Ah, diets. Picking how you eat is an even bigger decision than choosing your haircut or new wardrobe. This isn’t just about the outside, your diet physically and chemically changes you on the inside. It can be overwhelming, especially with so many crazy options out there. Here are a few red flags to watch out for when looking for a new eating lifestyle.
1. Claims that this is the only way everyone should be eating.
There is no perfect diet for everyone. It’s not physiologically possible. If the diet you’re looking at claims it’s the absolute, only answer to everyone’s woes, run.
Take this excerpt from Robb Wolf’s website on the Paleo diet: “The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic!” Yeah, um, false. So, so false. Not to mention the fact that there are zero sources cited to support this insanely general claim. I won’t address the entire thing now, but be on the look out for a post on my opinion of the Paleo diet.
2. Promises of life-changing, body-altering results in a short amount of time.
Karen lost 20 pounds in just two weeks! WOW! Nope. The maximum amount of weight you can safely lose is about 2 pounds per week. Anything more than that and you’re getting into losing water weight and even muscle mass. Getting healthy and fit requires hard work and time. There is no “quick fix”.
Take a look at this nutty page I found on Pinterest. Even just the title alone is enough: “The Diet That Helped Everyone Lose Weight: 20 Pounds Less For Just Two Weeks”. For just two weeks? Sounds about right. Anything that has you losing a ton of weight fast will have you packing it right back on.
3. No exercise required!!!
This is one of my absolute pet peeves. Repeat after me: Exercise is not evil. Again, louder this time. Exercise is not evil. I don’t understand why everyone vilifies working out. Is it hard? Yes. Is it necessary? Also yes. Not only are there tons of benefits (improved bone density and endorphins, anyone?), if you cut your calories too much by restricting your diet instead of relying on burning them to widen your deficit, you can do some permanent damage to your metabolism.
This “wonder diet” I found claims to help you lose 20 pounds in a month without exercise … all you have to do is cut your calories to 1,100 per day, take a bunch of vitamins and supplements, and drink enough water to turn anyone into a fish! Yikes. 1,100 calories per day isn’t enough for anyone and can be insanely dangerous unless there are medical reasons for it and there is supervision of a doctor and a dietitian. This is a great way to make sure you’re never able to lose weight normally again!
The bottom line:
Anything that sounds too good to be true is way too good to be true. Anything that is overly restrictive isn’t sustainable in the long run and can potentially be dangerous to your health. Losing weight uber fast isn’t a quick fix, and anything good is worth waiting and working for. When in doubt, talk to a registered dietitian about whatever diet you want to try or goals you want to achieve. 9 times out of 10, any diet can be tailored to work for you, but in a healthy way. Don’t go it alone; you could end up seriously hurting yourself or making things harder for yourself in the long run.
What crazy claims have you run across in the past? Comment below and let me know!