The Truth About Dieting and Fad Diets

Is the latest fad diet the solution to your weight loss goals?

Low-carb is probably the most popular fad diet for weight loss currently. With the Atkins diet, South Beach diet, the Zone diet, and other protein-packed diet plans, dieters were losing weight while eating rich, low-carb foods like butter, steak, and pizza (but without the crust). Now the trend is shifting again, as it always does with fad diets. Tired of facing a hamburger patty and bowl of lettuce night after night, many people are rethinking this extreme dieting fad.

Why are there so many fad diets out there? If it's low-carb, low-calorie, or low-fat, someone always has a gimmick to sell it. Diets that are supposed to help you lose weight and look as great as the models who advertise these diets. But, has anyone been able to stay on these extreme diets for a long period of time? And if they did lose weight, did it stay off once they stopped the diet and went back to a more normal eating style?

Here are a few of the recent fad diets. How many have you heard about? How many you've tried?

  • Low-carb diet
  • Low-fat diet
  • Liquid diet (using shakes)
  • Grapefruit diet
  • Detox diet
  • Cabbage Soup diet
  • Macrobiotic diet
  • The juice diet
  • The Cookie diet
  • The HCG diet
  • The 500 calorie diet

If you've tried one or more of these diets, you have plenty of company. The problem is, if a fad diet really worked, everyone would be on it, and stay on it. The fact is that fad diets don't work when it comes to helping you lose weight and keep it off.

So, if fad diets don't work what does? Quite simply, eating fewer calories than you burn. That's it. Calories really do count -- no matter what you've read in magazine articles or heard on infomercials. If you really want to lose weight and trim down, the most effective way is to eat a variety of healthful foods, exercise every day, and stop super-sizing your meals.

Variety Is Key for a Healthy Diet

Just as a car needs the proper gasoline to make it run, your body needs a healthy diet with the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat as well as a host of other nutrients.

Vitamins and minerals regulate all bodily processes. For instance, the mineral calcium keeps bones strong and helps to prevent low bone density and fractures. Vitamin A is important to keep your skin smooth and healthy. Vitamin C helps protect your body against infection. Vitamin E stimulates the function of T-cells, which are important fighters in your immune system.

When you go on a fad diet and exclude any of the necessary nutrients, you're putting yourself at risk for illness, injury and disease. By not getting enough of a specific nutrient may not cause a problem immediately, but if it's depleted over a long period of time, you may suffer health consequences.

Practice Portion Control

Researchers have concluded that it may not be just the types of foods we're eating that is causing America's obesity epidemic, but also the portion sizes. Food servings have grown much larger over the years. And fast food restaurants aren't the only places you'll find super-sized meals.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers looked into foods such as hamburgers, burritos, tacos, French fries, sodas, ice cream, pie, cookies, and salty snacks. They found that between the 1970s and the 1990s, portion sizes increased dramatically -- whether people ate these foods at home or at restaurants.

In a study in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers found that cookies are 700% bigger than USDA standards. Also, cooked pasta, muffins, steaks, and bagels exceeded USDA standards by 480%, 333%, 224%, and 195%, respectively.

So, then just what does a healthy serving size look like? Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • A cup of fruit should be no larger than your fist.
  • One ounce of meat or cheese is about the same as the size of your thumb from base to tip.
  • Three ounces of meat, fish, or poultry (considered a normal serving) is about the size of your palm.
  • One to two ounces of nuts fits in your cupped hand.
Here are a few tips to help with portion and calorie control:
  • Serve your meals on smaller salad plates instead of large dinner plates.
  • Store snack foods in tiny sandwich bags so you are not eating no more than one portion.
  • When ordering out, share your entrĂ©e with a friend.
  • Ask for a kids' meal or small size. Never go for a super-size portion.
  • Fill up on fresh green salads, fruit, and vegetables instead of high-fat foods, breads, pasta, and desserts.

Losing Weight Without Fad Diets

The best diet is not actually a diet at all, but a lifestyle that lets you "eat to live," as you enjoy healthy food, exercise, and optimal health.

If you think you need to lose weight, talk with your doctor, a dietitian or a personal trainer about your ideal weight. Ask your doctor, dietitian or personal trainer the number of calories you need to lose weight and to maintain an ideal weight. Remember, to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn.

Healthy weight loss Tips

  • Eat a variety of foods -- lean protein; complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; and "good" fats, like omega-3 fats from fish and monounsaturated fats from avocados, nuts, and olives or olive oil.
  • Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Chose different colors of fruits and vegetables to ensure optimal nutrition.
  • Say NO to bad fats, like saturated fats from animal sources and trans fats from fried foods, snack foods and fast food products.
  • Be careful about portion sizes. If you must have seconds, serve yourself vegetables.
  • Exercise at least 60 minutes every day.
  • Clean out the kitchen and eliminate all junk food. Toss out high-calorie, high-fat foods that will tempt you to overeat -- chips, cookies, crackers, ice cream, candy bars, etc.
  • Stock your kitchen with lean protein, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, good fats, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently. Five to six meals per day is best. Space your meals and snacks every three to four hours throughout your day. Try taking low fat cheese and whole grain crackers to school for a snack, or eat a tablespoon of peanut butter with one slice of whole grain bread after school. Find foods that are healthy and that keep you full.
  • If you like lots of food on your plate, fill up with a large salad and a super serving of green beans, broccoli, cabbage, kale, or other low calorie vegetable.
  • Snack on berries. Dark berries (blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and raspberries) help strengthen the immune system and keep you well. They are also low in calories and fat, and high in fiber.
  • Avoid "empty calories" including sugary sodas and fruit drinks.

If you need more information on weight loss and dieting, talk to your primary health care practitioner, a registered dietitian or a certified personal trainer. Also, ask friends, family, or coworkers to join you as you work to change your eating habits and pare down your weight. Sticking to a weight loss plan is much easier when you have someone to support you.

Fitmotion Personal Training in Temecula can help you improve your quality of life in every way. Fitmotion takes pride in offering a private and much more personal approach to fitness and weight loss than traditional gyms. Whatever your health and fitness goals may be, we are confident that you will find the guidance and support you need at Fitness Together Personal Training in Temecula. Contact us today to request a FREE Fitness Consultation!

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