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5 common diet fads that don’t help weight loss

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Have you ever tried a restrictive diet that worked for a liiitle while, but didn’t stick? Say, that 5-day juice cleanse. Fad diets like this may help you shed weight quickly, but they’re usually not sustainable and can actually make weight care more difficult. So while it may be tempting to try the latest eating plan that everyone is talking about, think twice. Here’s what you should know about some of the hot diets out there.   

 Paleo

This diet encourages you to eat how humans did in the Paleolithic era and Stone age over 2 million years ago. We’re talking about foods that were hunted and gathered, such as vegetables, fruits, lean meats, nuts, and seeds. These are all healthy food sources, but Paleo also deems whole grains and beans off limits. And some find that missing out on carbohydrates like these impacts energy levels. Bottom line: Research shows mixed evidence on whether the Paleo diet is effective for improving health or supporting weight care. Some studies show that it’s not any more or less effective than other diets, such as the Mediterranean diet or a diet for people with diabetes. A significant problem with a diet that cuts out entire food groups is that it’s hard to stick to long term. And no matter what approach to eating you try, if you can’t stick to it, it won’t work. 

Keto and carnivore

The ketogenic (or keto) diet is very low in carbohydrates, allows some protein, and promotes high fat intake. In fact, roughly 70 to 80 percent of total daily calories are supposed to come from fat. This eating style causes your body to use fatty acids and ketones for energy, rather than glucose—which has been shown to spur weight loss. However, there are concerns about going keto: First, it’s super restrictive and may not be sustainable. Plus, this diet excludes most whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and tends to be low in fiber (a nutrient known to support long-term weight management), as well as other important vitamins and minerals.

 The carnivore diet is another type of restrictive plan that only allows meat and animal products—and excludes all other foods. It tends to be high in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol and may lead to higher cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease. While many care providers and patients are enthusiastic about the keto diet for managing Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes, there isn’t enough solid evidence to show that it’s safe long-term. Like Paleo, ketogenic and carnivore diets are also inherently low in fiber and other important nutrients, which may cause deficiencies and up your odds of getting constipated. 

 

Vegetarian or vegan

Going 100 percent plant-based (strictly vegan) has been trending for a while. To be clear, this is not a fad diet, but we included it here because a lot of people jump on the vegan train in hopes of losing weight (versus doing it for animal welfare, sustainability, faith-based, or health reasons) and find it too restrictive to stick with. Vegan diets exclude all animal products—unlike vegetarian diets, which allow eggs and dairy but no meat. Yes, eating loads of plants is beneficial, but is veganism good for you? The short answer: It can be. However, it’s important to note that because vegan and vegetarian diets cut out certain food groups, you could wind up lacking certain essential nutrients. For example, dairy and animal protein sources provide vitamins B, D, E and selenium, which support muscle growth and recovery. If you often find yourself fatigued and hungry throughout the day, a lack of protein may be the offender. If you want to try one of these diets, it may be a good idea to work with a nutritionist—especially in the case of veganism.

 

Juice cleanses and fasts

This approach to weight loss—which has a lot of variations—is all about ditching solid food and just sipping fruit and vegetable juices. These cleanses can range anywhere from one to ten days, or sometimes even longer. You may be thinking that drinking fruits and veggies doesn’t seem like a bad thing. However, it can be extremely calorie-restrictive, and odds are you won’t get sufficient protein, fiber, or fat during a juice cleanse. And, as is true with other fad diets, you’re likely to regain the weight you lost. There are indeed very low-calorie diets that use shakes in place of solid food. It’s important to remember that shakes used in these diets are designed to provide enough nutrition on a daily basis, and that patients on these plans are monitored by physicians who understand obesity medicine. In other words—best not to try this on your own. 

Gluten-free

So what is gluten, exactly? It’s a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye—think bread, pasta, and many baked goods. A gluten-free diet is recommended for those with Celiac disease or people with intolerances to gluten. But it’s become a go-to even among those who don’t have issues with gluten as a way to lose weight by eliminating foods they might be tempted to overeat. Yet, studies show there’s no evidence that a gluten-free diet can cause weight loss; in fact, one small study showed people gained weight on it. Another thing: Cutting out grains if it’s not medically necessary can lead to nutritional deficiencies, including a lack of fiber. Opt for whole grains like oats, brown rice, and whole wheat. If you do think you’re sensitive to this protein, however, consult with your doctor.

 

Final thoughts 

Sustainable weight care involves maintaining consistent lifestyle changes, not following some short-term “fix” that may lack the nutrients your body needs for good health. Your diet should fit your day-to-day lifestyle; it’s the consistent daily habits that add up and will help you achieve your goals! 

Your best bet for long-term weight loss is focusing on healthy food choices, particularly whole foods, keeping an eye on portion sizes, and eating mindfully. (That’s the name of the game here at Found!) We also know that no two paths are the same. Let us help you discover yourpath to healthy weight care.

Found offers a science-backed approach to weight care that's based on your unique biology, psychology, lifestyle, and prescription medication needs. Members receiving medication plus behavior change support from Found lost at least 13% more weight, and in some cases up to 229% more, compared to people receiving the same medication in clinical studies. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.

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