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    January 4, 2021

    January 2021 Corporate Newsletter


     Contributed by Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT

    It’s January, and that means the diet advertisements will be coming at you fast and furious, with lots of overpromises that underdeliver. To help you make some healthier choices in the new year, we are breaking down three popular FAD diets and providing three safer and healthier lifestyle approaches. 

    The diet industry is a $71 billion industry. The reason diets make so much money? Because they are designed to fail. The industry knows that you will invest in one diet, get frustrated, quit, and move on to another diet. In fact, 95% of diets fail, and most people regain the weight within 1 to 5 years. 

    FAD Diets, otherwise known as Fast Acting Diets, flood your social media with dramatic before and after photos. The food industry soon catches on and creates products targeted to those following these diets. Just like other diets, FAD Diets may seem like a miracle at the beginning, but you soon learn that it’s hard to maintain, and you get frustrated and feel guilty. Let’s call out those FAD Diets. 

    Here are three FAD Diets to know about in 2021: Intermittent Fasting, Ketogenic Diet (aka “Keto”), and Sirtfood Diet.

    Intermittent Fasting

    Intermittent Fasting, or “IF”, is an approach that focuses on when to eat, versus what to eat. It may not seem like a traditional “diet” because there are no guidelines or restrictions on the types of foods you can eat, just when you should have them. Exercise is also encouraged. There is some science that supports that by putting the body into fasting states, we are able to promote breaking down fat for energy, BUT the jury is out if IF itself is responsible for weight loss, or just eating fewer calories. 

    There are several approaches to IF, including Eat-Stop-Eat (not eating for a full 24-hour period) and 5:2 Diet (only eating 500-600 calories on non-consecutive days and “normal” on non-fasting days). Neither of these approaches show long-term success. The most common approach people are taking to IF is Time Restricted Eating, where windows of fasting and non-fasting are designated throughout the day.

    The most popular Time Restricted Eating approach is the 16:8 method, where there is a 16-hour fasting period and an 8-hour feeding period. However, for people new to IF, this is not recommended because it is too restrictive. Instead, it is recommended to designate 12 hours fasting and feeding windows, instead, for those new to IF. Over time, you can adjust your windows. It should be noted that research has shown that women should not fast longer than 14 hours. 

    BUT, before starting your IF lifestyle, here are three common mistakes to be aware of:

    1. Too restrictive

    If you’re giving yourself a short window of time to eat, you may be too hungry by the time you eat and then overeat to compensate. Or, if you’re only allowing yourself one or two meals a day, you may be eating too much at those meals. 

    2. Habit changing

    IF doesn’t require you to restrict or eliminate any certain foods, but if you don’t change your eating habits to include more fruits, vegetables, other high fiber foods, and lean sources of protein, then you’re not going to see results. Likewise, you still need to include exercises as part of your routine.

    3. Eating too late in the day

    Many people don’t have their first meal until noon or later, however, research shows that people who have a first meal within an hour of waking up tend to have healthier body weights. The later it gets in the day, the less energy we need. Start eating earlier so you can utilize the energy you get from food.

    Ketogenic Diet

    US News & World Report consistently ranks the Keto Diet as one of the worst diets, mostly because the high saturated fat foods promoted on the keto diet are not ideal to consume in frequent quantities, while healthy foods such as fruits, whole grains, legumes, and many vegetables need to be eliminated. The ketogenic diet was initially utilized to treat epilepsy, not as a weight loss method.

    There are many health risks to be aware of by following a ketogenic diet long-term, including: 

    • Stress on kidneys and increased risk of kidney stones
    • Negative impact on gut health and gut bacteria
    • Nutrient deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
    • May cause hypoglycemia
    • May reduce bone mineral density and increase risk of osteoporosis
    • Higher incidences of heart disease and cancer

    While there can be weight loss success initially (after adjusting to that nasty “Keto Flu” period), a keto approach is too challenging to maintain long-term. Just like its diet relative, the Atkins Diet, weight gain occurs once people go back to eating “normally,” because long-term habits are not endorsed with keto.

    Sirtfood Diet

    Singer Adele made headlines in 2020 with her dramatic weight loss transformation due to the Sirtfood Diet. The creators of this FAD diet claim that “sirtfoods” are the secret to unlocking fat loss and preventing disease. And hey, the diet also encourages the consumption of chocolate and red wine while still losing weight. 

    Sirtuins (SIRTs), are a group of seven proteins found in the body that has been shown to regulate a variety of functions, including metabolism, inflammation and lifespan. Certain natural plant compounds may be able to increase the level of these proteins in the body, and foods containing them have been dubbed “sirtfoods.” The diet combines sirtfoods and calorie restriction, both of which may trigger the body to produce higher levels of sirtuins.

    There is a list of “Top 20 Sirt Foods” listed in the diet, which includes kale, red wine, strawberries, soy, dark chocolate, and coffee. Due to caloric restriction, weight loss can be achieved, but research has not proven the scientific claims that are made by the diet creators to be true, safe, or effective long term.

    FAD Diet Red Flags

    Here are some red flags to help you determine if you should go all in or run in the opposite direction: 

    • Does it promise a quick fix in a short amount of time? 

    • Are you restricted with certain foods you can eat, and do you have to eliminate one or more of the five food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy)? 

    • Do you have to buy certain products or supplements in order to follow the diet? 

    • Does the diet allow for flexibility, or is it rigid? 

    • Is it challenging going out to eat in a restaurant or someone’s home? 

    • Is the diet based on someone’s personal experience, and/or does a celebrity endorse the diet? 

    • Is there no science backing up the claims? 

    • Does the diet promise weight loss without having to exercise? 

    If your potential diet has you answering “Yes” to one or more of these questions, move on.

    Safe and Effective Weight Loss Approaches

    It may not be a novel approach, but increasing intake of wholesome foods have been shown to be effective for lifelong weight management. Pair that up with exercise, stress management, and a good sleep pattern, and it all becomes part of your daily routine. The top three eating lifestyle approaches for effective weight management aren’t technically “diets” at all: the Mediterranean Diet, DASH Diet, and Flexitarian Diet.

    Remember, a healthy eating approach is all-inclusive, allows flexibility to enjoy treats, encourages exercise, and can be maintained long term without feeling like “work”. 

    Mandy Enright MS, RDN, RYT, is a Registered Dietitian, Yoga Instructor, and Corporate Wellness Expert, as well as main content contributor for Wellness Concepts. Mandy is a featured presenter, both virtually and onsite near her home in Neptune, NJ.



    January 2021 Newsletter

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