From Fads to Fiber: Rethinking Weight Loss Strategies

by Sydnei Douglas, Wellness Trainer, Fitness and Wellness Division, Department of Human Resources

In the relentless pursuit of weight loss, the allure of fad diets and their compelling promises often leads us astray. Internet searches related to weight loss inquiries have increased immensely over the years, so it is safe to say that many are interested in making some changes but need guidance. This guidance often comes from social media and our interpersonal relationships. However, the truth is that consuming a high-fiber and plant-predominant diet is a simple approach to weight loss because it is more sustainable and backed by substantial scientific evidence.

Fad diets are trendy dietary patterns known to be a quick fix for long-term problems. Three key characteristics can quickly identify them: they promise rapid weight loss, focus on one food group or eliminate entire food groups, and provide limited scientific evidence to support their claims. It is also important to note that even if there is available scientific evidence, these studies have not been conducted often or long enough to understand long-term health effects and usually fail to mention high dropout rates. The reason behind these high dropout rates is that the strict regimes of fad diets make them unsustainable long-term, and participants usually revert back to their previous eating habits, regaining the weight they already lost, plus more.

Instead of relying on “quick fix” diets, do yourself a favor by making small but substantial changes to your diet like including more fiber and plant-based foods. Dietary fiber makes you feel full, so consuming more will cause you to eat fewer calories overall. Most meat contains unhealthy fats, so reducing the amount of it you consume will aid you in managing your weight as well. We know that the all-or-nothing approach is only sometimes realistic, so instead of cutting out meat entirely, try a plant-forward diet with a mixture of meat and non-meat protein sources like beans, nuts, and lentils. The key to losing weight is to burn more calories than you consume daily. Making these minor changes to your eating habits and regularly exercising are far more efficient ways to reach and maintain your goal weight than participating in fad diets. 

If you are the type of person who likes to follow a diet plan, consider the Mediterranean diet. This diet is not a quick fix; it’s a complex of dietary choices followed by people living in the Mediterranean region who derive most of their calories from fish and plant-based foods. Whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish, and nuts are key components of this diet, with moderate allowances of alcohol, dairy products, and meat. The Mediterranean diet is the most extensively studied diet to this day and is proven to be suitable for weight-loss-oriented people.

The Fitness and Wellness Division of the Human Resources Department is committed to helping you ditch the gimmick diets and improve your eating habits by offering an eight-session nutrition program called Full Plate Living. This program will help you understand how to alter your meals to add as much fiber as possible without relying on an all-or-nothing approach. If you, your department, or work group are interested in participating in this program, please contact the Fitness and Wellness Division to get started!




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