Let’s talk about fad diets

There are lots of fad diets out there: low carb, low fat, low calorie, fasting, meal replacements… the list is endless, but which one should you do?

As a teenager I attempted a lot of these diets, and to begin with, they all worked. I lost weight. Unfortunately, the diets weren’t sustainable; you can’t eat like that forever. So the weight went back on and I moved on to the next fad. This not very healthy way of eating is called yoyo dieting and it can seriously mess with your physical and mental health.

The main gist of all these diets is to flip the energy balance so that you are burning more calories than you are eating. Even if you aren’t counting calories, removing an entire food group from your diet drastically reduces what you are able to eat. A chicken salad sandwich is around 500-600 calories, take the bread away and that reduces the calorie content down to 300ish. The same for meal replacement diets; you may not be counting the calories in your breakfast shake and soup lunch, but they are super low to allow for your one “proper” meal a day.

Ways to tell your fad diet has taken an unhealthy turn

  • On “weigh day” you find yourself not eating or drinking until after you’ve been weighed, this could mean it’s 7pm before anything passes your lips.
  • You feel lethargic, lack energy and generally feel a bit rubbish – all the time.
  • You have a panic attack because you accidentally drank full fat coke.
  • Hair and nails start shedding and snapping more.
  • After a “perfect” day on your diet you find yourself sat on your kitchen floor at 2am eating your families leftover mashed potatoes that you “weren’t allowed”.
  • You’ve lost intensity in your workouts because your body just hasn’t got anything to give.
  • There are many more red flags to an unhealthy diet, but these are just a few from mine and my clients experiences.

So, what should you do instead?

Start by using a food diary, this can be by hand or on an app like MyFitnessPal. You don’t have to eat drastically low calories to lose weight, just 250-500 below your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) will give you a steady weight loss of 1-2lbs a week and you CAN eat all the food groups and the occasional sweet treat without losing progress. For a week or 2, eat as normally as you can and track everything. Once you've seen how you like to eat, you can tweak your normal diet into being healthier and in a calorie deficit, whilst still eating food you like.

If you want long term weight loss you need to look at what you can do long term, and though some people are able to cast certain foods aside forever. you don't have to be one of them. You can be fit and healthy and still be a foodie.

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If you're still not sure how to tweak your normal way of eating into a plan for progress, contact me at Fitness Republic