Don’t Get Fleeced by a Fad Diet That Cares More About Your Money Than Your Health
You’re not the first person to wonder how to lose weight.
You always see these people on the TV in 80s style Latex jumpers with big smiles on their face pitching some “delicious chocolate shake” like it’s the key to their rock star body.
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Those people are liars! They make no mention about their army of personal trainers and highly skilled chefs who somehow turn broccoli and Brussels sprouts into something that tastes like a bucket of chicken from KFC.
Sure, if you can afford to pay a professional nutritionist a full-time wage to follow you around and knock donuts out of your hand, you’ll end up looking great. For the rest of us, there’s just miserable dieting.
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How many of you remember back when you were sixteen and going through a growth spurt? Remember those glorious days when you had to eat a whole bacon double cheeseburger just to take the edge of your ravenous starvation so you could slow down and enjoy the second one?
It was a brief, fleeting window for most of us, and then the reality of our slow metabolisms kicked in.
In your 20s, you could lose weight just but not eating French fries for three out of the seven days in a week.
In your thirties, the French fries became a thing of the past, and by your 40s, it seemed like you started gaining weight by eating too much broccoli.
Or how about this, you spend six days diligently obeying a diet, enduring miserable hunger pains, only to jump on a scale and realize you’ve lost only a quarter of a pound! Finally, you break down, eat something really delicious, jump on a scale, and instantly you’re ten pounds heavier.
It’s the miserable ebb and flow of dieting.
But now that we’ve set the bar at the level of reality, it’s time to offer a few actual solutions to your dieting woes. The fact is, adopting a healthy lifestyle is a mindset, and there are no shortcuts.
The whole key to making dieting work is to get to a point where you actually see results. Hard work all by itself is mentally difficult to maintain, but seeing the fruits of your labor can give you the strength to carry on.
If you go into a diet with a short-term commitment and reasonable expectations, you greatly enhance your chances of succeeding in your weight-loss ambitions.
Obesity, a Growing Problem
Obesity in adults aged 20 and over in the US
Obesity rates by countries data from 2015
Obesity is a growing health issue in the United States. It’s been estimated that obesity results in health care costs that amount to a staggering 190.2 billion dollars! Obesity can lead to a lot of health problems including:
- Physical Inactivity
Becoming overweight wears you out and causes you to spend a lot more time feeling lethargic and a lot more money treating preventable health problems. But never fear, it is possible to conquer obesity!
Why Most Diets Fail
Most diets have some sort of reasonable basis behind them if you’re willing to dig deep enough. Nevertheless, most of the people who try new diets find they can’t get them to work. They try them for a few days and then give up in frustration.
However, if you recalibrate your thinking, you’ll find you have greater dieting success. The two main reasons diets fail are because:
- The commitment is too long
- The dieter has unrealistic goals
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I Hate Commitment!
Look, you can’t look at yourself in the mirror and declare, “I can never have French fries again!” Because later that afternoon when you’re gorging yourself on a bucket of delicious French fries with tears streaming down your face, you feel like a failure.
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Let’s keep it positive!
The fact is you can figure out a diet that allows you to have French fries occasionally and still lose weight (I lied about how French fries are forbidden before). You just have to be smart about it.
But the larger point here is don’t try to make a huge lifestyle change all at once. Instead of “I’ll never have French fries again,” say “I won’t have French fries for one week.” That’s something you reasonably might be able to achieve.
The Dieter Has Unrealistic Goals
Again, don’t set yourself up for failure by holding yourself to an unrealistic standard. Don’t sit there and say, “I need to lose 150 pounds.” Say to yourself, “I need to lose 3 pounds.” Then do it, and when you finish the objective, take a break.
Having a positive mindset is a big part of this whole procedure. Give yourself a chance to celebrate because if you aren’t allowing yourself any positive feedback guess what? Yes, that’s right, you’re going to give up on your diet.
The Drink Only Water Diet (While Still Eating)
Before we get into anything complicated, let’s try something basic. Here’s a diet so simple that you don’t even have to consult your doctor over it (disclaimer: please consult your doctor before starting a new diet).
