Fad diets. This time of year they are not difficult to find, as people looking to make a buck appeal to motivated consumers. We are inundated by influences and information about losing weight, from social media and television, to advice we hear from good-meaning friends and family. The confusing thing is, most fad diets will produce weight loss, temporarily at least. But that temporary part is a big problem. How many of us want to spend our valuable time and effort on temporary solutions? But in addition to being short lived, sometimes the success of fad diets come at the expense of our health.

The human body burns excess weight in stages, so trying to override that normal process can lead to some uncomfortable side effects. Not only can it be discouraging if you aren’t seeing the results promised, but it can also result in dehydration, fatigue, weight rebound, nutritional deficiencies, and digestive problems. Engaging in a plan that comes with these symptoms, when not being overseen by a physician, is a problem.

Let’s look at some common characteristics of fad diets, so you can feel confident identifying one in the future. They make promises for dramatic, seemingly unattainable weight loss, usually in a short period of time. They make claims that sound too good to be true, such as promising weight loss without changing eating habits, or engaging in exercise. Or worse yet, their advice is coming from “experts” with no formal training or credentials. Any, or all of these claims should raise a red flag when assessing the safety or effectiveness of a weight loss plan.

The cornerstones of a successful program should include a nutrition plan that is sustainable in the long term, preferably supported by the assistance of nutrition professionals. It should also encourage regular physical activity, and provide resources to help make it happen. And, in order to assist clients with making these changes stick, it should ideally provide support in the area of behavior modification. To view classes in these areas, you can visit our video library (here), and filter by nutrition, exercise, and behavior modification. And as always, make sure to seek the guidance and approval of a physician when looking to start a new program that may impact your health.