Health & Wellness

Dial Down Hunger Using Tips from the Latest Fad Diets

Bridget Swinney, MS RD
By Bridget Swinney, MS RD

If you’re a woman thinking about fitting into

  • A swimsuit for an upcoming vacation
  • An outfit for a wedding, vacation, reunion, job interview, or perhaps an online date
  • Your clothes from last season

Then….

You’re probably thinking about trying one of those famous diets that promise loads of weight loss in a limited time. Am I right?

My inspiration this month comes from a co-worker who just started The General Motors Diet (GM Diet). (This one’s for you Imee!) This is a diet I definitely don’t recommend! (Case in point, after eating nothing but fruit yesterday and vegetables today, my friend was looking pretty pale, was not real focused and she had a headache by noon.) The fact is—any calorie/macronutrient restricted diet will help you drop pounds. Whether the loss is healthy, and whether it is really fat loss and not muscle loss or water loss is another story!

Instead of following a fad diet, that may actually put your health at risk, try some of these tips, drawn from the most popular fad diets.

  1. Healthy Hydration: Most fad diets recommend you drink 8-10 glasses of water and other non-sweetened drinks. Why? Hydration is important and it helps flush the system, but it also helps you stay full. Sometimes, the body is tricky, making us think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty. So drink up—water, tea and coffee. No sweetener is best, but if I have a choice, I’m going to use real sugar. Artificially sweetened drinks backfire as they make the body react as if they are having a large dose of calories to match the sweet taste. You really can’t fool Mother Nature!
  2. Eat your veggies! Low carb veggies are recommended in Atkins, Paleo and South Beach diets. In the afore mentioned GM Diet, for one entire day, the diet is nothing but vegetables. Eating veggies works to fill you up and eat less of other high calorie foods. A strategy I always suggest for clients wanting to lose weight is to eat a large serving or raw or cooked veggies before meals and before going out to dinner. (A raw fruit works too.)
  3. Slow Down. I haven’t actually seen this one in a fad diet yet but slowing down your food intake is a fabulous way to dial down hunger! Mindful Eating is a strategy that puts focus on paying close attention to your hunger and the smell, texture and taste of your food. Eating at a fast pace doesn’t let your brain know that you’re full, which leads to overeating. Mindless eating (hello a whole bag of popcorn or chips that disappears before you know it) leads to weight gain. Being more mindful can help you shed pounds and more importantly, inches.
  4. Eat some fat. Proponents of the Keto diet, as well as Atkins, know that fat is filling. That’s why eating a lettuce salad with fat-free dressing will have you racing for the candy jar in no time. Yes–you need fat and if you include it at every meal, it will leave you more satisfied. While some diets aren’t too picky about the type of fat you eat, your heart will be happier if you include plant-based fats like avocado, nuts, nut butters, chia, flax and sunflower seeds, olives and olive oil. Better-for-you animal fat-rich foods include fatty fish, dark chocolate, whole eggs and grass fed milk and meats.
  5. Power up with protein. Research proves protein keeps you full longer, due to it’s effect on hunger hormones. Also, your body uses more calories to digest protein (Thermic Effect of Food) compared to comparable amounts of carb or fat. And this of course, is where the GM Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet and other “lose weight fast” diets fail. The lack of protein means you’ll lose more muscle compared to diets that contain enough protein—and you’ll be hungrier. Losing muscle means you burn less calories, the exact opposite of what you want to do!

Finally, doing something “drastic” for a day or two can be a good way to jump start your weight loss, but any diet that cuts out or severely limits a whole food group is not something that’s healthy long term.

Bridget Swinney, MS RD
Bridget Swinney is a health communicator, award-winning author and well-regarded nutrition expert specializing in teaching people to embrace a healthier diet and lifestyle. In her 25 years as a registered dietitian, she has worked in public health, as a clinical...Read More
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