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Losing Weight in the New Year: Beware of Fad Diets

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Any diet that does not meet basic guidelines for good health or a diet that is popular for a while before it fades away can be termed a “fad diet.” Many people will jump on the fad diet band wagon at the start of the New Year to try to quickly lose the extra pounds they gained throughout the holidays. However, fad diets do not give you the tools you need to help change your eating and exercise behaviors permanently, and usually lead to the “yo-yo effect,” which involves rapid weight loss followed by weight gain.

A major concern with fad diets is that the guidelines often instruct people to eliminate entire food groups out of their diet. For instance, one popular diet, known as the paleo diet, recommends avoiding grains, dairy products, beans, legumes, potatoes, sugar, processed foods and modern fruits. While most nutrition experts agree that limiting or avoiding refined starches and processed foods is sensible, avoiding all fruits, beans and whole grains, such as quinoa or whole wheat, is not a good idea. These foods are extremely rich in nutrients, fiber and phytochemicals, and are important for a healthy, balanced diet.

The nutrition experts at Cone Health recommend following the guidelines suggested by the MyPlate model for safe, effective weight loss. MyPlate guidelines include:

  • Regular meal pattern of eating every 3 to 4 hours
  • Eating foods from all of the food groups—protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy foods
  • Making one-half of your plate fruits and vegetables
  • Taking small portions of all foods
  • Using lean meats and fat-free or low-fat dairy foods
  • Choosing at least one-half of your grains as whole grains
  • Exercising

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Heather Colleran is a registered dietitian at Cone Health Alamance Regional Medical Center, in partnership with Elon University Athletics as their sports dietitian. Dr. Colleran earned her Doctorate in Philosophy in human nutrition from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2010. She earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in chemistry from The University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1997, and a B.S. in exercise and sport science from the University of Massachusetts at Boston in 2003. She is also the sports dietitian for High Point University Athletics.