How To Spot a Diet Fad

How To Spot a Diet FadBy Maik Wiedenbach

Diets….spring is not that far off (does not seem like it but its true) and with the first sun rays we will also get the newest, hottest and best diet of “insert here” 2014, all times, this side of the equator and so on.

1. Singularity, aka, blaming one food to cause obesity

Any diet nutritional program that harps on one slogan or oversimplifies is dishonest and will not produce sustainable results. Examples include : “never eat fats and carbs together,” “toxins are making you fat” or blueberries cure cancer (all 10,000 kinds of it). the sudden increase of gluten intolerant people also comes to mind. Weight loss and gain is simple and yet infinitely complicated at the same time.

Some simple facts:

Calories matter – There is no calorie myth ( hello Jonathan Bailor!). In order to lose weight you need a caloric deficit.
• You must cut either carbs or fats in order to create said deficit since protein is needed to keep the muscle while dieting.
• You must train with weights in order to keep the muscle on and retain your metabolism. Cardio is of secondary importance, but it can be used in either smaller individuals or to create a bigger deficit.

But then there is individual physiology, psychology, education, economic background, availability of food, production of food, exercise, response to exercise etc. etc. In other words, you can eat your oatmeal with peanut butter, you’ll be okay!

How To Spot a Diet Fad2. Reverting to a false authority

Quotes like “Dr. OZ says so,” or “This is a Tracy Anderson method” are immediate red flags. Never confuse the word of a pseudo celebrity with actual research . Celebrities can be bought to endorse anything, always look for actual studies backing up the diet claim. Double blind placebo controlled studies on a large number of subjects (humans, not rats) would be the gold standard. Through my years in the fitness industry, I have often met professionals who endorsed a diet or a supplement simply because the price was right.

3. Leaving out a macro

Marco nutrients are called macros for a reason – they help with the whole survival thing. Yes, carbs can be replaced as the body can make glycogen via gluconeogenesis but they are also needed in hard training athletes.

Diets that leave out one macronutrient are always bound to fail, if you manage to leave out fat or protein for good, you’ll die. If you go too long without carbs, you will experience a drop in performance and mushy muscles. Both highly undesirable outcomes, especially the whole dying part!

How To Spot a Diet Fad4. If the diet is not sustainable

Before starting any type of weight loss/ dietary program ask yourself: can I make this a lifestyle for months and months to come?

This just killed the cabbage soup and grapefruit diet, I am afraid. And for good reason, they are not sustainable unless you plan on never leaving the house without a pot of cabbage soup. Aside from practicality, these types of pseudo diets will endanger your health as they lead to malnutrition.

5. Unrealistic promises

Claims like “you’ll be losing a pound a day” are not a realistic unless you plan on losing a pound of muscle a day. It all comes down to simple math: a pound of fat contains about 3500 calories. If we assume that you need 2000 calories just to function you would need to create a deficit of about 5500 calories to lose that kind of fat. That would be the equivalent of training for 8-10 hours daily. On top of all that you would need to live in a perfect universe where every calorie you burn comes from your fat storage not muscle glycogen or amino acids. You get the picture, the old saying of losing 1-2 lbs. of body fat a week still stands. It is a marathon, not a sprint.

A pound of muscle , on the other hand, is only about 600 calories and can easily be burned off via a starvation/ excessive cardio regime. Problem is once you stop you’ll gain the weight back and then some since your metabolism has come to a stand still.

How To Spot a Diet Fad6. Us vs. them mentality/pseudo science

A lot of diets and training programs develop a cultish “us vs. them” character. Outside studies are being dismissed as financed by the government, big pharma, and agriculture, Monsanto etc. while the cult itself only produces very small samples or surveys as scientific back up. Only because your buddy lost weight by only eating Twinkies does not make Twinkies a great diet food. Very often you have diet books with paid for five-star Amazon reviews in order to boost creditability. Check if those people are really amazon customers and always ask for studies. If the answer is ” the government does not want you to know this secret” it belongs in the same drawer with the bottomless peanut bag.

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