As we move into the beginning of the year, many of us consider what changes we can make in the new year, including diet and exercise. After indulging during the holidays, we often consider how to best lead a healthier life and lose some of that weight we gained from the prior year. There are so many fad diets out there, it’s difficult to make an informed decision. Anthem Blue Cross breaks down some of the more well known health fads today.
Know the facts about popular health fads
To help you feel confident when making decisions about your personal health goals, it’s good to know the facts about the latest diet and fitness trends. They typically promise fast weight loss by restricting certain types of food or focusing on one type of exercise. However, in the long run, they’re often costly, not flexible, and hard to maintain over time.
The truth about current diet trends
Here are the facts about some popular diet and fitness trends:
Very low carbohydrates (carb) (ketogenic) diet
Being careful with the type and amount of carbs you eat can be a healthy habit. Vegetables, fruits, and many whole grains are types of carbs with a lower glycemic index (GI) that can help balance blood sugar levels. Simpler carbs like sweets, breads, and white rice can spike blood sugar levels fast. People on this diet tend to avoid simple carbs and even some healthier options, like vegetables and fruits.
- Why it’s popular: High-carb foods tend to be high This is why cutting carbs leads to weight loss.1
- Why be careful: Carbs are your body’s main source of fuel, so this plan may cut out nutrients your body 2 This diet is hard to maintain long term, so many people gain back the weight.2 Anyone with a health condition, such as diabetes, should also work with their doctor on a balanced eating plan.
Quick fat-loss gimmicks
Some popular fat-loss gimmicks include juice cleanses, body wraps, fat-melting creams, waist-trimming belts, and weight-loss pills and powders. These products promise big changes to your body in a short period of time.
- Why it’s popular: It takes very little effort to use these They’re also easy to purchase.
- Why you should be careful: Most of these fat-loss methods aren’t medically sound and can be unsafe to In fact, most diet supplements aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Anything you put on your skin or swallow could potentially cause reactions that range from discomfort to life-threatening.
This involves replacing meals with packaged drinks, food bars, or ready-meals that are designed for weight loss.
- Why it’s popular: With packaged meals, you know exactly how many calories and nutrients are in your Meals require little to no preparation.
- Why be careful: It’s important to read nutrition Some of these products can contain as much sugar as eating a candy bar. Others can be packed full of sodium (salt). These foods can also be costly, which can make sticking to this diet challenging.3
Diet fad warning signs
Health fads come and go, but the telltale signs are usually the same. If you’re wondering whether your diet or fitness plan might be a fad, ask yourself:
- Does it completely restrict certain foods or activities?
- Does it promise extreme weight loss in a very short time?
- Does it label certain foods or activities as “good” or “bad”?
- Do you have to buy products from a specific brand in order to follow it? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it may be a health fad.4
Healthy lifestyle plans that work
When it comes to diet and exercise, one size does not fit all. However, if you follow these four safe, tried-and-true basics, you’ll be on the path to looking and feeling your best.
Plan your plate. Every person’s nutrition needs are a little different. A good starting point is to aim for balanced meals that include whole grains, fruits, lean protein, a variety of colorful vegetables, and plenty of water.5
Move more. Whether it’s walking, running, or dancing, experts recommend 150 minutes per week of activity. Exercise helps your body burn calories and improves your heart health.6 Including strength training at least twice a week in your routine helps to maintain muscle mass and can help prevent injuries.
Set realistic goals. Aim to make a plan that you can stick to long term.3 If you want to lose weight, aim for one pound a week as a safe, healthy, achievable goal. To help you stay motivated, focus on how your clothes fit rather than the number on the scale.
Talk to your doctor. Always talk to your healthcare team before starting any new diet or exercise plan. Many factors can impact your health, such as your medical history and any medicines you take.
Your doctor can help you figure out the best plan for your health goals.
1 Mayo Clinic: Could a low-carb diet give you an edge in losing weight? (accessed May 2022): mayoclinic.org.
2 Mayo Clinic: Atkin’s diet: What’s behind the claims? (accessed May 2022): mayoclinic.org
3 Mayo Clinic: Weight loss: Choosing a diet that’s right for you (accessed May 2022): mayoclinic.org.
4 Center for Young Women’s Health: Fad diets vs Healthy Behaviors (May 2022): youngwomenshealth.org.
5 Drugs.com: Meal planning with the plate method (May 2022): drugs.com.
6 “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults.” American Heart Association (accessed May 2022): heart.org.
Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California. Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Association. Anthem is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc.