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Facts About Weight-Loss
   Diets and Programs

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 Facts About Weight-Loss Diets and Programs      

Common weight-loss diets and programs

Many different diets and programs promise rapid weight loss. Below are a few. If you have questions about new diets or need nutritional information that is not discussed in this topic, see the Other Places to Get Help section to find out how to contact the American Dietetic Association (ADA).

False promises

Several diets make claims about combining or separating certain foods, eating certain foods because of their special properties, or using special supplements or procedures to "melt" fat away. Unfortunately, there are no such easy ways to lose weight. Combining foods in certain ways does not change their energy (calorie) content. Eating grapefruit does not "burn up" the calories in other foods. Saunas and hot tubs do not "melt away" fat. If you lose weight after a sauna, it is due to dehydration (water loss from sweat), and the weight will return as soon as you drink liquids.

Often, famous people or places (Beverly Hills diet, Air Force diet, Mayo Clinic diet) are used to advertise or promote diets. Remember:

  • Testimonials are advertising strategies, not research results. Just because someone claims that a diet worked for him or her doesn't mean that it will work for you, or even that it worked for that person! These are paid advertisements.
  • Institutions like the Air Force and the Mayo Clinic claim no association with the diets named after them.
  • Beware of diets that sound too good to be true; they usually are.

Emotional impact of dieting

The pressure to be thin takes its toll on our emotions. We have a tendency to feel bad about our weight because thinness is stressed by the fashion industry, the media, advertising, health professionals, and our culture. Overweight people are often thought of as having no willpower; being lazy, dirty, and less intelligent; and not caring about themselves. Dieting internalizes this negative image by making people feel like failures when they cannot lose weight. Instead of blaming the diets, overweight people tend to blame themselves. The thinking goes, "If I could just stay on that diet, I would be thin." (The person doesn't take into account that his or her body has powerful regulators that affect a person's weight.) Repeated diet failures set up a cycle of negative thoughts.

Food deprivation (whether by dieting or by starvation) eventually causes people to be obsessed with food. They will be much more likely to overeat when they get access to food or when they finally give themselves permission to eat. Many people who have dieted repeatedly have experienced the symptoms of food deprivation, which include hunger, preoccupation with food, lack of energy, and guilt after finally eating.

Identify why you want to lose weight. Is it for health reasons or for aesthetic reasons? If for aesthetic reasons, a healthy diet and moderate exercise—not a very restrictive diet—will be helpful. If your body mass index (BMI) is approaching 25 and you are at risk for diseases related to obesity, a more aggressive diet and exercise program may be for you.



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