Do fad diets really work?


It’s January and almost everyone is on some kind of diet: low carb, low fat, cutting out chocolate, etc…but do these fad diets work?

It’s the new year and magazines and social media are full of articles on how to lose weight quickly by following some new (or old) quick fix diet, such as the juice diet, cutting carbs, not eating after 8pm or any other restrictive diet out there. Have you started 2022 with a restrictive diet plan to lose weight? Diets are seen as short term until you reach your desired weight or specific goal, but food isn’t a short-term fix – we need food to live, to fuel our bodies and therefore, we need to learn how to incorporate all foods into a healthy lifestyle. The best way to achieve lifelong wellness is to make long-term and sustainable changes.

Why don’t restrictive diets work long term?

Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy food without worrying about what you can and can’t eat? Restrictive diets simply don’t work for many reasons:

  1. They don’t include the necessary nutrients to keep the body healthy.
  2. You feel hungry all the time.
  3. They lead to feelings of missing out and failure.
  4. They lead to bouts of binge eating.
  5. They lead to the metabolism slowing down (which makes it harder to lose weight).
  6. They lead to loss of muscle mass.
  7. They can affect the balance of your hormones.
  8. They can make you unhappy and miserable.
  9. They can greatly affect your mental health.

But I lose weight when I do diet?

Yes, of course you will lose weight if you restrict calories excessively but apart from feeling hungry, it will lead to feelings of failure when you can’t sustain it. You ‘give in’ to that piece of cake and then you feel like you have failed and give up. Why? Cake is nice so why would you not want to eat and enjoy it? Healthy eating is all about enjoying a vast range of different foods. No food is ‘bad’ although some foods are more nutrient dense than others and that’s the difference.  How often do you eat something that you perceive as being bad, feel that you shouldn’t be eating it (while you are actually eating it) and then feel guilty afterwards? We shouldn’t set ourselves up to fail. Humans like to succeed at things (it makes us feel happy and good about ourselves), so it’s totally bizarre to set ourselves up to do something with certain failure. Unfortunately, because of fad diets, promises of fast weight loss and the diet culture marketing, this will take time to become the normal way, but the sooner you start the easier it will be and the less you will have to think about it.

How can I get results without a diet?

Of course, you need to watch portion sizes, include plenty of nutrient dense foods and include some exercise. This isn’t about eating anything and everything all the time – you could try this but it would lead to feelings of being full and uncomfortable all the time. It’s about eating what you fancy in moderation and stopping eating when you feel satiated. It can take 20 minutes before your brain realises that you have had sufficient to eat.  I like the word ‘sufficient’ – it’s enough without over-eating! You don’t need to cut out certain foods, only eat at certain times or follow restrictive or fad diets. Not only do they not work but they can be damaging to your mental and physical health.  Diets like this can take over your life, leave you feeling guilty, affect your social life and have you planning everything around food. Say no and instead, choose health and happiness.

Juicing – the detox your body doesn’t need

One fad diet that seems popular in the new year is the ‘juice detox’ which is the blending of various fruits to make a drink and only drinking this whilst excluding solid food. I like to call this one the ‘throw away the best bits of the fruit and keep the worst’! This is a popular diet used to ‘detox’, however your body already has two great cleansing systems in place – your liver and kidneys! These are super-efficient at filtering out harmful chemicals, alcohol, urea and food waste, and all you need to do to keep them functioning efficiently is to drink water! Here’s what happens with a juice diet only:

  1. Once fruit is juiced, it not only loses the fibre that whole fruits have but it contains high amounts of sugar which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Planning your whole diet around sugar is a bad idea.
  2. Only having juice will mean that you get hungrier more quickly due to the lack of fibre, and the fact that when fructose and fibre are separated the sugar is digested much more quickly. You are basically throwing away the best part of the fruit and leaving yourself with sugar and water.
  3. Drinking your calories is not nearly as satisfying as enjoying food.
  4. Restricting your calories greatly through juice diets can wreak havoc with your metabolism.
  5. Juicing is not healthier than eating solid foods and could potentially be harmful to your health.
  6. You are likely to be tired and lack energy.
  7. Your digestive system doesn’t need a rest!

Of course, you can enjoy a smoothie or juice as part of a healthy diet, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to just juices.

So, what should you be eating?

  1. Protein – Protein is needed for your cells (including the muscle cells) to grow and repair. Think of building blocks making them stronger. Include foods such as chicken, meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, seeds, nuts and legumes.
  2. Carbohydrates – Carbs are needed to fuel the body. They are our main fuel source. Think of putting petrol in the car – you wouldn’t get far without any! They are needed to keep your body’s engine running. Include foods such as fruit, vegetables, bread, beans, milk, potatoes and pasta.
  3. Fat – Fat is needed to give your body energy and to support cell function and is an essential part of a healthy diet. There are different types of fat and saturated fats should be limited, as too much can lead to weight gain and heart disease. These are usually the fats that are more solid at room temperature such as butter. It doesn’t mean that you have to cut them out completely, just be mindful of how much you are eating. Include foods such as avocados, eggs, cheese, fatty fish, nuts, dark chocolate and olive oil.
  4. Water! Water is needed to digest food, to get rid of waste and to keep cells functioning. Aim to drink about 2 litres a day to keep everything working properly.

Research has shown that cutting certain foods out of your diet greatly increases your awareness of them. You will naturally want to eat what you’ve told yourself you can’t! In a study, people who ate dessert had more success at losing weight and keeping it off than those who deprived themselves. So go grab that cake or biscuit, ladies!

We all have days and weeks when we are tired or busy, and exercise and healthy eating seem to go out of the window as we need something quick or comforting instead. Meal planning and prepping is important so that you always have something ready to eat meaning you aren’t reaching for the snacks while you cook or relying on takeaways too often. You need a good support system and to be accountable to keep you on track whilst your new healthy habits are forming.

Let W Fitness help you with those small changes needed to create a happy and healthy lifestyle. W Fitness doesn’t promote any rapid weight loss diets or potentially dangerous exercise plans. As a small family run, independent ladies’ gym, we have always promoted a healthy and sustainable lifestyle and we are so pleased to see some of the larger gyms starting to follow our lead.

Visit us to see how we can help you create healthy and sustainable long-term wellness goals. We are not a short-term quick fix! We are here for your whole physical and mental wellbeing journey!

Message us today for your free consultation, or book onto one of our classes to get started straight away!

Much Love

Caroline & Hannah xx