Diets suck. Most “diets” cannot be sustained over the long-term and they are rarely healthy. While we tend to obsess over weight-loss and the products that promise to make it easy, real health takes common sense. There is no secret diet strategies¬†formula — eat a variety of nutrient dense foods comprised of carbohydrates, fats, and protein, and get your body moving. You’ve known this forever.

But there will always be those who seek for fast and easy. They will fall prey to these 6 diet strategies that really suck:

  • Diets that focus on only a few foods or food groups:

They sound like horror stories from the 60’s — the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Grapefruit Diet, the (shudder) Hollywood Cookie Diet. Simply put, they don’t work. Yes, you will lose water weight, muscle mass, potentially a tiny bit of fat and other tissues, but you will gain it back almost immediately. Your body needs a lot of varied nutrients, so when you starve your systems of nutrition, it begins to cannibalize itself. And fat is often the last thing to go.

  • Extreme calorie reduction:

There is nothing wrong with occasional fasting, in fact, some doctors actually recommend incorporating intermittent fasting into fitness and nutrition routines for healthy weight-loss. But extreme reduction of calories (under 1,000k/cal/day for women and 1,200k/cal/day for men) over an extended period of time can cause severe health issues. While you will lose water and adipose tissue, you will also lose muscle mass. When you return to “regular eating” you will most likely gain all the weight back — as fat. If you continue to stick with severe calorie restriction, your organs will not have the energy at their disposal to function optimally, leading to organ damage, failure, and possible death.

  • Prepackaged everything:

Diets that will only work if you buy their foods/supplements/strategy guides/etc. Shakes, bars, pills, potions — while there is nothing wrong with using healthy and natural versions of these on occasion as snacks, they should never be the basis of your diet. These specialty diet companies just want to make as much off you as possible. Look at the label for these foods — do you even know what half of the ingredients are? Chemical concoctions are not food.

  • Fat-free anything:

Fat is your friend. No, really, fat is good for you. We need fats — they are an important part of a healthy diet: they provide us with essential fatty acids, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, and are a great source of energizing fuel. While we should be careful about the types of fat we eat and in what amount, we shouldn’t try to cut it out entirely. Many of the foods that have fats removed (fat-free, low-fat) use sugars or artificial sweeteners to make up for the bland flavor. Bacon tastes amazing because it is mostly fat. Celery tastes boring because it has no fat.

  • Counting EVERY. SINGLE. CALORIE:

Portion-control and label-reading are important dietary tools. You really should know what is going into your body and in what quantity. But weighing, measuring, and tracking every calorie sucks and isn’t really necessary (unless you are on a very specific diet for medical purposes like Ketogenic diets for epileptics). Tracking calorie type (macros) is less difficult if you absolutely feel that you have to track something. Just remember that balance is important, you need a variety of fats, proteins and carbs everyday.

  • Any diet without exercise:

No matter how well or how poorly you eat, your body needs exercise. You cannot build healthy muscles if you don’t ever use them. Fitness and health is about more than just being skinny — it’s about optimal nutrition, balance, and activity. No one ever got a six-pack by sitting on their butt and starving.

A good guideline to follow when reading about the newest Hollywood diet or miracle food — ignore it. If it came from a magazine or tabloid, have a good laugh and toss it out. Veggies, lean meats, healthy fats, and regular exercise are all it takes to be fit and healthy.

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