People who want to lose weight can be a very vulnerable group because they’re very frustrated. Weight loss is hard, and everybody is looking for a magic bullet. If you are considering going on a diet ask yourself these questions to help determine whether this is a lifestyle change or a fad.
Does the diet promise rapid weight loss?
Although losing weight fast is enticing and motivating, it isn’t all fat loss. When you restrict your calories, you decrease your body’s incoming fuel (glucose). In response, your body will start to break down stored energy (glycogen.) With each molecule of glycogen that is released for energy, you lose 2 molecules of water which looks great on the scale but is deceiving because it is just a change in the body’s fluid status.
In response to dieting/restriction, your body also breaks down muscle for energy which can decrease your weight on the scale. The problem is that most of us don’t want to lose muscle!
Read the dangers of dieting to learn more negative effects of rapid weight loss.
Does the diet require you to eat just one food — or eliminate whole food groups?
With this style of dieting you’re really on glorified low calorie diet. They cut out food groups to cut out calories. Anyone on a 1,000-calorie diet will lose weight, but you can’t maintain this level forever.
Further, if you’re required to cut out dairy, yet you love dairy you are setting yourself up for failure, as eventually you will want it back in your diet.
What’s more, if you must eat just one food (even if it’s cookies) you will eventually tire of it.
Will you need to purchase supplements, creams, or patches?
Unfortunately if someone is benefiting from you buying products they will tell you anything you want to hear to get you to continue purchasing them. If you are required to take supplements or special drinks, they often contain laxatives, helping you to flush the weight fast…literally.
Unfortunately most of these products do not work in the long run, and might be unsafe.
Is there sound research behind the weight-loss program?
As health care professionals we sign an oath promising to provide evidenced-based care, meaning all of our recommendations are based on research. Fad diets have no such oath. If they do site research but it involves small numbers of people or are testimonials, it can hide the lack of clinical research. If the only studies have been conducted on animal models, be cautious of this as well.
Does it encourage exercise?
Research shows that individuals who exercise on a regular basis have a higher success rate at losing weight and maintaining weight.
Diet and exercise go hand in hand in regards to weight maintenance. If you are not active you will have less muscle mass and more fat mass, and muscle burns more calories than fat. If the diet promises “weight loss without working out!” it will not be sustainable
Does the program help you change long-term eating habits?
Can you eat this way for the next 20 years? Most diets are short-term fixes for a long-term problem. People who lose weight and maintain their weight loss have transformed their eating habits and relationship with food.
Is the weight-loss program compatible with your lifestyle?
Can you start to implement the recommendations right now? If you need to go buy special products or spend hours cooking food, how likely are you to do this consistently?
Weight gain comes from more than just not eating healthy foods. It comes from stress, inactive lifestyle, time management issues, and busy schedules. If you want to be successful you need to address these issues as well.
(These questions are designed to help empower you to make choices and see if a diet will work for you before spending the money, time etc. on it.)