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REVEALED: Why fad diets fail

Why do some diets work, and thfter some time just stop working? What is the perfect diet that actually works all the time? How can you lose weight and keep it off? These are some of the questions on everyone’s mind. So we shall try to unravel these mysteries.

brunch Updated: Jan 21, 2012 20:00 IST
Shikha Sharma
Shikha Sharma
Hindustan Times

Why do diets work and then stop working? Most fad diets are based on removing cereal from the meal plan and replacing it with a high source of protein or some fancy fruit, vegetable or beverage. The fancy element could be as exotic as wine and cheese or a fruit like pineapple or a single element like bacon. When you are attracted to such a diet, you follow it strictly for a week and notice the weight loss. But as the weight loss tapers off, so does your enthusiasm.

Why do people want to follow fad diets? There are three factors involved. One is the hidden belief that this might be the miracle quick fix! People love miracles, especially if they can quickly fix a weight problem without having to change any habits.

The second factor is the fact that fad diets provide novelty. A diet equals deprivation, so a fad diet holds the magic of novelty and a quick fix. But alas, the affair with fad diets is short-lived.


The third factor is the belief that you can get results quickly with a fad diet. We lack the patience to get slim. A fad diet holds the (mistaken) apparition or dream of quick results.

Why do people regain all the weight they lost? Simply, it is because permanent weight loss needs habits to be changed. Not diets. Most people who go on a diet lose some weight, feel happy about it, get lax, return to their old habits and put on weight again.

Most people avoid changing habits because they think it is a tedious process. But to put things in perspective, if you count the number of times you have gone on a diet (say you lost 10 kilos four times over) and multiply the time taken to achieve that (six months is the average time multiplied by four = 24 months or two years), then you can see that fad diets are not quick at all.

Like the proverbial hare and turtle race, a fad diet is like the hare that keeps running the race every year, while the turtle enters the race once and wins it forever.

From HT Brunch, January 22

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First Published: Jan 21, 2012 11:48 IST