How Fad Diets Impact Your Training

We know that nutrition is a vital part of boxing training. Fueling your body with the right foods will help you to maintain a healthy weight, build strength and give you the energy and focus you need to get the most out of your training.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation floating around the web when it comes to dieting. Fad diets are all the hype right now, but do they work? Or do they do more harm than good?

Let’s find out!

What Are Fad Diets?

Before we define a fad diet, let’s first explore what a diet is in general. A diet is simply the food in which one eats. A person’s diet might consist of lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, or it might consist of fried food and takeout.

Now, you might think of “diet” in terms of weight loss or even general health. A weight loss diet is a specific diet in which one restricts themselves to certain foods. They generally follow some guidelines, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, limiting processed foods, and controlling portion sizes.

A fad diet is “any number of weight-reduction diets that either eliminate one or more of the essential food groups or recommend consumption of one type of food in excess at the expense of other foods.”

Here are some examples of popular fad diets that are trending today:

  • The Ketogenic Diet is an extremely high fat, low carbohydrate diet that promotes about 75% fat, 20% protein, and only 5% carbohydrates. Because of the small allowance of carbs, even fruits and vegetables are limited. While weight loss does occur, it’s not sustainable, and many people suffer from nutrient deficiencies, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, many people on a keto diet go through what is termed the “keto flu” where they literally experience flu-like symptoms due to the severe lack of carbohydrates.
  • The Paleo Diet is yet another very low-carb diet. This diet promotes a high consumption of red meat and prohibits dairy, grains, legumes and some fruits, all foods which are highly nutritious. Again, weight loss will likely occur, but such a strict diet is hard to keep up and may lead to many symptoms like headaches, fatigue and constipation.
  • Low-carb diets, like Atkins, have picked up a lot of momentum. Unfortunately, these diets promote carbs as being the enemy, when in fact carbohydrates provide numerous benefits, like fiber, vitamins, minerals and are the body’s preferred source of energy. Low-carb diets tend to be very restrictive and are hard to follow for the long term.
  • Low-fat diets are another type of fad that promotes higher protein and carbohydrate intake with limited amounts of fat. The thought process is that less fat equals fewer calories which leads to weight loss. In reality, healthy fats are an essential part of our diet. What’s more, science shows that eating fats actually helps you to lose fat! Who woulda thunk?
  • Liquid diets or juice cleanses are just as they sound. They consist of drinking the majority of your daily calories in the form of fluids. They may be fully liquid or may include some snack bars or light meals in between. These types of diet severely restrict the kind of food your eating, and often leave you feeling unsatisfied without any actual food to chew. They tend to lack protein and fats.

Difference Between a Healthy Diet and a Fad Diet

You might be thinking, “well, a healthy diet restricts food too, so what’s the difference?”

The one big difference between a healthy diet and a fad diet lies in what types of foods are restricted.

Key aspects of a healthy diet:

  • Only limits foods that are scientifically proven to have little nutritional benefit, like sugar or highly processed foods.
  • Certain food groups, like carbohydrates or fats, may be more limited, but not severely restricted.
  • A healthy diet promotes eating a well-balanced variety of food, containing all of the essential food groups (e.g., protein, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber).
  • Healthy diets are not restrictive, and should still allow the foods you love in moderation.

Key aspects of a fad diet:

  • Cuts out whole food groups that are known to be nutritionally beneficial, like carbohydrates or fats.
  • May promote eating excessive amounts of one type of food, like the cabbage soup diet where you each cabbage soup every day for seven days.
  • Promise of rapid weight loss in a short time period. You might see something like, “lose up to 10 pounds in 7 days.”
  • Extremely specific about what you can eat. For example, one of the breakfast options on the Military Diet includes five saltine crackers, one slice of cheddar cheese, and one small apple. Remember, everyone’s body has different needs, so a diet should allow room for you to make it your own.

You can see that there are some pretty significant differences between a healthy diet and a fad diet. If something seems too restrictive or meticulous, it’s probably a fad diet.

Fad Diets and Weight Loss: Do They Work?

Many people are attracted to fad diets because of the promise of quick, seemingly magical, weight loss. And guess what? It works! But there’s a catch…

Most of the weight you lose on a fad diet is from water and lean muscle, not body fat. When you regain your normal eating pattern (or worse, go off on a binge because of the highly restrictive nature of the fad diet) you will gain it all back, and possibly more.

What you want is long-term results, and that comes in the form of maintaining as much muscle as possible while losing body fat, not water. That happens through healthy lifestyle changes, which we discuss below.

How to “Diet” the Healthy Way

The best healthy diet is not having a diet at all! It’s important to follow the general guidelines of healthy eating, but there needs to be room to make it your own. No two people are alike. Each has different needs, likes and lifestyles.

Follow these guidelines and be on your way to healthy eating that will fuel your body and mind:

  • Fill half of your plate with vegetables at each meal.
  • Include high-quality protein, whole-grain carbohydrates and healthy fats with each meal.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Snack on things like fruits, nuts, cheese, whole-grain crackers, raw vegetables and hummus or full-fat yogurt and low-sugar granola.
  • Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are satisfied.
  • Most importantly, enjoy the foods you love in moderation by allowing yourself a small treat every other day.

Eating this way is going to fuel your training. You will be full of the energy you need to sustain your workouts, you’ll have a clear mind, you’ll be feeding your muscles rather than depleting them, and you’ll have the right nutrients to help your body burn fat.

At Gloveworx, we like to keep things simple. We don’t believe in fad diets or quick fixes that leave you worse off than where you started. We guide our clients through lifestyle changes to get real, lasting, sustainable results, and that includes both training and nutrition. Talk to your coach about how to fuel your training and reach your goals.