It seems like every week there is a new diet that people are raving about. People have lost tons of weight just eating X,Y and Z. Some of them have some merit to them and others just boggle my mind that people would actually do them and believe they will work. So when it comes to dieting, I have a few factors that I recommend people consider before jumping on any program.
Can I sustain this diet? Is this diet or program sustainable over long periods of time? If you’re starving yourself for 4-6 weeks to get down to a certain weight, the rebound following will almost surely bring you up above your starting weight once you return to your normal eating patterns. This is what is referred to as “yo-yo” dieting and it can wreak havoc on your metabolism. Forget about short term gain, think more long term success.
Do these dietary guidelines seem drastic? You can absolutely lose weight just eating twinkies or just eating at mcdonalds only, both of which have been done. Does that mean that you should try it? No. A caloric deficit is a large factor in weight loss so it shouldn’t surprise you that if you only ate 1,000 calories of twinkies, you will probably see the numbers on the scale start to decline, along with your health. A large part of that is due to the lack of nutrients (micronutrients) your body is NOT receiving. A really well laid out diet or program should consider micronutrients as well as macronutrients (fats, carbs fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, total calories, etc.)
Does the diet promise fast results? Now this is one that many people won’t want to her but there is no QUICK sustainable solution that will provide long term success. I usually set the bar at 1-2 lbs per week depending on how much weight the person has to loose. Often times, the first week or two of a new plan one might see slightly higher weightloss numbers. Quick results usually are fast to flee whereas slow steady progress allows the body to adjust along the way. Think of the tortoise and the hare. DO you want to win or do you want to look good in the immediate short term and lose the battle? I’ve learned that in fitness, and life, quick short term fixes usually don’t last.
So those are three of my top guidelines to consider when evaluating whether to do a particular diet or not. While they may sound easy enough, I can’t believe how many I come across that don’t meet the above criteria but still gain a lot of steam or popularity. My mindset is I always want to be able to build off of something. Ask the question, where am I 6,8,12 and so on weeks from now? I always suggest focusing on the day at hand but the long term strategy should be there and you should understand it. What are the progressions to the program? Just answering the three questions above will help you avoid a large number of garbage programs out there that people are following that will eventually lead them to eventually crash and burn.