One of the easiest ways to cut down on calories is not to drink them. You literally can’t imagine how many calories you’re sucking down on a daily basis in the form of soda, juice, or chocolate milkshakes.
Also, those darn monstrosities that they sell you at Starbucks for fifty-eight dollars with the whipped cream and chocolate/caramel drizzle are really fattening. Oh, that surprises you?
Here’s a diet for you that’s super basic and super healthy, and you’ll be surprised how much weight you lose and how much money you save. The rules are simple:
- Eat whatever you want
- Drink only water
- Do it for seven days
That’s it, no coffee, no soda, no fruit juice, no (gasp) alcohol. Every time you go out to eat you say, “Water please!” Water, water, water, water! You’ll be super bored after 3 days, but after 5 you’ll think you can make it.
Drinking only water for seven days help you begin a habit of healthy eating, and every time you go out to eat, you’ll find your bill is slashed. This is an easy diet that requires no exercise and helps you calibrate how your body responds to a drop in caloric intake. Try it!
Sugar is the Enemy!
If the drink only water diet works for you, stick with it, heck you can even give yourself a cheat day once a week. But if you’ve gotten to the end of your seven days and you want to crank up the volume a little bit, try intentionally cutting back on your sugar.
The thing is, sugar is what makes people gain weight. It’s not fat; it’s the sugar (you can actually keep eating bacon if you want to). And although you’d think you can avoid sugar, you can’t. Sugar is everywhere, in fact, here’s a list of things that contain a surprising amount of sugar:
- Fruit juice
- Chocolate Milk
Aw, c’mon man! Are you serious?
Yes, I’m afraid I am. And yeah, again you have to give up candy bars and alcohol.
When CAN You Permit Yourself Some Sugar?
Okay, for those of you who have a super sweet tooth and are considering giving up on this article (please don’t), I can tell you the super secret for how you can still keep sugar in your life even on a healthy diet.
The secret is: exercise!
Yeah, I’m sorry, I’m not sure that’s all that much better. But here’s the thing, when your body starts working hard, it actually kicks into “flight” mode, and the body wants and needs sugars to burn fast.
What that means is that if you go and run a 5k or something, you can actually eat a candy bar after and not destroy your diet. It’s like pouring high octane fuel into a racing motor. If you pour it when the motor needs it, then you don’t do any damage.
All this means is that if you find yourself in the throes of a terrible sugar craving, don’t try to deny yourself (that never works). Just go on a run, get your heart rate up, and then have your candy bar. Give yourself at least the chance to maintain your diet (and wash it down with water).
Natural Sugars Are Better
Another way to battle that sweet tooth is to allow yourself some fruit every now and then. Not fruit juice, but fruit. True, there is still a lot of sugar in fruit, but it is naturally occurring sugar, not processed corn syrup.
Fruit also has some other dietary advantages. It tends to have a high water content that helps fill you up, plus there are plenty of vitamins and fiber. You shouldn’t overdo it with fruit, but if you’re craving something sweet try reaching for an apple instead of a Snickers bar.
We’ve been telling you a lot of foods to avoid, in the next section we’ll mention foods to focus on. The word ‘superfood’ is a bit of a marketing ploy, to be honest. There’s nothing particularly super about these foods.
However, foods that commonly fall under the superfood label are foods that a high nutrient value with few negative components. If you want to strip dieting down to its bare essence, add these foods to your grocery list:
Good Fats and Bad Fats
You know how when you go to the doctor, and they complain to you that your cholesterol is all wrong. Your “bad” fat is high, and your “good” fat is low, then you scratch your head and wonder what the doctor is ranting and raving about?
Well, if you start emphasizing superfoods in your diet, you’ll notice that the cholesterol problem sort of takes care of itself. I could sit here and tell you that you want to eat unsaturated fats rather than saturated, but you’ll probably forget that.
Instead, I’ll tell you that instead of using mayonnaise on your sandwich, use guacamole (be careful not to buy guacamole that’s made with mayonnaise). Guacamole is made from avocados and provides a similar taste to mayonnaise without the negative health effects.
