There are very few of us who are completely happy with our bodies, and because of this, countless men and women resort to sometimes insane methods to lose weight. The scary thing about this is that often these diets aren’t even safe! Many of these fad diets encourage eating far less calories than your body actually needs simply to keep functioning, which is not safe. Your body burns calories even while you are sleeping and needs enough food in your system to keep going. Understandably, people delight in the process of eating fewer calories because they see weight loss, and lowering your calorie intake by a reasonable amount can be a good thing if you are over-eating. But for people who restrict it to less than 1200 calories a day for long periods of time; as some of these fad diets suggest, they are ultimately (slowly but surely) damaging their bodies. Not only is eating a calorie deficit dangerous in the long term, but it also slows down your metabolism; the thing that makes your body burn fat. Once your metabolism slows down it makes it harder for your body to burn fat, so although initially you may be losing weight, this will come to a halt, and unless you decrease your calorie intake even further you will stop losing weight in the way that you had seen before. It’s a vicious circle. There are of course exceptions to this, for example during a detox; at this point it is necessary to reduce calories in order to give the body a break from digesting so that it can purely concentrate on detoxifying and healing itself. It must be noted though that the maximum amount of time you can safely follow a detox for is two weeks...and if you do follow it for this amount of time then the calorie intake should be increased in the second week by approximately 200 calories simply because your body struggles on a very small amount of calories. The other issue with a lot of these fad diets is that many of them don’t specify which food groups you should stick to; they simply advise you to consume a certain number of calories per day. Counting calories isn’t a reliable way to monitor your food consumption; it’s far better to eat the right things than to focus on numbers, because a large amount of good food contains the same amount of calories as a small amount of bad food, but it’s obvious which is better for you. The other issue that people often don’t realise when they follow a fad diet is that once they stop the diet the weight will pile back on because all of the fad diets have a shelf life; you can’t live on them forever, and once you return to your normal eating habits your body will be grateful for the food and ‘hold onto it’ assuming that one day soon you will ‘starve’ it again. These diets are also usually particularly difficult to stick to; there are some diets that involve only drinking juice, or starving yourself for a few days and then eating for a few. As soon as you start these diets it is inevitable that you will fail because nobody can live (or for a better word, survive) like that. The diet HAS to end eventually. The only way to safely lose fat is through a clean eating lifestyle change. I typed a post a while ago about clean eating, but to summarise what clean eating involves: Making the decision to be a clean eater basically means choosing to eliminate all processed foods and extra additives from your diet. So you are choosing to eat whole, unrefined foods. Even if your goal isn’t weight/fat loss this is the healthiest lifestyle choice to make as you will be totally aware of everything that you eat and no hidden additives will sneak into your food. The easiest way to explain it is to just eat fewer ingredients. When you buy food check that there are no more than 4-6 ingredients in the ingredient list. Also, try to only buy foods where you recognise each item listed in the ingredients. This is the best way to ensure you know what you are putting into your body. Essentially you should be eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, meats and whole grains. Clean eating isn’t one of these quick fixes that promise to help you lose a stone in a week, but it is a sensible lifestyle change which WILL help you to lose fat gradually, and permanently keep it off. Losing fat isn’t easy as many of these fad diets will make you believe. It takes dedication and commitment, and starving yourself will not work. So ditch the fad diets, start clean eating, and you will see a vast improvement.