Written by R. S Jacobs
Fad diet image

I am going to give you a quick straight-forward answer – NO!

Many of us are familiar with constant barrage of quick fix weight loss “miracles” advertised in the media, promising that you will lose a wildly unrealistic amount of weight within an impossible amount of time. You have to remember, the weight loss business is a billion dollar industry and sadly, a large amount of those in this industry are only interested in getting their hands on a big share of the pie and are more than happy to ride the ‘get rich quick’ train.

This kind of people doesn’t care about possible underlying reasons that may have contributed to your weight gain, or even the long-term health-related consequences as a result of an endless cycle of fad diets that don’t lead to long-term sustainable results. Their main goal is to expand their media presence with their doctored client photos (based on unhealthy starvation/liquid/restricted food group methods), which in turn lands them a string of endorsement deals to brainwash their growing followers.

A lot of people are going to bite my head off for writing this because so many people love a quick fix solution to their problems – the quicker, the better! Don’t get me wrong, fad diets do help people lose significant weight within a short amount of time, however, what is not considered is the nutritional damage that is sustained due to unhealthy methods. More importantly, it is impossible for you to sustain the weight loss long-term, and even worse than that is, once you go back to your normal routine, your body freaks out and then stores everything as fat. The reason we want to get fit is to be healthy and strong, but many fads have the opposite effect by taking the unhealthy route, by cutting major food groups, living off liquid diets and replacement shakes or in many cases, complete starvation.

From my experience, you are simply going from bad to worse as you put your body under intense strain during your quick fix solution. The destructive cycle of yo-yo dieting and skipping meals deprives the body of essential nutrients that can cause a wide variety of nutrient deficiency diseases. In addition, your relationship with food becomes so unhealthy, that you end up seeing food as the enemy rather than fuel. Your body goes into starvation mode, trying to fight the weight loss, and keep an equilibrium within the body. Eventually, your body loses that battle, resulting in initial weight loss (often not fat loss, but muscle wastage!), and you see yourself getting smaller so you are encouraged to persevere, despite your body sending you constant warning signs in the form of headaches, lethargy and generally feeling weak all the time.

As soon as your fad diet plan has come to an end, you’re so delighted to start eating normally again, and so is your body! So much so that your body tries everything possible to revert to your previous weight by transferring everything you consume to stored fat, you gain even more fat because your body saw the restricted dieting or starvation as an attack, and now is switched into fat storing mode. This vicious cycle clearly indicates that your metabolism is totally out of sync and desperately needs to recalibrate.

Not only does this take its toll on you physically but more dangerously (and often not advised) is the effect it takes on you mentally, as your mood swings crash from high to low depending on how close you are to your next meal. I can tell you this from my own personal experience as I was guilty of trying one fad diet after another, in the desperate hope that I would lose weight quickly. After years of trying (and failing) to achieve any sort of consistency with my weight, severe malnutrition, extreme exhaustion, and constantly feeling like a failure, I realised that despite losing weight here and there (and piling it back on again, often twice as much), fad diets were not the answer!

Often people think that by cutting out an entire food group, most commonly carbs (essential for forming cells) or fats (essential for brain development), then you will be bikini body ready in no time. Our body is a machine, machines need fuel, and it is designed to work at its utmost capacity when we provide it with the right balance of micro and macro nutrients found across all food groups. It’s like filling your car tank with water, and then getting shocked when the engine won’t start!

The key is moderation! Losing weight can be very daunting, the first steps are most certainly the hardest, but slow and steady is always the approach. A wise man once told me that I didn’t gain weight overnight, and I certainly can’t expect to lose it overnight either! You have to make a conscious lifestyle change, rather than a quick fix solution. Focus on making conscious choices daily that work toward your goal of being as healthy as you can be, and don’t waste your time trying to measure your weight, shape or success of a #transformation picture that flashed up on your social media feeds.

I always tell my clients one thing – calories in vs calories out. That’s the ultimate formula for losing weight and staying in shape. For those who are starting their weight loss journey, here are a few tried and tested simple rules.

* Food Group Restriction. Never cut out an entire food group, instead minimise the overall food intake. Dish yourself smaller portions, maybe buy a smaller plate and make sure you are getting as many of your required nutrients through your meals.

* Lift Weights. Weights have been paramount to me, not only achieving long-term fat loss but achieving strong, toned muscles. As this is such an important point, I will be dedicating an article to why everyone should lift weights!

* Drink Lots of Water. Your body is 60% water and it requires constant hydration so it can process essential daily functions with ease. Aim to drink between 2 and 3 litres of water a day. I often like to drink a glass of water about 15 minutes before my meal as I have less of a tendency to overeat. Another tip is that most of the time when you think you are peckish, you are actually thirsty!

* Move more! Exercising can’t be stressed enough. The benefits are endless, not only will you reduce your body fat, but it releases endorphin which will improve your mood dramatically. You don’t need to join a gym, start small with something like walking, and then check out some exercise videos online and find something you enjoy!

* Be Consistent. When you decide your food and exercise routine, choose something that you can sustain long-term and always keep in mind the long-term goal. It’s essential that you remain persistent and allow yourself time to see results, as the famous saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day! The body thrives on routine as it knows what to expect from one day to the next.

* No Processed Sugar. Processed sugar is the enemy and needs to be removed from your diet immediately. That means no processed food, canned drinks, shop bought fruit juices/smoothies, pre-made jars of sauce, ready-made meals, cereals, healthy snack bars.  Most people don’t even realise how much sugar they consume on a daily basis, and it is one of the main reasons that the world is getting fatter every year. The body does not have any use for processed sugar, and due to this, it gets stored as fat in the body (specifically stored in the stomach). Get into the habit of reading the label for the sugar content, you will be surprised at just how much sugar they manage to hide in day-to-day essentials. You will be shocked at how easy it is to eliminate processed sugar from your diet if you make conscious choices.

* Healthy Eating. The most obvious tip is to eat good, wholesome, healthy food. Aim to incorporate vegetables, legumes and fruit across your meals throughout the day. A balanced diet should always have the right macro and micronutrients. You should always cook your meals from scratch as you will know exactly what you are putting into your body, preparing your food in bulk portions is super easy and makes life much easier during a busy week. Make sure your salt, alcohol and saturated fat intake is minimal, and aim to eradicate them from your diet altogether.

In conclusion, avoid fad diets at all costs, focus on healthy fat loss and maintaining a consistent routine that works towards a healthy life. A healthy lifestyle is much easier to maintain than short-term fad diets, so don’t allow yourself to be lured into a false sense of security that fad diet promises. Remember, it takes time to put on weight and it takes time to lose it, so be patient and accept that one size does not fit all when it comes to meals and exercising, choose a plan that matches your lifestyle and preferences. Focus on eating balanced meals that are full of nutrients, drink lots of water and keep active! Your body has been putting up with toxic foods for years, isn’t it time you started treating your body right?!

Stay strong, Warriors.


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