Every year doctors and nutritionists around the world dream up diets of all kinds. A quick Google search or trip to the bookstore and you’ll see there’s no shortage of weight loss tips. Here are three classic fad diets and the reasons why they simply aren’t effective.
1. The Master Cleanse
Dating all the way back to 1941, The Master Cleanse was created by Stanley Burroughs. Its had periodic popularity ever since. For about two weeks, you are told to sustain life on a lovely mixture of lemon juice, water, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. The allotment is two 1-liter bottles of this concoction per day. Hunger pangs are supposedly numbed by chugging down this odd blend of sweet, spicy and sour. To top it all off, at the end of the day, you’re told to down a glass of warm salt water which in turn sends you running for the toilet instead of bed. Of course it works, you’re consuming minimal calories, all of which are liquid, for two weeks. It’s just that it has nothing to do with what’s in that disgusting juice blend. And it certainly won’t help keep the weight off.
2. The Atkins Diet
Doctor Robert Atkins created this eponymous diet in the 1970s. In short, the diet cuts out carbohydrates so your body will burn all the fat you’ve stored up instead of the glucose in the carb-y foods. There are four phases; each phase allows the addition of a few more carbs and a few additional food types. All along though, you can keep on stuffing your face with meat and cheese. And oh, was it popular. In fact, it continues to be. Why not? All the protein-rich meat, fish, eggs, butter and oil you want! The problem with low-carb diets is that you’re actually losing mostly water weight, especially at first. Furthermore, the Atkins diet promises the loss of up to 15 pounds in the first two weeks. That kind of speedy weight loss never lasts. Dr. Atkins died of a heart attack in 2003. While it doesn’t get much more ironic than that, it is unclear that his dieting approach had anything to do with his death.
3. The Grapefruit Diet
The origins of the Grapefruit Diet are uncertain, but it has been around since at least the 1930s. Most plans last for 12 days and promise a 10-pound weight loss. The basis here is that the grapefruit is a miraculous wonder food with a magical fat-burning enzyme. Well, that’s just not true. There is no scientific basis for this whatsoever. The truth is, the diet is very restricting (typically 800-1000 calories, very limited food options). Anyone on a diet like that will lose weight. But again, the results won’t last because you aren’t changing your overall eating habits. Nothing against the wonderful grapefruit. It’s a very nutritious fruit, low in calories and high in vitamin C and fiber. It’s just not a fat burner.
What actually works
1. Identify your ‘weakest link’ when it comes to dieting. You probably already know what it is. Maybe it is afternoon or midnight snacking. Maybe it’s your sweet tooth or alcohol consumption. Whatever the issue, address these vulnerabilities head-on.
2. Keep it simple and find one or two changes you can make in your diet right now. Cut out something that’s bad for you, or add something that’s good. Everyone wants immediate results, but little improvements, a few at a time, is the best way to go.
3. After a few weeks time, assess whether or not the small changes you are making are working. If they are, great! If not, try something else. Realistically it takes a few months to see real and healthy weight loss.
The fad diet market is a billion dollar one. Don’t waste time and money. A slow and steady progress towards weight loss is the surest.