Sorry, No Quick Fixes: Why Fad Diets Don’t Work

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The Plant Paradox" by Steven R. Gundry. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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Are you wondering why fad diets don’t work? Is there something that does?

Unfortunately, there are no quick and easy solutions to getting healthy. While fad diets are tempting, it’s important to know why fad diets don’t work, so you don’t waste your time or put your body through unnecessary stress.

If you want to know why fad diets don’t work, read on.

Why Fad Diets Don’t Work Long-Term

Fad diets focus on major short-term efforts that produce quick results but don’t change long-term habits, so you gain the weight right back. There are many fad diets out there, including Atkins, South Beach, ketogenic, paleo, Mediterranean, raw food, Weight Watchers, and Zone, to name some. But there’s a reason why fad diets don’t work. Most diets don’t address the root issue, which is that the food that we eat and products we use trigger biological responses in your body that makes you fat or unhealthy. When you know how foods and other products affect your body, you can make choices that keep your body happy, and your weight will naturally stabilize. So why don’t fad diets work? Let’s find out.

Popular Diets and Their Shortcomings

Why don’t fad diets work?

Atkins, South Beach, and Paleo (low carb): Cutting lectin-containing grains and legumes is successful in the short term, but dieters typically gain the weight back when they reintroduce the grains and legumes back into their diet in the maintenance phase. Even with continued restriction, weight loss typically plateaus. Why fad diets don’t work partly depends on these plateaus.

Ketogenic (low carb, high fat): This can be good for people with diabetes, insulin resistance, cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s, autoimmune diseases, and gut diseases. Success is likely based on eliminating many lectin-containing foods rather than eating fats. Part of why fad diets don’t work is because lectins are still involved.

Ornish, Esselstyn, T. Colin Campbell (low fat, whole grain): Because they incorporate lectins, so these diets don’t prevent the progression of coronary artery disease. (Shortform note: Read our summary of T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study here.) However, dieters do still tend to lose weight. This is likely attributable to reducing lectin-containing facts, reduced inflammation, eating unprocessed grains, and improving your gut microbes.

Ditch the Excuses

Why fad diets don’t work is because you need a sustainable lifestyle change. The PPP isn’t just about losing weight, it’s about taking care of your body to live a long, healthy life.

These are some of the most common excuses for not trying the PPP—and the reasons they don’t hold water. Some of these are part of the question “why don’t fad diets work?”

Excuse 1: You’re already fit and active. Although you may exercise regularly, eat foods you believe are healthy, and appear trim and fit, this is no guarantee that your insides are in great health; you can still be at risk for serious diseases down the road if you don’t take care of your gut and internal health. 

Excuse 2: You think you have to understand nutrition and metabolism. It helps to understand the rationale behind the PPP, but when it comes down to it, all you need to know is which foods to eat and which to avoid. 
Excuse 3: You think you’re too old to make such significant changes in your life. You’re never too old to make positive changes or to reap the benefits of those changes. About 90 percent of your cells renew every three months, and they’ll benefit from high-quality, nourishing food.

Sorry, No Quick Fixes: Why Fad Diets Don’t Work

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Steven R. Gundry's "The Plant Paradox" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Plant Paradox summary:

  • Why eating more vegetables isn't enough, and why some vegetables are toxic to your body
  • The science behind lectins and how they tear apart your body, making you fat and sick
  • The 6-week program to get your body back on healthy grack

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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