Debunking Fad Diets

by Mitch Davis

I mean, do I actually have to answer this one?  It’s 2022, I thought we all knew diets were a scam. Joking aside, there is a lot of information out there and it is very easy to fall for the BS.  So, let’s talk about how to protect yourself from spending time, money, and energy on marketing schemes, and laugh at your friends when they tell you that you should definitely try their new ridiculous weight loss diet. 

The diet industry is a 6-point-something million-dollar industry and the supplement industry is just as big of a money maker.  Right away we should be asking ourselves the important question of why the diet industry is making so much money.  Add on to that the question of why most Americans are still overweight, we can start to get really squinty eyes, theorizing maybe diets are actually a load of crap. 

No diet works.  Except the one that does.  What does this tell us?  It isn’t the diet itself that is causing the success, it is the ability for the human following that diet to stay consistent.  I’ve seen individuals have tremendous success from Paleo and Keto, Mediterranean diets, vegan, “juice detoxes”, and even intermittent fasting.  If all of these diets have been successful, does it mean they’re all the answer?  No.  It means the success stories come from the individual who found that particular diet to be the easiest to follow, the most enjoyable, and the one they understood. 

I don’t really believe there is a difference between a “fad” diet and just “a diet”.  In fact, we’re all on a diet, by literal definition.  A diet, being what you’re currently consuming.  But, capitalism (which is awesome, mind you), drove people to figure out how to make money off of the uninformed and told you that your weight gain is due to ________.  You then changed your lifestyle, habits, and routine around food and found success.  You attributed your success to whatever minor detail that specific diet told you to focus on, when in reality, there was a lot more at play. 

Here’s a great example.  Let’s say you were told that sugar is what is destroying your gains.  So, you eliminate all sugar from your diet (or what you claim is all sugar).  You then proceed to lose some weight and tell others that “all it took was no more sugar”.  Well, this is in fact only half true. The sugars you eliminated were found in donuts, muffins, bagels, and brownies that you often consumed.  Was it really eliminating just sugar, or was there something else at play?  You eliminated a ton of carbohydrates and unhealthy fats by avoiding those foods.  It wasn’t the sugar by itself, it was your change in behavior surrounding food.  We love associating massive changes with small changes, when in reality it is a bunch of really basic, but very significant changes that add up over time. 

Rule of thumb, if someone is telling you there is a “secret” to fat loss, they’re a charlatan.  If someone is telling you that you absolutely “must” do something, you got it, charlatan.  If someone is promoting their book or other idea that you must pay for, you’re paying for something you don’t need.  If someone tells you that you cannot lose weight because of your genes, hormones, gut biology, or anything else that sounds quackery, you 100% know, they’re a charlatan. 

Losing weight is difficult because it requires behavior change.  Dieting is hard because you make it hard.  Dieting, or better stated, eating healthy is very simple.  But we don’t like it.  Eat your veggies and fruits, consume lots of protein, eat healthy fats, and eat enough carbs so you’re not a big ol’ jerk. Everything else is just extra. 

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Mitchell Davis is the Director of Remote Coaching at Power Train Sports & Fitness.  He is a PhD candidate at Liberty University where he is pursuing his doctorate in Health & Exercise Science.  He has been a coach and educator for 13 years, serving in roles such as collegiate strength and conditioning coach, high school strength and conditioning coach, adjunct professor, personal trainer, and fitness consultant.  

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