Athletes and Fad Diets

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No matter the kind of sport participated in; athletes are human and can gain weight! Whether the culprit is an injury, off season or the holiday season, like the rest of us, they are tempted by the persuasive claims and promises of fad diets to help them lose the weight as fast as possible.

Tempted to try one of these diets? If optimal athletic performance is your goal, here are some reasons to avoid these fads at all costs:

•Osteoporosis. High-protein diets have been shown to increase calcium excretion. Over time, premature osteoporosis can develop and lead to a higher chance of broken bones while training.

•Insomnia. Both fad diets and associated products can interrupt normal sleep patterns. Inadequate rest can bring about accidents during a workout due to exhaustion or weakness. Insomnia sufferers may have impaired concentration and decreased ability to accomplish daily tasks, let alone strenuous workouts.

•Loss of muscle mass. Liquid and semi-starvation plans promising "rapid" or "effortless" weight loss lead to insufficient caloric intake. The outcome is loss of water, muscle, and organ tissue with little to no fat loss. So not only will you struggle to build new muscle, but you will actually lose strength and lower your metabolism.

•Increased risk of injury. Nutrient and caloric deficiencies can decrease alertness and stamina, enhancing your risk of injury. A less obvious cause of injury is the caffeine, ephedrine, or other stimulants that many diet aids contain. These elements create a false perception of increased energy, causing you to push yourself harder than you should, potentially harming joints or muscles.

•Reduced endurance. With most quick weight loss plans, glycogen and water are the first materials to be depleted. This deficit can be disastrous to performance and health, as you will lose energy to power muscles, leading to fatigue and lethargy.

•Compromised immunity. Nutritional deficiencies can make you drastically more vulnerable to both minor and major illnesses. These sick days equate to loss of conditioning, missed trainings and skipped events. Many supplements claiming to be "herbal" or "natural," may also interfere with certain medications. Just because something is all-natural does not mean it is safe. 

How to spot a Fad Diet

1.Promises a large or fast weight loss (more than one to two pounds per week)

2.Does not include suggestions to consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian

3.Encourages you to eliminate food groups (such as grains) or eat from a limited selection of foods

4.Offers rigid menus that don't consider your likes, dislikes and lifestyles

5.Neglects active living or lifestyle changes

6.Provides far fewer calories than what is needed for an energized, healthy lifestyle

7.Contradicts what most trusted health professionals say

8.Depends on special products, supplements or treatments

9.Has miraculous claims

10.Relies on testimonials and anecdotes rather than scientific evidence