The Problem with Fad Diet Professionals

The wellness industry tells you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear.  You want to hear that losing weight is fast and easy, that by following a few simple rules you won’t be hungry, you’ll be able to eat the foods you love, and lose a bunch of weight.  You’re also told that you should try such and such a diet because it is the “best” diet out there and far superior to the others you have tried in the past.  The other diets had it wrong and now we know better due to the latest advances in science.

This narrative is nice, clean, and tidy.  It tells you exactly what you want to hear and makes choosing a diet easy.  Reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

Weight loss is hard and no matter how hard you try you probably won’t lose as much weight as you would like to.  You are going to be hungry.  Simple steps don’t work.  Losing weight and keeping it off requires drastic change.  You will likely have to give up many of your favorite foods or at the very least moderate how much or how often you consume them. 

There is no “best” diet.  All diets have strengths, all diets have weaknesses.  The best diet is the one that you can stick to, which entails putting a lot of effort into making it work.  There are not and will not be any “revolutionary breakthroughs” or recent studies that makes one diet better than the others.  There have been tens of thousands of studies dating back to at least the 1950’s on weight loss.  There is no new technology or medical breakthrough just around the corner (outside of appetite suppressant pharmaceuticals).  If we haven’t figured it out by now, we’re never going to.

I’ve gotten so angry at weight loss practitioners (fitness professionals, dietitians, doctors) for providing such one dimensional, myopic, and idealistic solutions.  They should know better I say!  But maybe instead of being mad at the practitioners I should be upset with the public for allowing themselves to be sold an easy solution?  The public craves easy solutions.  They suspend their disbelief and are gullible enough to fall for these fad diets.  And why wouldn’t they?  They’re not experts.  They don’t have training in weight loss.  They’re relying on these practitioners for advice.  But here’s the problem.  Weight loss practitioners often

  1. Are beholden to the desires of the public
  2. Market materials to meet these needs
  3. Don’t know what they don’t know

There are so many people out there that “want” to lose weight or are “trying” to lose weight without fully committing themselves to the cause.  People don’t want to drastically disrupt their lives or be hungry all the time.  They want to change on their terms.  This is where so many of the “easy solutions” come in (and there are many).

And not only does the public crave easy solutions but so do practitioners.  It is far easier to put a client on a generic fad diet with simplistic, easy to follow rules than it is to take the time to build their diet from scratch (which we do at Lifestyle Reboot).  Adopting a fad diet requires no original thoughts or deep level understanding of nutrition and metabolism or the nuances of someone’s life.

So, I guess I understand that a) the public demands an “easy” diet solution and that b) fad diets require minimal effort to promote, but what really burns me is the completely overexaggerated, unrealistic claims put forth in the marketing of fad diets.  Below is a table of fad diet buzzwords, what they really mean, and what Lifestyle Reboot strives to be about.

Fad diets do not work for 95% of people.  The problem is, however, that some people can successfully lose weight and keep it off and that’s all the weight loss professional needs to show that his/her approach works.  So, they take a minimally effective product and market the crap out of it.  They use “science” and “evidence” along with a compelling narrative of how the diet works and testimonials from the 5% of people it worked for and voila, you’ve got yourself a business.  Weight loss programs are marketed on feelings, emotions, and industry buzzwords, not actual (overall) results.  If programs were marketed on results, they would be out of business.

Weight loss programs are marketed on feelings, emotions, and industry buzzwords, not actual (overall) results.  If programs were marketed on results, they would be out of business.

I’ve spent years trying to understand (debating in my own head) whether weight loss practitioners are ignorant or malicious.  I still don’t know what to think and it wouldn’t be right to whitewash everyone into a single group but in general I think the following is true in many cases.

The old adage of “I’m a hammer and everything I see is a nail” rings true for many of the fitness enthusiasts, dietitians, doctors, and Instagram celebrities.  The fitness enthusiast will be successful on any diet he/she tries.  Their level of commitment, interest in fitness, and in most cases genetic background makes it easy to lose weight/be fit.  Dietitians have some of the same qualities along with an idealistic, type A personality of what a perfect diet should look like.  Doctors have virtually no training in diet or exercise, yet due to their understanding of physiology and medicine they think they know what they are doing.  And Instagram celebrities are probably the worst of the bunch as they may or may not have any training and minimal understanding of physiology yet are the most vocal and best at marketing themselves.

I get it, it’s tough knowing all that you need to know about obesity and weight loss to create a comprehensive program that meets the needs of every unique individual.  I created a 5000+ page database (The Paper Database) to try to manage all this information.  Ninety-nine percent of weight loss professionals don’t even know this information exists let alone how to find, organize, and interpret it.

I completed my PhD in Bioenergetics and Exercise Science (Metabolism) after completing a master’s degree in exercise physiology and an undergraduate in dietetics (nutrition).  I was sure that I knew everything there was to know about nutrition, metabolism, and weight loss……that is until I built out The Paper Database.  It turns out that I didn’t know shit.  And I still don’t know as much as I would like to. But I’m willing to admit that I don’t have the “best” diet and I don’t have all the answers.  But I do know that Geof and I have put together the best possible program with the available evidence to help you lose weight and keep it off.

At Lifestyle Reboot, we are putting our money where our mouth is by offering a money back guarantee.  If you don’t lose more than 10% of your starting body weight after a year, we will give you your money back.  Our program isn’t based on marketing, it’s based on results.

Too many weight loss programs are just about the food.  Losing weight and keeping it off isn’t about some special diet.  It’s about controlling your food environment through meal planning, getting consistent exercise, and dealing with your emotions.  It’s not as sexy and entertaining as so many other approaches but if it works it works.  Give us a try today.  What have you got to lose?