Almost everyone has fallen victim to one fad diet or another. These popular diet crazes advertise everything we want out of a nutrition plan: filling meals, satisfying flavors, and less “bad stuff” that prevents us from losing weight, as well as sufficient nutrients and energy to keep our bodies going strong.

Their gimmicks are catchy and intriguing — why wouldn’t eating like a cave person keep me trim? — which draws us in to purchase books and months’ worth of meals. Then, after a week or two with absolutely no positive change in energy level or waist measurement, we recognize the plan for what it was: a scam. Lather, rinse, and repeat this process at least twice a year for each new fad that comes around the fitness scene, and you have a recipe for weight gain instead of loss.

Here’s why you simply can’t trust fad diets and diet foods, and what you should do instead to get and stay fit.

They’re in It for the Money

There’s no denying that there is money to be had in weight loss. More than 60 percent of Americans over 20 years are actively trying to lose weight, and these 190 million Americans are looking for any help they can get to achieve their goals. The weight loss industry has recently been valued at higher than $20 billion, which includes diet books, pills, foods, and surgeries. To get in on that impressive sum, savvy entrepreneurs are willing to sell snake oil to eager and unquestioning dieters. The truth is that the weight loss industry is healthy even as it makes sure you and legions of dieters aren’t.

They Cut Out Vital Nutrients

The most popular diets are those that restrict dieters from a major food group: fats, carbs, sugars, etc. These diets do succeed in helping people drop pounds — but at a significant cost. Those who study advanced nutrition recognize that the reason these food groups encourage weight gain is because the body needs them in excess to function properly.

If one of these crucial nutrients is cut completely from a person’s diet, that person will need to compensate by eating even more of other groups, and even then this type of eating cannot last for more than a few weeks without serious health complications.

Starvation diets are even worse. These are diet plans that restrict calories, plain and simple, which means the body must pull energy out of its fat stores, thus decreasing body fat and shedding weight. Many starvation diets limit dieters to as few as 1,200 calories per day, which is the bare minimum anyone can eat to survive.

While starvation diets do make diets loose pounds, they wreak havoc on the metabolism, sending the body into starvation mode and actually encouraging the creation of fat when any excess in calories is achieved, which means the dieter can never quit the diet and maintain their ideal figure. Additionally, not all calories are equal, and a dieter could easily fulfill his or her quota with nutrition-less sodas or candies and deprive the body of necessary vitamins and minerals.

The Right Way to Diet

The countless numbers of dangerous fad diets and food plans make dieting look confusing and nearly impossible to endure, but the truth is eating properly is easier and healthier when you don’t prescribe to a popular diet plan. Achieving true physical fitness through your diet is simpler than you can imagine. Rather than being primarily concerned with cutting things from your diet, focus on increasing the positive nutrients you consume. This means add more variety to your diet, including more and better fresh and raw ingredients like fruits and veggies. The more of these good foods you eat, the less your body will crave energy from nutritionally bereft foods. Then, if you supplement your healthy diet with a regular exercise regimen, you will feel stronger and happier as well as see a drastic decrease in your waistline.

All fad diets demand you keep your body in a continual deficit of vital nutrients. While you may lose a few pounds in the beginning, in the long run you will see your body lose its ability to perform perfectly, and in the future it will be even harder to maintain a healthy weight than before you tried a quick and easy solution. If you engage in slow and steady weight loss, you could feel and look healthier for the rest of your life, not just the next few weeks.

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