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9 Signs You’re on a Fad Diet

By Stephanie Booth
WebMD Feature

It's easy to flock to diets that promise fast results with little effort. Reality check: Fad diets backfire, because you’ll likely regain any pounds you shed.

Does your diet show any of these 9 signs? Then it's time to rethink your weight-loss strategy.

1. There’s no plan to keep weight off for the long run.

If a diet lasts only a preset number of days, or until you reach your weight loss goal, “you’re not learning behaviors to help maintain that loss,” says Lindsay Martin, RD, dietitian at Hilton Head Health, a weight loss spa in Hilton Head Island, SC.

Since most people who diet gain their weight back within 5 years, “you need a plan that helps you create realistic meal plans and practice mindful eating,” Martin says.

2. You’re allowed only a few foods.

Eating the same few items over and over isn’t just boring. It also doesn't give your body what it needs

“If a diet rules out obvious components of a healthy regimen, like protein sources, fruits, or vegetables, stay away,” says Kristen Smith, RD, a dietitian for the WellStar Comprehensive Bariatric Services in Atlanta. “Well-balanced eating should be key.”

3. You’re promised weight loss from a specific part of your body.

“It’s medically impossible to lose weight from only one part of your body,” says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

She explains that you lose fat "throughout the body."

If you want to focus on a particular part of your body, your best choice is a sensible diet plus exercise that includes resistance and strength training.

4. You’re guaranteed to lose X pounds in X days.

Losing weight faster than 2 pounds a week has a downside. “Our bodies are designed to store fat for future use,” Cohn says. Losing too much weight too quickly can mean losing muscle mass. That can leave you “weak and with a slower metabolism, making it even more difficult to keep off weight," Cohn says.

Reset your expectations for how much weight you'll lose, so that you keep it off for good.

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