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Fad Diets Why They Don't Work & What To Do Instead

No More Fad Diets - A Sustainable Way to Lose Weight

There’s nothing worse than an in-shape, super strict dieter who seemingly lives on nothing but healthy produce, telling you that losing weight is easy. If that were the case, obesity levels wouldn’t have peaked at an all-time high, and the vast majority of the general public would instead be walking around in fantastic shape.

The truth of the matter is that weight loss is not that easy, and some of us, therefore, require all the help that we can get. Sure, on paper it’s simply a case of eating less and exercising more, but in reality, it’s far from simple. To make matters worse, far too many people also tend to follow fad diets and therefore their weight loss is simply not sustainable. We want to change that. We want no more fad diets, and instead, want to look for healthy and sustainable ways of losing weight. Here are some tips for doing precisely that.

Begin slowly

One of the biggest mistakes people make when dieting, exercising, and trying to lose weight, is starting out too big too quickly. They suddenly go from one extreme to the other, without giving themselves any time to mentally or physically prepare. If you approach weight loss in that manner, you are more likely to fall off the wagon and fail because you’re simply not prepared for what lies ahead. Instead of completely changing your diet and lifestyle, begin with small steps and gradually implement more changes with each passing week.

If you’ve never exercised training in a gym before, forcing yourself into the gym six times per week right from the offset is going to prove extremely challenging. In fact, you won’t achieve it long term. You’ll find it too much, too soon and it will soon become boring. Instead, try two or three moderate exercise sessions per week and go from there.

Diet-wise, each week, try dropping your calories to a healthy but sustainable amount e.g. 1200 daily to start with but never go below 800 daily as this will cause issues with your basic metabolic rate and mess with your ability to lose weight and sustain that weight loss. You can work out your BMR by using this BMR calculator. Eat healthily and avoid processed foods. It’s easy to make good food at home on a low budget without compromising on taste.

Do not starve yourself

Still, in this day and age, despite knowing what we know about health, diet, and nutrition, people still seem to think that starvation is the answer when it comes to losing weight. The simple fact of the matter is that starving yourself is going to make you irritable, you’ll be hungry, you’ll feel miserable, and it will suppress your metabolism, so you find it even harder to lose weight.

Creating a very slight caloric deficit is conducive for weight loss, but an enormous deficit in which you barely eat at all will only slow things down. This is not a sustainable way of living and it is certainly not a sustainable way of losing weight. Instead, eat little and often, track your calories, each healthy produce, and ensure that you are not starving yourself or snacking on high calorie processed food.

Eat foods you enjoy

If you want the perfect example of a fad diet, how about the cabbage soup diet? Yep, the cabbage soup diet is still popular to this day, and people still follow it. What’s even more confusing is that people follow this diet, even though some of them cannot stand cabbage soup and it makes them nauseous. They force themselves to eat cabbage soup because it promotes weight loss, and they hate every single minute of it. Why? Because it’s another get slim quick solution. The issue is, when you go back to eating normally the weight will pile back on, and more than you lost in the first place.

Why not eat healthy foods that you do enjoy instead? If you want a sustainable way of losing weight, look for healthy foods that you enjoy eating, and prepare healthy and tasty meals that you will look forward to consuming. You can still eat your favourite junk food, but you can cook it yourself from home the healthy way. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than a pizza. But I can make a great pizza at home with none of the fat and calories but all the taste and more. You’ve just got to be creative. You just need a good pizza stone set for your oven or BBQ and great pizzas are on the way. (See my up and coming healthy pizza recipe) When I speak to people they tell me they don’t have the time to cook every day. The good news is, you don’t have to. Batch make your weekly meals and store them in portion control containers in the fridge.

Stop relying on the scales

Far, far too many people who are looking to lose weight will find themselves relying heavily if you’ll pardon the pun, on the bathroom scales. Don’t get me wrong, weighing yourself can be useful and can serve as a good indication as to whether or not you’re losing weight and are on the right track.

The problem is that too many people will focus solely on the numbers showing up on the scales and if the numbers don’t move, or even worse, if they move in the wrong direction, it can lead to a loss of motivation and throwing in the towel. You also need to remember muscle weighs heavier than fat and if you are undertaking a lifestyle change where you swap a processed food or fad diet for a plant-based healthy diet at the same time as training three times a week the likely hood is that you are going to put weight on but lose fat. For me this is a great objective, gain muscle, lose the flab.

Weighing yourself constantly can also lead to obsessive behaviour as people have been known to weigh themselves multiple times per day. The scales should not dictate your life, and remember, the scales are not indicative of fat loss, only weight. They do not consider water weight and muscle mass, nor the toxic weight that we carry around in our colons so just bear that in mind.

If you do insist on weighing yourself, do so once per week, on the same day at the same time.

Healthy Tips

  1. Eat a variety of foods. Make sure your diet includes the right amount of protein; complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; and "good" fats like omega-3 fats from avocados, nuts, and olives .

  2. Say no to bad fats. Minimize how much saturated fat and eliminate trans fats from fried foods, snacks, and fast-food products.

  3. Get Plenty of fruits and vegetables. A good reference point for adults is 2 to 3 cups of vegetables and 1.5 to 2 servings of fruits a day. I personally, eat as much as I can in one day and minimise everything else.

  4. Eat plenty of protein rich foods. Foods such as pulses, legumes, soya products and Bulgar Wheat are high in complete proteins which do not cause as much stress on your body as they are absorbed with very little processing.

  5. Exercise at least 150 minutes each week. This can be divided into smaller blocks of time. For example, you could do a brisk walk for 10 minutes three times a day for 5 days to reach 150 minutes.

  6. Clean out the kitchen! Toss out high-calorie, high-fat, sugary foods that will tempt you to overeat -- chips, cookies, crackers, ice cream, candy bars, and the like. Then, fill your fridge and cupboards with lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, good fats, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.

  7. Eat smaller meals more frequently. Aim for five to six mini-meals per day. Space your meals every 3 to 4 hours. Try taking low fat cheese and whole-grain crackers to school or work for a snack, or eat a tablespoon of peanut butter with one slice of whole-grain bread. Find foods that are healthy and that keep you full.

  8. Fill up on the good stuff. Pile on the salad and super servings of green beans, broccoli, cabbage, kale, or other low-calorie vegetables instead of high-fat foods, breads, pasta, and desserts. If you’re still hungry after a meal and you want seconds, go for veggies.

  9. Snack on berries, carrots and humus. Berries ( are rich in healthy antioxidants. and can help to rid your body of free radicals. Carrots and humus will help to curb cravings at the same time as providing a daily source of beta-carotene and protein, depending on how much you eat of course.

  10. Drink more water. Water makes up around 70% of your body composition and is essential to optimal health. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses or 2 litres of water daily. You can also help to save the planet by buying a cheap water purifier to help keep the amount of plastic bottles at bay.

  11. Avoid "empty calories." Steer clear of fizzy pop, packaged fruit juices and alcohol. If avoidance is an issue, keep your intake to a bear minimum and make your own juices.


If you are anything like me you've tried every fad diet on the market without success. If I've had an ounce of success it has been short lived. Questions to consider when thinking about your previous experience with fad dieting iare:

  • Have you been able to stay on any of the deprivation diets for a long time?

  • Did you lose weight?

  • Did the pounds stay off once you went back to your usual way of eating?

My guess is your answers were, no, yes, no. Fad diets don't help you keep off the weight in the long term. The best diet is not a diet at all, but a change in lifestyle that includes eating food you enjoy, undertaking the correct exercise and participating in healthy lifestyle habits.

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