Not All Diets Are Good | 2020's Most Dangerous Diet Advice
Dieting advice is a dime a dozen, and the hyper-connectivity of the internet has put the accumulating heap of misleading weight loss anecdotes on overdrive. It seems that in 2020 everyone has the latest, least inconvenient way to lose weight and is equally quick to provide it to you (often behind an annoying paywall or newsletter signup).
Having lost 95 pounds in the last few years, I've learned that there isn't a "best" way for someone to lose weight. The truth is we are all unique, and what works best for me will almost certainly not be what's best for you. That being said, having experienced the benefits of weight loss and a more healthy lifestyle, it's my mission to provide anyone looking for guidance with actionable advice that will point them in the right direction.
In reflecting on how I can do that, I've realized that it will be more helpful for me to share what I have realized is assuredly lousy advice that you should steer clear of. Here are the current trends in dieting that will set you up for failure.
Faster Is Better
Perhaps the biggest clickbait claim from those pedaling diet advice is that whatever they are selling will give you the results you want fast. Thirty days to shredded with a six-pack may sound great, but it's a dangerous way to look at weight loss and sets you up for disappointment. The truth is that we didn't gain the weight we are hoping to lose in a few weeks, so we won't lose it that quickly, either. Real results take time, and more importantly, to keep those results will require you to develop sustainable habits that continue beyond your dieting days. Rushing the process often means drastic action that is unsustainable and will lead you to break before you get where you want to be.1
"X" Is The Enemy
Most every diet pitched online today operates off of the idea that a particular food is what is making you overweight. Demonizing carbs, fat, and even protein is an excellent way to defer blame away from ourselves and move forward with the hope that our problems will be solved if we can avoid a particular food. This strategy may work in the short term, cutting out an entire food group like carbohydrates is likely to have you eating fewer calories than you otherwise would. But, is it sustainable? Unless you plan to avoid those food groups permanently, you will likely gain the weight you did lose back as soon as you introduce those foods back into your diet.2
More Gym Time = Better
If you ask any bodybuilder how they maintain washboard abs and a chiseled physique, current diet trends might have you believe that they would tell you it comes down to a brutal workout routine. While it is true that hitting the gym can help you burn additional calories, sweating like the school mascot on a hot summer day is not what is going to have you looking like a Greek statue. Abs are made in the kitchen, and accordingly, the calories you consume there will be what dictates the majority of your results. You can't out-train a bad diet, but you can lose fat without working out.3
Losing weight is one of the most challenging tests of discipline and patience I have experienced. The massive amount of wrong information out there makes this process harder; its difficult to know what to trust. The reality is that there are many strategies you can take to lose weight, none inherently better or worse than any other, so long as you aim to achieve a calorie deficit. The overarching goal with any diet should be to find a food system that allows you to eat enough food to feel full and still enjoy your favorites, all while maintaining the caloric deficit needed to lose weight. It may sound impossible, but by paying attention to what you are putting in your body more closely and adjusting your choices (even just a little!) to reflect your goals you will quickly learn how painless the process can be.
The biggest myth in dieting is that it has to be miserable in order to work. The reality is, if the strategy you choose makes you miserable, there’s no chance it will work. By being creative and identifying what specific food choices are important to you, you put yourself in a great position to find a strategy that will take you the distance. If you stay consistent and keep faith that it will get easier as you get better at it, I have no doubt you will succeed.
Best of luck and stick with it!