May 12, 2017

Fad diets okay?

Why many fad diets may not be that bad?


You've heard about

-Grapefruit diets
-Cabbage soup diets
-Very low calorie "medically" supervised" diets
-Various meal replacement shakes based diets
-Potato hacks *
-etc, etc

They are typically ridiculed and or warned to be ineffective or outright dangerous.

Admittedly, this is not meant to be a blanket endorsement of all as some may well be dangerous especially if used as an exclusive and long term strategy.

I personally have been very critical of these in the past but find myself now taking another look.

Hopefully not oversimplifying too much but two main criticisms are

1. Lack of variety or calories too low will lead to nutritional deficiencies and health issues.
2. Any temporary successes will be more than offset once the individual goes back to regular over eating of sub optimal diet and gains all fat back and then some.

To the first point, I would counter that our bodies are very adaptable and proper nutrition may not necessitate having all needed nutrients at every meal, every day or even every week. To this, I would refer to evidence showing people fasting intermittently or for extended periods who have been shown to derive many health benefits and higher energy as a result. (Google autophagy as just one example)

If eating nothing for several days doesn't cause instant malnutrition than I highly doubt eating nothing but cabbage soup or potatoes or seriously cutting calories, would either.

To the second point, about gaining it all back when you go back to bad habits, part of my answer is "Duh!"

Kidding aside, I now think I was missing the obvious which is that the problem is not the so called "fad" but the terrible habits before and after the fad.

If you spend all your time driving over nails and then repair flat tires only to go back to nail ridden road...

... of course if you spend all your time repairing, you won't ever get anywhere either.

In other words, I now give consideration to the idea of many of these as "hacks" or "resets" that can obviously not work unless they are part of a holistic overall strategy that includes proper choices in exercise (strength training) and nutrition.

Now, one could argue and I would concede, that if you're already making those good choices, why would you need a reset?

Well, other than the mounting evidence of the benefits of fasting (which I think many of these mimic), even health conscious individuals may find it difficult to make good choices more than 70-80% of the time. (If you get to 70-80% adherence, you will be way ahead of majority of folks). And, quality of life considerations may make life boring to go beyond that which is why, in my opinion, long term adherence is extremely rare. Moderation in all things, even moderation itself.

So consider:

-the holidays
-special family events such as weddings
-cruises (personal weak area)
-indulging in certain guilty pleasures

The "hacks" and the "resets" can help with a kickstart and motivation, in my opinion and are not THE solution but I believe can be part of the toolbox that encompasses an overall healthy lifestyle.

Thanks for reading.

*recommend book "Potato Hack".

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