The Worst Diets Ever continued...
"When you ... consume too few calories, your body thinks it is starving and adjusts the metabolism," she says. "But when you go back to eating normally, your metabolism doesn't readjust and therefore you need fewer calories than before -- otherwise known as the yo-yo syndrome."
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. Not convinced yet? Giancoli says you won't feel good, nor will you have much energy to be physically active while fasting.
And what about very low-calorie diets? Blatner say that diets promising losses of more than a half to 1 pound per week are simply not realistic.
"When you see diet books touting 5, 10 or 15 pounds in a short period of time, it is unrealistic," says Blatner. Depending on how much you have to lose, you may experience some initial water loss. But over time, weight loss averages out to around a pound per week, she says.
5. Diets that sound too good to be true (like The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You to Know About.) 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 organizations 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 key to find one that fits your lifestyle. The best diet is one you can safely and realistically stick with for the long term, plain and simple.
"It should be flexible enough to fit into your real life and should encourage healthier eating by focusing on balance, variety, and moderation" says May. "I encourage my patients to enjoy eating the foods they love every day, mindfully and in moderation."
In fact, the best "diet" may not be a diet at all, says Katz.
"Forget about 'dieting' and instead, think about strategies to satisfy your hunger for fewer calories," he says. "Eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help manage your appetite."
Blatner recommends using diet books as a loose template for tips, strategies, and behavioral ideas. Or save your money and follow the three-step approach she uses with her own weight loss clients:
- Take inventory of what you're doing now and identify your "weakest link." "Most people know immediately where they are vulnerable -- 3 p.m. snacking, monster portions, too much alcohol, (an) insatiable sweet tooth, or snacking all day long," she says. Katz suggests trying 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.
- Identify one to three small changes you can make right now in your diet and exercise habits. "Even though they want quick results, this method has proven to be safe, effective, and sustainable long term," Blatner says.
- Reassess in a few weeks to see whether your changes are working; then make a few more small changes. "It takes about 12 weeks for you to see progress, and that is about the time you should incorporate a few more changes so you keep pushing the bar," Blatner says.