Many people use the term “fad” to deride what they consider is a poor weight loss diet. These are diets that are without proper scientific basis. Most people think that they can go on fad diets and lose weight. They refuse to accept the fact that diets simply do not work.
Some fad diets are based on supplements that are claimed to have phenomenal weight loss capabilities. The acai berry diet is one such fad diet. Others simply need a drastic reduction of food intake. The cabbage soup diet is an example of this. Exercise is seldom an option. Most people looking for a quick fix don’t realize that fad diets dont work.
What Research Says about Popular Diets
A study was published in the 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. It compared how people lost weight when on the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers and Zone Diets.
The researchers concluded that there was only a modest weight loss for each popular diet. The participants loss an average of 2 – 3 kgs after a year. Why would someone want to spend a whole year of their lives on a diet and only get 2-3kgs of weight loss to show for at the end of a year. This is like digging a hole in the ground with a fork. The results show that diets dont work for the simple reason that it only attacks weight loss from the diet angle.
These programs stress food manipulation and not exercise as the means to lose weight. Dieting by reducing food intake without exercise works for a while until the body realizes that it is starving. This is when it initiates the starvation response.
Why Diets Dont Work
To understand why diets dont work, we need to look at the findings of a very interesting study that was published in Lancet in 1969. Researchers analyzed the effects of calorie restriction on energy expenditure in obese patients. Look at the diagrams on the left to see what the researchers did.
In essence, they reduced the caloric consumption from 3500 cal to 450 cal for up to a month. Anyone going on a diet of this sort would expect to lose a lot of weight. Believe it or not, there are some commercially available weight loss programs that promote this and countless people get duped into it.
In the first chart, you will see that the real weight loss is not as what was expected by the researchers. The weight should theoretically continue to drop. But the rate at which the participants lost weight reduced over time and finally plateaued. This is the plateau that most people experience when trying to lose weight.
The reason for this is visible in the 2nd chart where the oxygen consumption reduced by almost 45% in the same period. Oxygen consumption is an indicator of the metabolic rate. The main reason that diets dont work is because of the effect these diets have on the metabolic rate.
When food was drastically reduced, the body very cleverly, reduced energy expenditure.
It’s similar to what would happen if you suddenly got a 45% pay cut. You would find it hard in the beginning but eventually you will adapt to this new pay. You will cut down on consumption to match your new income.
The body will do the same. It will cut its energy use to match the food consumed. This was nature’s way of ensuring that our prehistoric ancestors did not perish in times of famine.
So the sooner you accept that starving and dieting is a losing battle, the better off you would be.
Weight loss has to be holistic. Ensure that your weight loss is effective. This includes a sensible clean diet with exercise. Every smart person thinks that he or she is different. Diets simply do not work. It’s futile and research has even proven it to be so.