But don't panic. There are a few key elements you can look for to avoid jumping into the next "fad diet." After spending over a decade in the weight-loss world, I have been able to identify a few warning signs that can help you make an informed decision.
6 ways to spot a fad diet
1. The diet does not allow any carbohydrates
While limiting your grain intake can be helpful in losing weight, eliminating all carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits, and certain types of vegetables) is absolutely not necessary. There are also certain diets on the market that currently advocate the total elimination of bananas and carrots due to their sugar levels: I have not had one client whose weight was a result of eating too many carrots or bananas.
In reality, eating whole grain breads and a certain amount of fruits and vegetables per day is one of the keys to weight loss. The goal is to focus on nutrient-dense, calorie-light foods.
2. The diet advocates extreme caloric restriction
There are certain diet programs that get weight-loss results by literally starving their clients. While eating a mere 600-800 calories per day may work in the short term I assure you the results will not last. In addition, if the body senses it is starving by dropping too low in calories, it tends to promote fat storage, not weight loss. For successful weight loss, you need to eat three balanced meals and two snacks per day. Dropping under 1,000 calories for both men and women is not recommended long term.
3. The diet promises quick fix results
I often hear a certain radio ad for a very popular diet promising 20 pounds of weight loss each and every month. That would be 60 pounds in a mere three months. In the beginning of any weight loss program, you will likely lose the most weight. Following that, a steady rate of two to three pounds per week is normal and healthy. I assure you, steady weight-loss results (rather than dramatic ones) will create long-term weight loss success.
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4. The diet is extremely low in fat
Eating healthy fats is critical to weight loss. In fact, research shows that individuals who consume more healthy fats tend to burn more fat than those who do not. Just keep in mind that fats have more than twice the calories of proteins or carbohydrates, so portion control is important.
5. The diet states that exercise or lifestyle changes are not necessary
Proper sleep, low stress levels and frequent exercise all have an impact on how successful you are in losing weight. A well-rounded weight-loss program will always incorporate these elements. The consideration of emotional eating and behavioral changes are also keys to any thorough weight loss program.
6. The diet states you can only lose weight by eating the food they deliver to you
Nonsense! You can lose weight simply by making the correct choices at your local grocery store. Relying on food delivery is a very short-term solution and likely will not result in long-term self-reliance and new eating patterns.
9 things to look for when choosing a weight-loss program
When looking for a program that's right for you, simply check the list below. Remember to ask all of your questions before you sign up.
The program should include:
1. Expert advice from a health-care practitioner such as a nutritionist, registered dietitian or medical doctor
2. Methods to deal with holidays, travel and weekends
3. Advice on how to handle cravings and breaking plateaus
4. One on one personal care
5. Detailed meal plans and recipes
6. Support, either online or in person
7. Food journal monitoring
9. A proven track record
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Dr. Joey Shulman is the author of the best selling book The Last 15 – A Weight Loss Breakthrough and founder of The Shulman Weight Loss Clinic. For more information, please visit drjoey.com or shulmanweightloss.com