By Martin Ebner
The word diet brings on a severe case of angst in most people. Having to reduce calories is bad enough but fad diets and cutting out entire foods groups is truly awful.
What is a fad diet?
A fad diet is any number of weight-loss diets that eliminate one or more of the essential food groups. They encourage consumption of one type of food in excess at the expense of other foods. These types of diets are rarely ever endorsed by medical professionals.
Do they work?
In the short term, fad diets have proven effective for weight-loss. However, these results are often unhealthy and highly unsustainable.
I tried the very popular high fat, high protein, very low carb diet for 28 days over the summer and undoubtedly, the diet was effective in aiding fat-loss. I hit my sub 10% body-fat target after just 3 weeks and energetically i felt quite good. However, substituting one food group for another (in this case fat for carbs) is never a good idea. Within 28 days of returning to my normal healthy diet, i was back to +10% body-fat plus a few additional pounds. Not only did i regain the weight i'd lost in the same amount of time, i had developed a negative attitude towards carbohydrates in just 28 days.
These sorts of fad diets can be detrimental to your wellbeing. They can produce negative attitudes and feelings towards certain food groups which can encourage eating disorders. By cutting out entire food groups you're left, not only hungry but it can also dramatically increase your risk or poor health and illness through lack of vital nutrients.
What to do instead?
Reduce your calorie intake gradually
Reduce your carb, protein and fat intake equally and according to your health and fitness goals.
The problem with today's society is that we want it all and we want it now! Weight-loss is never instant and you must learn to be patient.
Avoid bad fats
Such as trans fat that you get from fried and processed foods and saturated fats that you get from animal sources.
Get your 5 a day
Make sure to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day! The more colourful the salad, the better it is for you!
Exercise 2-3 times a week and choose a form of exercise that is compatible with your fitness goals.
Dump the junk food
The best way to avoid eating crap processed food is to not buy it. If you have some stored away, have a clear out.
Eat smaller meals more frequently. Instead of 2-3 meals, break it up into 5-6 smaller meals.
Fill the tank with good food
The benefit of eating healthy food is that it's far less calorie dense than junk food. Forget big macs, fried foods and sugary snacks and instead fill your plate with colourful and highly nutritional fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, wholegrain carbohydrates and healthy fats.
Avoid excess sugar
I think I fail to ever write an article that doesn't include some negativity towards sugar. Eating or drinking sugar is destructive to weight-loss. It offers absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever and it's highly addictive. The only time you really need to consume sugar is post workout to help recover your glycogen and glucose levels which are depleted post workout.
By allowing yourself a treat once a week, your risk of overindulging in a bucket of KFC during a moment of weakness will be drastically reduced.
Avoid liquid calories
Fizzy drinks, full-fat lattes and fruit juice all have large amounts of unnecessary calories per glug.