Diets that don't work

We are constantly bombarded with information about fabulous weight loss diets. However, if a diet sounds too good to be true, then I suggest that you presume that it is! You’ve heard about the diets that claim: “Eat what you want, when you want, and watch the pounds disappear!" There are hundreds of these diets out there, from the cabbage soup diet, to the lemonade diet, to the grapefruit diet. How can you tell a good diet from a bad one?

It's so hard to tell the difference between the good and bad diets, especially as even the worst ones will result in weight loss. Please don't be fooled into thinking weight loss can be achieved because of some magical food, pill or potion. In essence weight loss occurs by eating fewer calories than you burn. Ridiculous, unbalanced diets cause weight loss because they are basically low calorie diets – and they normally aren’t very healthy!

These diets tend to cause the dieter to become frustrated after a week or so, and then give up. This leads to a feeling of failure and the dieter heads straight back to their unhealthy lifestyle that they were trying to escape from. These diets often leave the dieter in a worse position than before they started.

The worst diets ever

Experts have identified five types of diet that are unlikely to produce long-term results for most people.

1. Diets that focus on only a few foods or food groups (like the cabbage soup diet, grapefruit diet).

Beware of any diet that rules out entire food groups.  People need to eat from a variety of food groups to get all the nutrients they need.

Although restrictive diets will work initially, they will also fail long term. You can lose weight on diets that focus on single foods, like cabbage soup, but realistically, how much cabbage soup can a person eat? Before long, you find you are completely bored of eating the same foods every day and cravings for favourite foods lead you back to your former eating behaviour.

2. Detox – These include extreme regimes like liver flushes, bodily cleanses, colonics, or hormone injections.

Your body is well equipped with organs, such as the liver and kidneys, and the immune system, to rid itself of potential toxins and does an excellent job of cleansing itself without needing flushes or cleanses.

3. Miracle food diets – for example fat burning supplements, fructose water, bitter orange etc.

Dieters are notoriously always searching for the elusive food, pill, or potion that will help them to shed their weight. Sadly, there are no such miracles – there not one single food, or group of foods, eaten together or at a certain time of day that will have any impact on weight loss.

I urge you to be wary of any plan that insists you invest in a cupboard full of supplements or potions. These will often prove expensive and will probably offer very little benefit to your weight loss plan.

4. Fasting diets.

Fasting is fine for a day or so (think the 5:2 diet), but fasting for weight loss is counter-productive. Consuming too few calories, will make your body think it is starving and will then adjust your metabolism. When you go back to eating normally, your metabolism won’t readjust and therefore you need fewer calories than before, so you swing between losing weight and putting it back on again – you’ll probably be more familiar with the term yo-yo dieting!

What's worse, weight loss during a fast is usually a combination of fat, fluid, and muscle, but the pounds regained will probably be all fat.

5. Diets that sound too good to be true.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Diet plans that claim to have a "secret", that make dramatic statements against respected health authorities, or make recommendations that contradict those of scientific organisations are suspect.

Finding a diet that works

There is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to diet plans, and it's important to find one that fits your lifestyle. The best diet for you is one you can safely and realistically stick with for the long term, plain and simple.

It should be flexible enough to fit in with your lifestyle and should encourage healthier eating by focusing on balance, variety and moderation.

In fact, the best "diet" may not be a diet at all – more of a lifestyle change.  Satisfy your hunger for fewer calories by eating more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help manage your appetite.

Here my two top tips for weight loss.

1) Take stock of what you're doing now and identify your "weakest link". Most people know immediately where they are vulnerable, mid-afternoon snacking, large portions, too much alcohol, a sweet tooth, or snacking all day long. Try to identify what led to your weight gain and address it. For example, if you overeat because of stress, consider a stress management course. Develop a strategy to address areas where you're vulnerable so you can set yourself up for success.

2) Identify one to three small changes you can make straight away in your diet and exercise habits. Reassess in a few weeks to see whether your changes are working; then make a few more small changes. Expect to see significant changes in around 12 weeks.

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

Share this article with a friend
Show comments

Find a nutritionist dealing with Weight management

All nutrition professionals are verified

All nutrition professionals are verified

Related Articles

More articles