The Hurry and the Harm: Are Fad Diets Worth it?

As the Oklahoma heat makes its appearance, preparation for the ‘perfect summer body’ begins. Some people set new gym schedules, others focus on counting calories, and then there are the many who look to something different: the fad diet.

Herbalife, It Works, Jenny Craig, and others have been labeled as fad diet trends. According to, “fad diets are short-term quick fixes that actually set many dieters up for weight-loss failure.”

Those looking for a ‘quick fix’ usually end up back where they started.

Fashion Retailer and college graduate, Rachel Clay, 22, said she used Herbalife. “It was incredibly effective for me,’ Clay said. “I started at 205, and over the course of 7-8 months I was down 60 pounds.”

Clay followed the guided directions by using on-hand products provided by her health coach.

“They gave me three different products. Formula one with the meal replacement shakes, thermogenic tea which helps boost metabolism, and a pill–an herbal supplement called cell-u-loss,” she said. “I used it as a crutch, and didn’t develop good habits, so by the time I stopped, I didn’t have the healthy routine that I could have built to fall back on.”

For a college student like Clay, a change in schedule made it difficult to focus on her health and overall nutrition.

A report by the United States Department of Health and Human Services said that less than 5 percent of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day. “Only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week,” the report said.

The infamous Freshman Fifteen (the 15 pounds students often gain their first year of college) echoes in familiarity for millennials as well as adults who go through diet after diet, looking to organize their life physically, socially, and academically.

Most resort to fad dies because they have little free time.

Dietician Shannon Burke, 24, said fad diets can be dangerous and harmful to a person’s body.

“Most fad diets are for a short period of time, and too extreme to follow,” she said. “I promote a healthy lifestyle for weight loss.”

Burke said companies like It Works, or Herbalife ‘promise’ that their product will completely change your life, burn your fat, and give you all the energy in the world.

Burke disagrees.

“A healthy, well balanced diet with exercise and good sleep can do more for you than any product marketed out there,” she said. “When we combine all of these things, we will be healthy, and that is the main goal.”

There are individuals who want to improve their health but don’t know where to start, so they look to professionals for guidance.

According to an article published by the American Association Family Physicians, many people look to fad diets because their physician doesn’t provide any nutritional information.

Dr. Jeffry Gerber said primary care physicians should take specific steps when their patient mentions looking into a fad diet.

“It’s not about just losing weight, but helping patients understand health risks about losing weight,” Gerber said. “It’s all about redefining the balance.”

As others search for the miracle diet, there are those who find a lifestyle change to match their career choice.

Private Security Contractor Jet Rumsey, 24, is a bounty hunter in training. Keeping up with his health, mentally, physically, and emotionally is a constant in his life, he said.

“Learn how your body works. Learn the different types of fats, what protein does, what carbs do, how fiber works,” Rumsey said. “If you have a basic understanding of what you’re fueling yourself with, then you can put a sense of good and evil with everything you eat.”

As someone who previously used Herbalife, Rumsey said he was able to differentiate what worked best for his body. “Supplements help, wraps help, new programs help, but they won’t do the work for you,” he said.

Rumsey said none of the products work without the fundamental process of hard work and consistency.

Rumsey said he respects the companies for helping people achieve physical results but disagrees when their customers take this step as the easy way out.

“It’s stomach-turning to see that people abandon common sense for this crap,” he said.

For many Oklahomans a consistency in health is an ongoing battle.

Good health takes time, patience, and motivation to get to the physical and mental balance. Establishing good habits won’t happen overnight. Organizing and creating routine is the best path to take when beginning to change a person’s lifestyle.

When looking into a new lifestyle change, research is a must. Apply healthy habits with whichever plan best fits your needs, especially in your nutrition — because most diets can take away something valuable your body needs.

Those who have questions on how to establish healthy habits should talk to a health specialist, their primary care physician, a dietician, or even a health coach who can provide the necessary information.

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