I’m not a fan of fad diets. They’re usually tailor-made to lighten your wallet more than you frame. And some can come across as downright deceptive.
That’s the way the latest diet fad – the so-called “zero sugar” diet – comes across to me. Why? Because it’s clearly not zero sugar. And it’s being sold with promises that long experience says are highly unlikely.
Here are a few things you should consider before you buy into this deceptive diet.
A Healthy Idea Gone Bad
The diet itself isn’t as bad as some others. But the name is deceptive. And there are those unlikely promises. Especially because one is absolutely unhealthy.
To begin with, the diet isn’t zero sugar. If you follow it closely, you’ll avoid added sugars. Which is great, but you don’t need to buy a book to tell you that. I’ve been saying the same thing for years: Stay away from packaged and processed foods. That’s how to avoid added sugars.
It’s not exactly brain surgery… you’ve known this – for free – for years… and you certainly don’t need to spend your hard-earned money on a book that’s apparently not much more than an expansion on this simple advice.
If you focus on fresh, organic foods, you won’t get zero sugar. But you will get wholesome nutrition without the price of a book you probably don’t need.
But that’s not what bothers me the most. It’s that the “zero sugar” advocates push an absolutely unhealthy goal.
Lose Weight, Not Your Health
Let’s take a look at rapid weight loss, because the zero sugar people say you can lose 14 pounds in 14 days. Not only is that promise unlikely, it’s unhealthy.
If you do manage to lose significant weight rapidly on this plan, you’ll almost certainly be disappointed. That’s because rapid weight-loss plans usually rely on you losing water… that you’ll gain back in a fairly short time.
Maybe that’s why these diets don’t say, “Lose a pound of fat a day.”
To begin with, if you want to lose more than water, you have to burn off 3,500 calories more than you eat per pound. Which means you’ll either have to starve yourself or exercise for hours. Otherwise, what you lose won’t be a pound of actual body mass.
If you try to drop a pound a day by starving yourself, you won’t just drop fat. You’ll lose muscle mass, too. Your body will literally consume your muscles for the protein it needs. And that’s not healthy.
The zero sugar folks also seem to claim you can flatten your belly in those same 14 days on their plan. But that’s just not realistic for the average overweight American. And no diet alone can give you taut abs. That takes exercise. Avoiding added sugars just won’t get the job done.
Even worse, the “3,500-calorie rule” itself is deceptive.
Why Fad Diets Only Promise Rapid Weight Loss in the Short Term
Your body is a wonder. Without your even thinking about it, it begins to adapt to the demands you make on it.
So, for example, if you take up jogging, you may barely make it around the block on your first day. But if you repeat the demand, your body will build muscle and stamina. Jogging further and further gets easier. You may start by jogging a single block, but wind up running a marathon.
The same holds true when you try to lose weight. If you cut your food intake, your body will respond to the demand. You tell it to get by on fewer calories, and it does. By slowing your metabolism.
In other words, your body figures out how to do the same amount of work with less energy. And your weight loss slows down.
That’s why you may be able to lose weight quickly when you first start dieting. But the weight loss slows as you go along. Your body adapts to fewer calories.
Your body also adapts to exercise… by becoming more efficient. If you jog a mile every morning, you’ll burn more calories in the first weeks than you will at the same distance after six months.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t burn through fat or flatten your belly. It just means you probably shouldn’t rely on some fad diet to do it for you in no time flat. Smoke and mirrors rarely produce meaningful results.
Lose Fat Instead of Just Weight… and Do It the Safe Way
Sustainable weight loss only comes from developing good habits. And the zero sugar folks start out on the right track. Avoiding the added sugars of packaged and processed foods is a good place to start.
But it’s just a start. Calorie restriction alone costs you muscle mass. And you want to lose fat, not muscle. That’s because, if you cut calories, your body will look to replace any nutrients it misses.
That’s why you should replace the carbs you cut – including sugars – with a little extra protein. For most people, swapping out a serving of potatoes or rice for an n extra serving of lean protein daily will do the trick.
A serving of protein is just 3 ounces. So go from 3 servings a day to 4. The easiest way to do that is to eat an extra ounce of lean protein at every meal. This extra protein helps your body retain muscle mass during weight loss. You’ll drop more fat and less muscle.
Next, actively build muscle through physically activity. Regular activity puts stress on your muscles and triggers muscle building. That turns your body into a better calorie-burning machine. Muscle burns calories, even at rest. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn.
Finally, make that burn – if your doctor will allow – short periods of high-intensity exercise. Plus, ramp up your level of effort on a regular basis. By increasing the effort, your body can’t adapt to the exercise as well… and you’ll burn even more calories.
Fad diets may sound good. And they sometimes contain some solid advice. But if someone’s promising unbelievable results in just days, chances are you’ll be sorely disappointed.
About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.
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