Menu Planning & Recipes

Can You Spot a Sham Diet?

While a sham diet will likely deliver on some early weight loss it won’t be because of the reasons claimed in the diets’ marketing literature or book cover. The real disservice to you however is the misinformation that you’re fed that actually ends up being an impediment to any long-term success with weight control.

Spotting sham diets can save you money on the books, supplements, and programs that deliver them, as well as not waste your time and energy going in the wrong direction. And don't forget your health... sham diets frequently ban whole categories of foods that in fact are essential to good health.

So what exactly will tip you off to a sham weight loss diet? You’ll find that they all consist of the following four key components:

1. The “magical breakthrough” is to impress you with the notion that this “new expert/guru” has figured out what no-one has been able to—so you’ll buy their book, or sign up for their program (after all, they do know you are looking for a magic bullet).

2. A secret combination of eating the "right things, in the right way” (and the flip side of this—the notion that “calories don’t count”). The purpose of this “secret formula” is to convince you to follow a eating plan of what usually amounts to 1,200- to 1,400-calories, that will produce significant early weight loss. However, the weight loss is due to simple calorie restriction (and the extra water losses associated with calorie restriction), not to the magic of “eating the right things in the right way.”

3. Leveraging the illusion of quick early weight loss—to keep you hooked in. After all, they said the scale would drop, and voila!—boy did it! The problem is your early weight loss is ALWAYS more water than body fat. They just don’t bother mentioning that it’s mostly water—in fact they’re counting on you not knowing that.

4. The monotony of restricted eating: The short list of allowed foods, and all the rules around what to eat and when ensures you will soon lose your appetite for the foods that are allowed. That fact, in turn, guarantees that your calorie intake stays low basically fooling you into doing what you would likely otherwise balk at.

I’ve specifically used the word “sham” to point out that the reasons FAD diets work are very different than what each fad diet claims. Now I have a question for you. Can you find a single fad diet out there that doesn’t fit the above criteria? If you actually look and listen carefully, no, you’ll find the pattern in each and every one.

Look, if you want success with your weight and health then you need to learn how to eat in a healthy way and in healthy amounts. My best advise is to start where you are at, and look for "easy changes" to improve the quality of your diet. Forget "going-on-a-diet," instead approach it as a lifestyle change.

If you choose to follow the (you name it) fad diet you will lose weight (due the low-calorie eating plans you’ll be following and nothing else). You will surely also drive yourself crazy trying to jump through all the silly magic hoops.

So why not save your money and your sanity? The reality is that there is no magic. All there is is eating less and moving more, and you are the best author of how to do that in your life!