What you’ll find as you commit yourself to healthier eating is that you don’t have to give up all the flavors you enjoy. Instead, what you want to do is find healthy substitutes that approximate or improve upon the flavors you already love. Seriously, guacamole is fantastic—I never eat anything else.
The problem with diet fads is not that the diets are bad, but that people don’t follow them correctly. Generally speaking, people don’t research a new diet. Instead, they have a half hour conversation with a person at the gym, and then try to implement a new diet based on that uninformed talk.
Trying a new diet is great, but before you commit yourself to something you have to really look into it (and consult a doctor as I mentioned before). Don’t just decide to subsist exclusively on Pop-tarts because your neighbor claims he was able to do it and lose 30 pounds.
The other thing to remember about diet is that everyone’s body chemistry is different. Some of us are allergic to peanuts; some of us are allergic to eggs. That’s just the way it is. There’s no one size fits all diet, you have to keep experimenting until you find something that works for you.
So by all means, try new diets, just be informed and do it responsibly.
Some recent diet fads include:
- Atkins diet
- Keto diet
- Bulletproof diet
- Okinawa diet
The Atkins diet is a low carbohydrate diet. That means that instead of eating things like bread or pasta, you’re eating protein and fat.
There has been significant debate as to the long-term health effects of this diet. Although a high fat/high protein diet will make you lose weight, it isn’t a recommended diet if you are, for example, an endurance athlete.
If you decide to choose a radical diet like the Atkins diet, exercise extreme caution.
A Keto diet is like a less extreme version of the Atkins diet. It is still a fat and protein heavy, but there is a little more allowance for carbohydrates. Bodybuilders often use variations of Keto diets.
A keto diet can be a method for reducing blood sugar and insulin levels which help in combating diabetes. Various forms of Keto diets include:
- Standard Ketogenic diet-Low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet
- Cyclical Ketogenic diet-Higher carb days alternating with a standard Ketogenic diet
- Targeted Ketogenic diet-Carbs added during workouts
- High Protein Ketogenic diet-Standard Ketogenic diet plus more protein
A professional nutritionist can help you design and monitor the diet that works best for you and help you make appropriate, reasonable changes until you get the results that you want. These diets are about eating smarter, never about starving yourself.
NFL quarterback Alex Smith has provided some vocal endorsements of the bulletproof diet which claims to allow you to lose up to a pound a day. The bulletproof diet wants you to get 50-60% of your daily calories through healthy fats (like the ones we discussed before).
When following the bulletproof diet, you avoid grains and legumes as well as dairy, sodas and juices, meats, and dried fruit.
Also, you start your day on the bulletproof diet with bulletproof coffee. Bulletproof coffee consists of coffee, butter, and coconut oil. The coffee is supposed to stop hunger and improve mental functions.
We mentioned before that Japan has one of the smallest obesity rates in the world, so it makes sense to look at their diet. The Okinawa diet is less of a fad diet, and more of a traditional diet people have been using for hundreds of years.
This diet consists of 30% green, yellow, and orange vegetables, 6% legumes, and purple sweet potato. Okinawans include meat, dairy, and seafood in small amounts. The whole diet is very low on sugar.
Creating Success That You Can Build On
A diet can be as simple as cutting out French fries, or complex to the level where you are weighing and testing the composition of every piece of food that goes into your body. But you have to find something that works for you.
Above all, listen to your body. Your body knows what it needs, and if you start to crave a certain flavor, it could be your fancy diet is starving your body of nutrients that you vitally need.
As much as we all focus on our stomachs, your mind is going to be the most critical factor as to whether or not your dieting efforts result in success. Set reasonable goals for yourself, and allow yourself to celebrate achievements, even if they are less than you had hoped for.
Committing to weight loss is a commitment to an overall healthy lifestyle. This isn’t the type of thing that changes from one day to the next. Success happens over time, and you have to be cognizant of your baby steps.
Monitor your eating and your weight, and find positives that you can build on. When you find something that works, stick with it and improve on it. At the end of the day, you’re the world’s #1 expert on your own body. Have fun trying out new diets; your favorite food might be out there waiting to be discovered!