Fad diets are not a shortcut

Warmer weather inspires people to get fit, but that doesn’t happen overnight.
February 27, 2012

With spring break right around the corner, many students are looking for ways to get into shape. This is the time of year when students look forward to wearing short-sleeved shirts and sundresses and can enjoy the warming temperatures as they rid themselves of annoying winter clothing. As the seasons — and wardrobe possibilities — change, students get tempted by the latest diet craze. Fad diets can emerge as a glamorized option for students who want to lose weight and be healthy.

Fad diets are a popular option for students who do not necessarily have the time to devote towards going to the gym every day. Certain diets like juice cleanses and calorie-cutting plans are gaining a lot of momentum for people in their twenties. For some, these sort of dieting options act as quick fixes to lose weight, but they are not the healthiest option compared to other more typical diet plans. Deciding what type of diet works best for whom is figured out on a personal level but as in any diet plan, there are still some precautions that need to be taken into consideration.

One popular pick for losing weight is the juice cleanse. As its popularity increases, more students are beginning to get curious about it and try it out for themselves. In a proper juice cleanse, a person drinks the juice extracted from fruits, vegetables and herbs for about three days. The idea is to completely rid the body of toxins and poisons by eliminating any and all things that would have any toxins or preservatives in it. Some who have tried this type of cleanse believe that it has helped to fine-tune their body and has helped them get a fresh mental and physical start to a healthy dieting regimen.

Phil Dietel, a senior nutritional science major at the University, is not completely sold on the idea of juice cleanses. He says that these cleanses, “are not the best way to start to become healthy, because it is all water weight that is lost in the cleanse.” He also said while being interviewed that “people who do these cleanses lose too much weight too fast.”

According to Michael Dansinger, the medical doctor on the TV show “The Biggest Loser,” planning ahead and losing no more than 3 pounds a week is recommended for healthy and safe weight loss at home.

When done in moderation as a way to restart your body’s diet, juice cleanses can be a great technique to jump start being healthy, cleaning the slate and making a conscious decision to begin making changes toward a healthier lifestyle. But when one does these cleanses for more than three days, as some do, this kind of continued fasting can cause nutrient deficiencies increases and the loss of electrolytes in the body. Side effects such as dizziness, nausea and severe headaches are a result.

If somebody does decide to partake in a cleanse, then eating as many fruits and vegetables in the days leading up to when they will do the cleanse is recommended. This is so that by the time they start the detox, the body is already used to the high amount of fruits and vegetables, and the diet is easier to carry out.

Juice cleanses are an interesting take on getting healthy. To lose weight, they are not recommended. As a starting point to learning how to control and eliminate food cravings, to strengthen immunity and increase energy, it is known to be beneficial.

Senior Kristian Miller, a kinesiology major and nutrition minor, suggests that college students eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly if they want to lose weight and be healthy. She recommends that students get about three days a week of cardio-respiratory exercise and to also partake in strength and resistance training if possible. For Miller, she tries to work in 30 minutes of exercise to her busy schedule at least every other day, if not every day.

The dilemma for many other students in this, though, is finding the time to devote toward working out. Even though students such as Miller do find the time to do this, it is not practical for every student at the University. Jobs, academic commitments and spending time with friends tend to take priority over working out, which is why so many students look toward quick solutions. Both Miller and Dietel say that these quick remedies would not be their first way to go about losing weight because they are not practical to being healthy in the long run.

The best way for college students to lose weight and acquire that beach-ready body is to do it the old fashioned way — burning more calories than what is eaten each day. For many, the reason for the lack of motivation is because the exercise isn’t stimulating enough. If a student is bored with running on a treadmill, then perhaps going outside and running around campus is better suited for them. Or if somebody hasn’t worked out for a while, going for a walk or taking on a less involved physical activity is a great way to work their way into cardiovascular activities.

There is no doubt that eating healthy in college and keeping it up is difficult. If a student wants to lose weight in time for spring break in just a few weeks, then a healthy diet and exercise plan is best. Fad diets like juice cleanses are portrayed as a magic bullet to losing weight but are not ideal because it does not benefit the dieter in the long term. The best way to live a healthy lifestyle and to keep it up is to do as both Miller and Dietel suggested to me: Go to a gym, do what you can, eat healthy and results will come. These benefits of eating healthy and exercising regularly are far greater and more rewarding than fad dieting.

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