By Kayleigh Caito

Fad diets are very popular diets that promote quick weight loss. They can be very restrictive in caloric intake or even restrict whole food groups (ie. carbohydrates). When people initially begin a fad diet they will see very rapid weight loss. That may sound like a good thing… but is it? The short answer is no, and for several reasons.

When calories or certain macronutrients are very restricted the body goes into starvation mode. Metabolism slows down significantly to store energy because your body does not know if or when you will be getting your next meal. This means when you do eat, the body is not as efficient at using the calories as energy because it is trying to store them for later. This can cause you to feel weak, tired, and irritable during these diets. Also, when calories are reentered in the diet after the metabolism has slowed, the body will naturally gain the weight back. Often times, people will see extra weight gain if they go back to their previous eating habits! This is called “yo-yo dieting” because the body overcompensates when calories are re-added to makeup for the starvation that was happening before.

It is recommended to lose 1-2 pounds per week. “Kayleigh… did you type that right?” Yes! That is correct! It is important to know that this 1-2 pounds can be subjective. If you are a 160 pound woman trying to lose that last 15 pounds then this is a healthy goal. But, if you are a 400 pound man trying to lose 200 pounds, you may see a larger weight loss in the beginning. The main takeaway from this is very rapid weight loss can cause us not only to lose fat but to also lose muscle. Loss of muscle is not what we want, especially in the CrossFit world! This can also go back to the “starvation mode” idea. When the body is restricted of calories, it will begin to use muscle protein as a source of energy. Sounds dangerous, right?!

The truth is that there is no “quick fix” or “special diet” to lose or gain weight overnight. And… well, frankly… there shouldn’t be! If we want to be healthy, we have to lead a healthy lifestyle. This means eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.

So, which fad diets have you tried? I have personally tried the Paleo, Zone, and Paleo-Zone diets simultaneously. One thing I realized very quickly about the diets is that they were not sustainable  I could do each fad for about a month, and then I fell off the wagon. And HARD. I would go for the pint of ice cream, half a dozen cookies, Pop Tarts, and whatever I could get my hands on!  Not to mention I felt TERRIBLE during the diets. I was constantly tired, angry, and couldn’t perform in my workouts. I also did not see any weight changes. Through my personal experience, I have realized that sticking with a general healthy diet is the best way to control my weight, whether that be losing, maintaining, or even gaining.

For my next post, I would like to answer any questions you may have on certain diets.  Please leave a comment on certain diets that you have tried, would like more info on, or any specific questions about a certain diet!

Not a fad: Check out Kayleigh’s Sweet Potato Gnocchi recipe. YUM!