"Eat what you want, when you want, and watch the pounds disappear!"
You've heard of them, maybe even tried them: miraculous-sounding diets that
claim to melt off pounds with minimal effort. There are hundreds of these
quick-fix diets out there, from the grapefruit diet to the detox diet to the
"caveman" diet. But how do you tell legitimate weight loss plans from diets
that don't work (at least in the long run)?
One reason it's so hard to tell the difference is that even the worst diets
will likely result in weight loss, at least initially. But it does little good
to lose weight, experts say, if it comes right back.
"Don't be fooled into thinking it is because of some magical food, pill or
potion. What causes weight loss is eating fewer calories than you burn," says
Dawn Jackson-Blatner, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association
(ADA). "Crazy, unbalanced diets cause weight loss because they are
basically low-calorie diets."
After a few weeks on an unrealistic diet, dieters usually become frustrated
and give up. This leads to feelings of failure that can help send them right
back to their unhealthy lifestyles.
"Fad diets not only fail to produce long-term weight loss, they can lead to
deprivation, weight gain, and discouragement," says Michelle May, MD, author of
Am I Hungry?What to Do When Diets Don't Work."In
other words, you are often worse off than before you started."
Experts who spoke to WebMD identified these 5 types of diets 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, strict vegan diets, raw food diets, and
many low-carb diets). 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, says ADA spokeswoman Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD.
Yale University's David Katz, MD, author of The Flavor Point Diet,
says that while restrictive diets do work initially, they fail over the long
haul. You can lose weight on diets that focus on single foods (like cabbage
soup), but how much cabbage soup can a person eat? Before long, you grow
weary of eating the same foods every day, and cravings for favorite foods lead
you back to your former eating behavior.
Keep in mind that all foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle in moderation
-- even things like bacon, super-premium ice cream, and chips. And when diets
forbid certain foods and dieters envision a life without their favorite treats,
those diets usually fail. "Any time you restrict a certain food, it
triggers cravings for the forbidden fruit and sets up a restriction-binge
cycle," says Blatner.