Since I recently mentioned 8 safe weight loss shortcuts that work, it’s time to look at the other side – the worst diet tips ever! I’ll skip mentioning the dangers of diet pills here, since that’s been covered recently too. However, the list below contains common diet advice that’s misguided.
While many of these choices, such as going vegetarian, may be fine for other reasons, they are neither necessary nor advisable solely for weight loss. Permanent weight loss pretty much always involves significant lifestyle change. Adding additional, uncomfortable changes which aren’t really necessary isn’t a winning way to lose weight long term.
So here, in no particular order, are the worst diet tips ever… If I missed any, feel free to add them in the comments!
Don’t Eat Fruit
Yes, fruit contains sugar, but it also contains healthy nutrients and fiber. While I do recommend becoming somewhat obsessive about avoiding sugar, especially when it is paired with processed carbs, avoiding fruit completely is not healthy diet strategy.
Almost every “fat free” product offered contains added sugar to make up for the flavor loss when fat was removed. I don’t advocate avoiding all fats. Your body needs healthy fats. Read the labels, avoid excess sugars and bad fats.
Choose Sugar Free
Most sugar-free products contain artificial sweeteners which have been proven to be problematical in weight loss. Sometimes, sugar-free means more fat or more salt. Again, read the labels and choose foods with good nutritional value. Most fat-free or sugar-free products are full of artificial ingredients to make them taste like sugar and fat. I believe that avoiding long lists of chemicals in the ingredients of your food is a wise choice.
Cut out All Carbs
Your body is meant to function on a balanced diet containing proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Eliminating all carbs over a long period isn’t good for you, nor is it very practical. Instead, learn more about slow carbs, which are carbs which contain high fiber while being low on the glycemic index. They are digested slowly, so your body doesn’t experience a sugar rush.
Eliminate All Sugar
Avoiding all sugars isn’t necessary, nor is it realistic. If you can’t stand a summer without ice cream, compromise and try a homemade frozen fruit sorbet. It’s a healthier choice, and just as much of a cool treat on a hot day. If eliminating chocolate is going to drive you off your diet, don’t eliminate it. Instead, enjoy small quantities of dark chocolate and take satisfaction in the fact that it’s actually good for you.
You’re probably going to have to reduce sugar if you eat like the average North American, but getting obsessive about eliminating every trace is an invitation to stress and feeling deprived. Neither of those is supportive of losing weight.
There’s nothing wrong with going vegan as a lifestyle choice, but making that choice as a weight loss diet plan is usually misguided. You would be eliminating significant sources of micronutrients, and you would need to learn to compensate for those to stay healthy.
If weight loss is your goal, going to extremes is generally not a successful strategy. Yes, you need to incorporate lifestyle change for lasting weight loss, but there is no weight loss benefit to entirely eliminating any one nutritional source unless there is a medical reason to do so.
This one is tricky. Most people (without a related medical condition) will not reach their weight goals more easily because they go gluten free, UNLESS that helps them cut highly-processed carbs. For most people, going gluten-free doesn’t help, since they buy “gluten-free” replacement products for pastas, breads, cookies, crackers and breading that are full of high-glycemic (easily turned to sugar during digestion) starches.
Certainly in some cases, there are related medical reasons to try going GF. For example, I know one woman who had GERD (reflux), inflammation and thyroid issues that were improved by going gluten-free. She also used going gluten-free to reduce arguments over not eating the food her mother cooked. She couldn’t get her mother to stop serving bad fats, pasta and processed carbs with every meal, but going gluten-free gave her justification to cook her own (healthier) meals separately, and she lost over 30 pounds.
Fast to Lose Weight
Extended fasting puts your body into a metabolic state where it does everything possible to preserve itself. In other words, it slows down all metabolic processes. While you may lose weight, in the long term you’ll gain it back and more. This is what happens to most people who try extreme dieting, and explains the yo-yo diet effect. If your body thinks it’s starving, it will do whatever it can to preserve itself, and that’s not a helpful (or comfortable) way to try to live.
Do a Juice Fast to Lose Weight
A juice fast can be challenging for your body since it is suddenly deprived of fiber, and many nutrients which are part of your normal digestive process. This can be stressful, uncomfortable, and make you unhappy. Juice fasting is not sustainable over a long-term (at least not in a healthy way) as you would lose muscle due to lack of protein, and that’s never a good thing when trying to lose weight.
In general, any “quick fix” weight loss trick isn’t going to be sustainable in the long term, and often leads to rebound weight gain.