The fitness craze is at an all-time high. From miracle workout programs to miracle diets, there is something for everyone. And with all the social media exposure, it is easy to see why. Everyone wants that toned muscular look to boost their Instagram profiles.
As with everything in life, there are many extremes, and most of them are unhealthy. You can easily say that an extreme diet is almost the same thing as a 30, 60, or 90-day fitness challenge, only dialed up to 11. People tend to gravitate to extremes because it is not merely enough to make a change, that change needs to be quickly noticeable as well.
The current trend is that if something is more drastic, it is by definition better. For example, people choose to completely remove carbs from their diet, something that is extremely difficult and definitely not for everyone. Others try and switch to a fat-based diet, like keto, and then get 70 or 80 percent of their calories from fat. The one thing that connects all of these drastic dietary changes is speed. Everyone wants to accomplish everything in the least amount of time necessary. And people tend to think that if we are feeling more discomfort or even pain that only then something is happening.
But weight-loss has become a science unto itself. Years of dietary research tell us that reality is precisely the opposite to popular opinion. The biggest issue with these flash diets is that we do not tend to stick to them very long. And even when we make a concerted effort, we still only shed five to seven pounds, gaining back most of it soon after we finish watching what we eat.
For this exact reason, the same diet almost always wins in official reports coming from outlets like U.S. News and World Report. And that diet is one that is the most balanced nutrient-wise and one that forces you to make the least amount of changes in your eating habits. For example, very few people are going to be able to remove sugars entirely from their diets forever. So, picking a diet that forces you into something like that is probably not ideal. Cutting out junk food is a good idea in theory, but it is hard to execute. A better, healthier way of going about it is to choose a healthier way of consuming junk food. People are going to eat for the rest of their lives, so it is much more important to pick a diet to which you can stick to in the long-term. People should not implement drastic changes to avoid setting themselves up for failure.
In the official selection by a panel of dietary experts, the first place belongs to the Mediterranean diet. This diet consists of all the food your parents and grandparents told you to eat while growing up. This means that fruit, vegetables, fish, lean meats, and whole grains are the staples of your diet. Cutting back on processed sugars and starches is a must as well. The next diet is the DASH diet – Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The following few on the list are flexitarian, Weight Watchers, MIND, and the Mayo Clinic diet. These are all, more or less, variations on the first two diets. The ninth-place diet is the first one that is based around a single nutrient, and that is the Ornish diet which removes fat from the diet but is extremely difficult to follow. The same goes for fad diets like keto, raw, and Whole30. In all of these diets, people are running an extreme risk of nutritional disbalances.
To summarize, extreme dieting is never the answer, and a controlled and meticulous approach to dieting will always win out in the long run as with pretty much everything else in life. Small consistent tweaks and changes are the key to success.