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Why fad diets lead to yo-yoing weight, and tips for real healthy eating

The list of fad diets goes on and on.

FadDiets

South Beach, Atkins, blood type, Zone, low fat, low carb, no carb, negative calorie, acai berry, cabbage soup, all juice, HCG, 3-day, 17-day… the list of fad diets goes on and on. Even as a dietitian, I find it challenging to keep up on the latest weight loss “craze.” Chances are, though, that you or someone you know has attempted one of these all-too-popular diets. The real question is, do they really work?

The truth is, they don’t usually work. That is not to say you won’t lose weight with a lot of these diets, because you often will. However, jumping on these fad diets often means that “yo-yo dieting” isn't far behind. This term was developed for people who try diet after diet after diet and see their weight go up and down with each new attempt, just like a yo-yo. There are a couple of reasons fad diets trigger this yo-yo effect and often become a dead end for maintaining weight loss.

Why fad diets don’t work

For starters, fad diets tend to be very low-calorie, which results in rapid weight loss. This may sound like a good thing, but it’s actually harder to maintain your weight this way, as compared to losing it in a slow and steady manner. With a healthy weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week, it is easier to stick to the changes you’ve made in your lifestyle and maintain your new weight.

Fad diets are also usually very specific and limiting. These diets are almost impossible to maintain over a lifetime, so once you’ve had enough of the fad, you go right back to eating like you used to. The secret to changing your diet is to make it your own; making small, healthy changes allows you to eat the foods you enjoy while still shedding the pounds.

Here’s what does

Here are just some tips that can help you make small changes in your diet that can result in long-term weight loss that are easy to maintain:

1. Don’t skip meals. Eating at least three meals a day helps you keep your appetite under control. Skipping a meal will often lead to overeating at your next meal.

2. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Based on the new Healthy Plate that recently replaced the Food Pyramid, half of the food you put on your lunch and dinner plates should be vegetables and fruits.

3. Enjoy more whole grains. Making half of your grain choices from whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat bread not only is more nutritious, but it adds fiber to your diet. Fiber helps you feel more satisfied and keeps you feeling full longer.

4. Cut out the liquid calories. It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day, especially during summer. Instead of reaching for a sugary drink (including vitamin waters, Gatorade, iced tea, lemonade, soda and alcoholic beverages), reach for ice-cold water. Need a bit of flavor? Try adding lemon juice, pureed cucumber or an orange wedge for some no-calorie flavoring.

5. “Skinny” your fat. It may be a tough change, but switching from whole-milk products to their slimmer versions can help you decrease your fat and calorie intake. Non-fat or 1% milk is the way to go.

6. No “double-dipping.” Any type of sauce or dip made with cream, mayo or cheese is going to pack a calorie punch. Try making the switch to oil and vinegar, or lemon juice, for flavor without the added fat.

To learn more, check out some of these resources for support and more information:
USDA
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
American Heart Association

This article originally appeared on www.HealthBytesNYC.com. Information provided by Stefanie Mendez, a clinical dietitian at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt hospitals.

 
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