Cleansing, Fad Diets and Rubber Band Principle
Cleansing, Fad Diets and Rubber Band Principle avatar

An alternative to "fad" or "cleansing" diets is to simply learn to eat healthy. Visit.

Are Setting Yourself Up for Failure and Disappointment?They’re baaaaccckkk!  I’ve been getting some emails and having my clients tell me that they are either starting or are already on a “cleansing” diet.  I even had one client refuse to work out during one of our training sessions because it was a “fasting” day during his cleanse.

I have spent a lot of time researching and studying various types of exercise and nutrition programs.  I firmly believe that the only way to better, long-term health and fitness is through engaging in daily exercise and and eating healthy.  Fad diets and cleansing are only quick-fixes and, in the long run, can be bad for you.

We are all creatures of habit.  We are who we are.  We tend to do the same routines, eat the same foods, watch the same television shows, take the same route to work, etc…   This is where the “Rubber Band Principle” comes in.  Often times, we will stretch outside our boundaries.  For those people engaged in sales careers, they’ll go to a seminar or attend a class and pick up all kinds of great ideas to improve their results.  They’ll go back to work with new energy and a determination to improve.  They implement the new tactics… for a few weeks.  They stretch themselves.  But, one day, they snap back to doing things the old way.  Sure, there are a few exceptions, but most of us will regress.

The same is true with our health.  Nearly everyone, at some point in time, engages in a 30-day fitness program (like 30-day abs) or goes on a “diet”.  Over these few weeks, we are intently focused on the program to get the results we desire.  We lose a quick 15 lbs. or start to feel (and maybe see) better abs.  But once those “short term” programs are over, what happens?  Most of us will snap back.  In fact, we snap back so far that we often go the other way.  With diets, we often gain more weight than was there in the first place.

So, with summer not far off, overweight people may be tempted to kick-start their weight loss and clean out their systems with one of the cleansing plans that are making their way around.  There are dozens of programs, outlined on websites, in magazines and in popular diet books. They vary widely, but most eliminate caffeine, alcohol, sugar, processed foods and fast foods. Many exclude dairy, meat and wheat products. The most stringent are liquid fasts.

These diets are big business for physicians, nutritionists, and other related professionals and companies because they often involving purchasing books, supplements, vitamins, shakes, drinks, teas, juicers and other products. While you are working the fat off, you’re making someone else very wealthy. God Bless free enterprise!

The plans claim to remove chemical and dietary toxins from the body. But weight-loss experts frown on these claims, sighting that there is no scientific evidence such programs do a better job than the body’s own organs. They also say many of the plans are deficient in protein and other nutrients.

“These kinds of diets are not a reasonable approach to weight loss, and there is no data that they do what they claim,” says Gary Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia. He is concerned that the cleanses could be harmful to people who suffer the medical consequences of obesity, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. [source: Nancy Hellmich, USA Today]

Joy Bauer, a registered dietitian in New York City, says: “People are always doing them, and it’s disheartening because they are sophisticated, smart people who know better, but they are so desperate for a quick fix. You don’t experience long-term success on them. You may be less bloated. You may feel lighter. You may be losing some weight, but much of it is water weight.”

Nutrition experts say they’d like to see some scientific evidence the plans work. “I’ve never seen any published trials that would lead me to believe that if you are healthy, your lungs, kidney and liver need help removing toxins from your body,” says Colleen Doyle, director of nutrition and physical activity for the American Cancer Society.

Nutritionists also are concerned that most cleansing diets are devoid of protein, which helps maintain muscle mass during weight loss. Bonnie Taub-Dix, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and a registered dietitian in New York City, agrees that the lack of protein in many such diets makes them nutritionally inadequate. “It’s like getting dressed and putting on three shirts and no pants. They may be nice shirts, but you are missing other critical things.”

I recently watched an episode of Dr. Oz, the Oprah-made-famous television talk show doctor.  He graphically explained why cleansing diets don’t work.  The gist of the segment was that our body needs certain good bacteria.  But during a cleansing or detox, we not only destroy the bad toxins and bad bacteria, we also destroy the good bacteria.

As a personal trainer, I see so many of my clients and friends commencing on a new fad diet, cleansing or detox program and shake my head.  I know some of you believe strongly in what you are doing.  I’m not trying to destroy your dream.  But I know that the chances of you coming out on the other end of a fad diet or a cleansing/detox program with long-term success is slim to none.  In fact, studies show that adherence to diets past one year is not very high.  A 2005 study of four popular diet programs including Weight Watchers, Zone, Ornish and Atkins concluded that the more weight was lost over a short period, the lower the adherence.  On average, 53- to 65% of the people in the study completed one year on the program.  Less than 10% maintained their weight loss a year later.  There are several studies, however, that conclude that engaging in exercise and eating healthy over a long period of time produces better, overall results to your body’s vital systems and functions.  A weight loss of 1-2 lbs per week is a healthy rate and that weight will stay off as long as you maintain your healthy lifestyle.

Fitness is a life-long committment, not a 17-day diet or 21-day cleanse.  If you want to look good for your 25th high school reunion, a cruise, or an upcoming wedding, then a fad diet may be an “okay” short-term fix.  But, if you want to feel better, look better and extend your life to be there for your spouse, kids, and grand children, you’ve got to make long-term changes that include good nutrition, cardiovascular exercise and strength training.  For more information on why you need all three, read my post

To your health!

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