The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Why fad diets are appealing to so many people

Courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Many people have encountered a diet that promises instant weight loss at some point in their lives. It’s the kind of diet that says exercise is not necessary to lose weight, or offers a supplement that claims to work miracles. These are known as fad diets.

A fad diet often promises a quick and easy way to lose weight and is not typically backed by science. It may consist of supplements or special foods which promise to help a person slim down, and generally calls for a restriction of nutrients, such as sugars or carbohydrates. Fad diets also tend to minimize the importance of exercise when it comes to sustaining a drop in weight.

22.5 million Americans try fad diets every year, says the Boston Medical Center.

These diets range from carb-cutting ones such as Keto or Atkins, to ones that require more extreme commitments, such as the 5:2 diet. The 5:2 diet involves eating as you normally would for five days out of the week and fasting for the other two.

This diet doesn’t work because the rules are too restrictive for most people to follow long term, which results in quitting and regaining weight.

Researchers at UCLA found that 30-60% of people who tried fad diets regained the weight they lost, and many gained even more than their beginning weight.

“The problem with that is, you don’t gain it back in the same distribution that you lost it,” the Klotz Center’s registered dietician, Ellen Bauersfeld, said. “So if you lost fat, muscle and water, you basically just regain the fat and the water, and the muscle mass is gone.”

Gaining weight isn’t the only problem with this diet. Most fad diets ignore a person’s biological need for a variety of food, which usually involves cutting down on carbohydrates.

The primary role of having carbs in our diet is to provide energy for our bodies to function. If a person cuts them out of their diet completely, then their muscle cells and brain would lose energy. A person’s body can experience other unsettling side effects as a result of this diet as well.

According to Eating Well, this can lead to dizziness, weakness, and headaches.

Bauersfeld said that eating whole foods, which contain carbs, as well as the vitamins and minerals we need to survive, is a better dieting strategy than restricting carbs entirely.

“Mother nature does an amazing job of packaging her nutrients, all in these amazing whole foods,” she said.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that healthy diets, when paired with exercise, have the potential to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and countless other conditions, in addition to helping you achieve a healthy weight. According to Bauersfeld, the role that sleep plays in maintaining a healthy lifestyle is often overlooked. Sleep should also be a focus when trying to live a healthy lifestyle in addition to healthy eating habits.

CSUN’s dietician proposed a change all students should implement in their diets, one that seems intuitive but would go a long way in improving their eating habits.

“Every time you eat, eat a fruit or vegetable with your meal,” Bauersfeld said. “A modest increase in your overall fruit and vegetable intake is a great step to try to encourage students to eat better.”

Finding a diet that works and sticking to it takes time, patience, and hard work, but the results can make the journey worthwhile.

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