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How to spot a bad diet

Updated on March 9, 2007

There are so many diets out there right now how can you can whether they will work or not? Are these new fad diets truly able to help you, and are they just trying to get rich off of America's desire to get into shape quickly?

How to spot a BAD diet:

Recently, the American Heart Association issued new guidelines designed to help the public spot - and stay clear of - a fad diet. According to the AHA guidelines, be on the look out for the following:

  • Diets that promise their products will burn fat- No food or special supplement will burn fat. The only way to lose weight is to burn calories by decreasing the amount of food you eat and by being more physically active.

  • Diets based on consuming only one food or a limited number of foods- Eating unlimited amounts of cabbage or grapefruit is not only nutritionally unbalanced but is too boring to be sustained over time.

  • Diets that require rigid menus- Many diets set out a very limited selection of foods to be eaten at a specific time and day, exactly as written. Often these limited diets don't address the widely varied taste preferences of our diverse American population.

  • Specific food combinations- There is no scientific evidence that eating foods in certain sequences or combinations has any medical benefit.

  • Promises of a rapid weight loss of more than 2 pounds a week- Medical experts have determined that a steady weight loss of up to 2 pounds a week is the safest way to shed excess pounds and leads to weight loss that can be sustained over time.

  • No increased physical activity- Not only does more physical activity burn more calories but also regular activity is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health and well-being.

Also, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), be wary of weight loss programs that use these phrases to describe themselves:

  • Breakthrough
  • Easy
  • Effortless
  • Fast
  • Guaranteed
  • Magical
  • Quick
  • Discovery
  • Immediate
  • Miracle Cure

How to spot a GOOD diet:

Instead of choosing a method that you think will take the weight off fastest, new guidelines published by the American Heart Association recommend a comprehensive weight loss program that is sustainable - meaning the method must go beyond losing the excess weight and address ways to keep it off.

What makes a weight loss program "comprehensive"? According to weight loss specialists, the program has to be realistic, practical and livable. This means finding a comprehensive weight loss program that:

  • Encourages sensible, balanced eating.
  • Includes foods from all food groups.
  • Meets the current scientific recommendations for nutritional completeness and reduced disease risk.
  • Encourages physical activity on a regular basis.
  • Recognizes the importance of a supportive atmosphere, which can entail providing support groups to teach the habits, routines and approaches that promote long-term weight loss.

Remember fitness comes from overall lifestyle, if your really want to make a change in your body shape and in you health you need to evaluate your life and make some changes. Simply eating a different sort of food for a couple of weeks or a quick 10 minute workout once a week isn't going to cut it. Lifestyle change is difficult and takes motivation and courage, so avoid any diet who tells you it doesn't. You need to change your life to include healthier food and more exercise, that is the bottom line. So find diets that support that and encourage you every step of the way!

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