“I’m on this new diet. Well, I don’t eat anything, and when I feel like I’m about to faint, I eat a cube of cheese.”
– Emily, The Devil Wears Prada
Below we have brought together some of the “quick weight loss tips” that you should definitely not follow!
Unless you have a food allergy, as confirmed by actual testing, there is no reason to completely ban any type of food from your diet. Having a little bit of something you love on occasion that you perceive to be unhealthy is far better than deprivation.
Whilst this may sound like the insane rantings of a hedonist, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, this theory of enjoying your food has become increasingly supported through various studies and anecdotal evidence.
When people give up a food group, whether it’s fat, carbohydrates or a food within those groups like saying no to chocolate, bread, or gluten, for example, people tend to want what they’ve eliminated from their diet even more.
Call it “the forbidden fruit syndrome”, if you will. People attempting this kind of diet tend to either survive for a few days, weeks, or months, but then dramatically fall off the wagon with little to no ability to control themselves. Some believe that denying yourself a food group will lead to binge eating cycles, which can cause more harm in the end and more weight gain than before they started dieting.
These types of diets only work to aid weight loss if you reduce your overall calorie intake. For example, a gluten-free diet can aid in weight loss if you introduce more vegetables and low calorie foods to replace bread, pasta and other gluten-containing foods from your diet. It is not going to aid weight loss if you just replace your usual loaf of bread with an expensive gluten-free loaf of bread, and continue to eat just as much food as before.
Fat-Free Diets are possibly the biggest culprit here. Some fat-free yoghurts can contain a similar number of calories to their full fat counterparts, especially if they are flavoured yoghurts. This is because the manufacturers add extra sugar to the yoghurt to make up for the creaminess that has been removed when taking out the fat. By focusing purely on the fat content of foods, rather than on the entire meal being well-balanced, dieters end up losing very little weight.
We have reviewed numerous different products and meal replacement programs over the years; Although the exact nutritional composition varies, they are all broadly similar. Consumers replace most of their meals with a shake, mixed with milk or water in the more extreme programs. These shakes can often be high in sugar and low in fiber, and plans often encourage consumers to consume under 800 calories a day!
Because chewing is a large part of the psychological process of feeling satiated after a meal, consuming only a glass of milkshake is not physically satisfying. There are often complaints about extreme hunger, negative side effects, and that many of these products taste unpleasant or merely tolerable. Whilst some brands offer a range of flavours and are designed in a way that consumers can try an array of options, many companies only offer a few standard flavors, leaving consumers stuck with repetitive, boring, and unsatisfying shakes.
Studies have shown that people who follow liquid-focused weight loss plans are more likely to exhibit signs of disordered eating habits, such as binge eating. Women who were assigned a liquid meal replacement diet binge ate significantly more during their diet than other groups who had been assigned other weight loss strategies [Source].
Weight gain typically follows a very low calorie meal replacement diet [Source].
Sometimes taking on a new diet plan can feel intimidating, especially if it features a lot of new foods that you haven’t tried before, and new recipes that need to be cooked. Gimmicky fad diets often pop up, stating how easy it is to follow their diet and lose weight. Unfortunately, this often never works. Dieters are likely to lose weight very quickly, but they will regain it very quickly after they quit the fad diet. Because the diets are so restricted and gimmicky, they are very difficult to follow for more than a few days at a time.
A few examples include:
The Cabbage Soup Diet: Incredibly popular in the 1980s, this diet primarily consists of cabbage soup supplemented with some extra vegetables. Causes extreme flatulence and bloating.
The Baby Food Diet: Some baby food jars contain as little as 20 calories. Followers of the baby food diet replace two meals and snacks with up to 14 jars of baby food per day, spaced an hour apart each. Dinner is a “grown-up” meal. Bloggers and journalists who have followed the diet struggled to follow it for even an entire week, due to hunger, boredom, and issues with both the taste and texture of the baby foods.
Steak and Eggs Diet: This high protein, high fat diet is incredibly restrictive, with no vegetables at all for five out of each six-day cycle. Butter is allowed, and encouraged! Fans report quick weight loss, but bad breath and constipation are incredibly common. This diet is not suitable for more than a few days at a time!
These types of diets can give quick weight loss results, because of how little you are eating. However, once you stop following the diet, weight gain is inevitable. These diets can lead to yo-yo dieting, loss of muscle mass, and a decreased metabolic rate.
Mono-eating is a diet where you only eat one kind of food for the period in which you are dieting. This principle has been incorporated into numerous fad diets that has gone viral over the past few years. Some common mono-eating recommendations are potatoes, bananas, fruit, juices, raw vegetables, and eggs.
So why do people recommend mono-eating? It’s easy to follow and has been claimed to reduce junk food cravings. There is also the theory that consumers are less excited about eating, especially when you have eaten only eggs for the past two days, leading to reduced caloric intake.
Mono-eating is obviously not sustainable, far from a nutritionally complete diet! Anyone whose tried to follow a mono-eating pattern for more than a few days may develop nutritional deficiencies. If your food of choice is low in fibre, constipation is to be expected.
If you take a look at various celebrities and social influencers on Instagram, it is almost impossible to miss the sponsored posts where they recommend some kind of cleansing tea to their fans. Once in a while, these teas contain fat burning ingredients that can help increase the body’s metabolic rate which aids in weight loss, but these products are definitely not a weight loss solution.
Most of the detox teas that are said to aid in weight loss are typically full of laxative and diuretic agents. Any weight loss that may occur while using these products is due to increased bowel movements and a loss of water weight. You will not lose fat mass by drinking these products.
Some people think that taking a laxative will speed up the digestion process. Unfortunately, this is not the case; Food is absorbed into the body in the small intestines, but laxatives typically act upon the large intestine and the colon.
Logically, replacing a glass of soda with a diet soda is a good way to significantly decrease your caloric intake and lose weight quickly. Unfortunately, just like everything else on this list, it is not as simple as that.
One study found that people who drink diet sodas actually snack more on unhealthier foods than if they were to be drinking a regular can of soda [Source]. The researcher behind this study is Dr. An, who theorised that because consumers are compensating for their “good behaviour” of drinking diet drinks they can now snack intake the extra calories from unhealthy snacks.
In a press release, he stated, “It may be that people who consume diet beverages feel justified in eating more, so they reach for a muffin or a bag of chips… Or perhaps, in order to feel satisfied, they feel compelled to eat more of these high-calorie foods” [Source].
Other theories have also been proposed. Artificial sweeteners are typically sweeter than sugar, but may not provide the same satisfaction of actual sugar actual sugar. This could artificially affect the consumer’s perception of sweetness, leading to them consuming more sugar in their diet through other types of food choices.
The most recent meta-study into the effects of artificial sweeteners, which looked at the results from numerous studies, concluded that there is no evidence that artificial sweeteners help in managing weight [Source].
Obviously, reducing your intake of high-sugar beverages is going to aid weight loss, but studies suggest that replacing them with unsweetened drinks is going to be the best option for your health and weight. Try green tea with fruit flavourings, black coffee or just plain water!