who go on diets will actually keep off the weight or fat they lost.
Sadly just the mention of a diet by someone you know or trust gives it credibility and legitimacy. If you hear more than one person talking about it, that only tends to strengthen that confidence. And because many of these diets do initially produce dramatic (but usually temporary and short-term) results, the fad diet will look like it’s effective. More often than not, if you go back to that person three months later, they’ll already be buzzing about the newest, next-best-diet that they are getting ready to “go on.” I'm sorry to say that this friend is a yo-yo dieter and you should steer clear of her dieting advice.
In a nut shell - Fad diets do not work. Period. You can't sustain them and ultimately in the end, you gain the weight back and then some. That's motivating huh? Save your money on the bars. Stop believing that the increased heart rate from that little pill is good for you. Don't justify that the headache you feel is normal. Stop spending your energy on things that are proven to fail you. Healthy living should be a lifestyle, not a fad. Fad diets that shed pounds in the blink of any eye, limit foods, restrict nutrients and skip meals actually have a negative impact on weight management. To keep your metabolism speeding along, consider having 4 or 5 smaller meals and smart snacks throughout the day. In addition to providing consistent energy and maintaining your metabolism, you may be more likely to resist those "snack attacks" that pack on those unwanted pounds.
Alright enough for today. I could go on for hours. If you want to learn how I beat the bulge without the quick fix gimmicks, check back tomorrow...

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