Diet trends are everywhere. People claim to Lose Weight by giving up carbs, feel healthier after cutting out sugar, or swear by juice cleanses. While some of these diets may help people lose weight, they are usually unhealthy in the long term.

What constitutes a fad diet?

Simply put, fad diets are diets that promote quick and easy weight-loss. Most Fad Diets share a few common themes: elimination of an entire food group and/or consuming a different food group in excess. Some fad diets may encourage people to buy pricey protein shakes, juices, or glorified granola bars.

Any diet plan that requires you to purchase specialty items is seeking to make money as opposed to help you lose weight. While some promise to have you shedding the pounds fast, rarely are they backed by scientific evidence. Often, these diets do result in weight-loss but most tend to be the result of water loss, not fat loss.

Fad diets promote weight-loss through restriction

Some of the most common fad diets involve severe food restriction. One example of this is the paleo diet which eliminates grains, starchy vegetables like potatoes, legumes, beans, dairy, and oils. By doing this, people are unable to gain the valuable nutrients contained in these foods. Although carbohydrates have a bad reputation, they are your body's number one fuel source and are necessary for almost every biological process that keeps your body running smoothly.

Potatoes are rich in iodine and vitamin C, while beans and legumes contain iron, protein, and are a significant source of fiber. This kind of dietary restriction can lead to severe malnutrition.

In addition to malnutrition, there are other serious consequences that can come about as a result of these fad diets. Severe food restriction can increase the likelihood of developing a chronic illness such as type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease, as you are not eating the nutrients that are necessary to prevent these diseases.

You may also become severely fatigued as a result of not consuming enough energy-rich foods. Another side effect of fad diets involves ketosis, a process where your body essentially goes into starvation mode because it is not being provided with enough energy.

The best way to achieve a healthy weight is through lifestyle changes, not fad diets

The key to losing weight and getting healthier is not through restriction, but by making lifestyle changes that you can live with long term. If you feel as though you are deprived of your favorite foods, you are going to end up caving in and consuming excess amounts of these foods. However, if you come to believe that you can eat that cupcake or those french fries anytime you want and do so guilt-free, you are not going to feel the need to eat them in excess.

When it comes to losing weight, slow and steady really does win the race. Aiming to lose more than a pound a week tends to be unrealistic and could ultimately make you fall back into the habit of dietary restriction.

It is important to continue to eat enough calories even as you are attempting to lose weight. Your body requires those calories to function properly and you want to be careful not to deprive your body of them.

Make sure to add physical activity to any weight-loss plan. Exercise is not only going to help you lose weight, but it also reduces your risk of chronic disease and promotes bone health.