New Year’s Resolutions: The Dangers of Fad Dieting

Most people ring in the New Year determined to jumpstart their health. The four most common “New Year’s [health] Resolutions” are: Lose Weight, Drink Less, Quit Smoking and Exercise More. Most studies agree that about ¼ of US adults ditch their resolution by the second week of January, nearly 70% abandon it altogether by February, and less than 5% stick with it beyond the first half of the year.

Why? Typically, because the cold-turkey, 180-degree, overnight change is, understandably, not sustainable. When it comes to Weight Loss specifically, fad diets don’t work and the “Eat Less, Move More” advice is outdated. Most trends quickly increase cravings, cause frustration, and if weight is lost, it is rapidly regained.

So, what is a Fad diet? We’ve all seen a plethora of the too-good-to-be-true ads claiming quick and easy body solutions:  Weight loss promises of “10 pounds in 10 days”, “diet without effort”, ‘30-days to your best self”. The latest bootcamp “best body ever” billboard featuring the 6-pack abs and hourglass figures seems to be glaring right at you. These ads really do get us falsely thinking: if it worked for THAT TV celebrity, it HAS to work for me!

Most trendy dieting plans don’t bear in mind the physiology of appetite and weight regulation, nor take into account the concept of metabolic adaptation. They aren’t supported by research, and too often a time, are detrimental to health, provide little to no sustainable weight change, and feed into the never-ending cycle of yo-yo dieting. Without realizing it, this can increase weight over time leading to even more frustration for any individual trying to “stick with it”.

Ultimately, that false notion of self-blame becomes established: “I’ve been dieting my whole life and I just keep getting heavier.” “What is wrong with me?” …..“My metabolism must be slow”.

Overweight and obesity are complex metabolic neuroendocrine disorders of excessive and dysfunctional adipose tissue (our body’s fat). What a mouthful! no pun intended. There are many factors in play when it comes to body weight, such as: genetics, epigenetics, peripheral and central hormones, the obesogenic environment including ultra-processed foods, stress, sedentary lifestyle and so forth. The disease of excess weight is not about willpower and certainly not resolved by applying a mathematical equation of calories in versus calories out. Body weight is regulated. Think of it like a thermostat that has a pre-set temperature. Our body has a learned pattern that always goes back to the pre-set weight. The minute you try to change weight, the body fights back to compensation by burning less calories, turning on hunger hormones and turning off signals of satiety.

Dieting has become a 72-billion-dollar industry and unfortunately, the most readily available resource when someone is looking to shed pounds. Social media, pharmacies, even grocery stores are inundated with the latest fad dieting news and tools. The problem is that fad diets aren’t sustainable, balanced, nor lead to permanent weight changes. Typically, they entail restrictive patterns for short periods that share one common trend: they propose a temporary solution. They don’t include real, long-term changes to ensure weight is kept off. So, when the “diet” ends, the weight comes back quickly. Importantly, fad diets can be harmful to our physical and mental health.

Cutting down calories significantly may lead to quick weight loss in the short term, but will also send your body into survival mode – hanging on to extra fat for fuel and slowing down calorie-burning to make up for missed calories.  Restriction without proper nutrition can cause unwanted muscle loss which is counterproductive because muscle helps burn calories. This form of deprivation can activate cravings, trigger overindulgence and binge eating behavior, which quickly results in weight re-gain.

If looking to jumpstart your health, here are steps you can start right away:

  1. Focus on whole, real foods. Avoid processed and ultra-processed foods by eliminating fast-foods, sugary foods and sugar containing beverages. Pick an orange over orange juice.
  1. Make sleep a priority. The recommended daily amount of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours. Most get 5. Sleep deprivation leads to hormonal changes involved with weight change. Plus, when you’re tired, you are less likely to stick with healthy food choices and cravings tend to peak.
  1. Reduce Stress:  Start by taking 5 minutes every day for yourself. Shut off the screen, this includes your phone. Focus on your breath. Close your eyes. Start with 5 minutes daily and build from there at 1-2minute increments every 2 weeks.
  1. Get moving. Take a stroll on our beautiful beaches, ride a bike, or walk the golf course. Dance to your favorite tune in your underwear! Move in ways that make you happy.
  1. Have patience. Grant yourself grace. Be kind with yourself. Focus on the journey. Don’t crash course your way to health

Quick weight loss without medical supervision can be dangerous. Yo-yo dieting can take a toll on mental health by increasing stress, anxiety, and guilt over food choices. Slashing calories and cutting out entire food groups can put you at risk for nutrient deficiencies and changes in your digestive, muscle and bone health. The thought of dropping 10 pounds in 10 days is alluring because we want quick results for our efforts. The next time you see a weight loss ad, think twice before jumping in.

The good news is that successful long-term and sustainable total body weight reduction is possible, under guidance of a medical trained specialist that can individualize treatment using a stepwise additive approach of therapy based on physiology, not “latest trend-ology”.

Here’s to a New Year’s resolution focused on long-term sustainable weight reduction that helps you reach your metabolic health goals. This New Year, allow yourself to ditch the dieting mentality, embrace the understanding of metabolic adaptation and that medically supervised, steady, and sustainable weight reduction is achievable. Schedule your Initial Health Assessment at Evexia Medical to learn about how you can find optimal health based on your individual needs. Find more info about our practice and board-certified specialists @ or by calling 561-621-1096.

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