Signs diet won’t work, is a waste of money, dietitian says


A good nutrition plan can help you achieve goals such as building muscle, improving physical performance, or burning fat.

But not all diet programs are right for everyone, according to Angie Asche, RD, CSSDexpert nutritionist at Centera fitness and nutrition app created by actor Chris Hemsworth.

Diets with arbitrary or overly strict rules can block your progress, Asche told Insider.

Asche says there are four classic red flags that can generally tell you if a diet is worth your time, money, and energy. Here’s how to spot them:

If you have to buy special products, a diet can be a waste of money

One of the first signs that a diet might be more hyped than fact-based is if it involves an expensive investment in meal kits or other items.

You shouldn’t have to buy 80% or more of your food from a specific brand or company for good nutrition, Asche said.

A healthy diet should focus on a variety of whole foods that you can find at any grocery store or farmer’s market such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein sources like lean meat, fish, eggs and legumes, as generally recommended by dietitians.

Avoiding appropriate diet products also includes herbs, pills or powders intended to stimulate


– research suggests that the vast majority of weight loss supplements do not work.

And supplements that have fat-burning or muscle-building benefits, like caffeine, creatine, and protein shakes, can be helpful but, as the name suggests, should extra charge healthy eating, not replacing it, according to Asche.

“We have to take care of the food first,” she said.

Beware of one-size-fits-all meal plans

Another common pitfall of popular diet programs is if they use the same menu for everyone, regardless of an individual’s unique goals, preferences, or circumstances.

“If you just walk in and get a meal plan, that’s not helpful,” Asche said.

Ideally, a registered dietitian or other qualified nutrition expert would review your current routine and advise you on how to adjust it over time.

“I would like to hear more about what you are doing right now to see where we can make improvements, bit by bit,” she said.

Removing certain foods or food groups can be harmful

It’s a bad sign if your diet requires you to eliminate or severely restrict certain foods or food categories, including carbohydrates, sweets, or comfort foods.

You don’t need to cut anything out of a successful diet, but you should focus on balancing the foods you love with nutrient-dense choices, Asche said.

Banning foods might even make you more likely to crave them and less likely to stick to your diet, to research suggests.

Strict rules on a diet are unnecessary and often harmful

You don’t need to be on a diet exactly 100% of the time to be successful, and good diets allow some flexibility while generally keeping you consistent with healthy habits.

For example, food journals or calorie-tracking apps can be a useful tool for assessing your eating habits, but can become stressful or harmful if taken to extremes, Asche says.

“It can be awesome or awful and obsessive. You don’t have to use it to track every strawberry you put in your mouth,” she said.

Therefore, you may want to avoid programs that make you feel guilty if you don’t meticulously record every morsel of food or have similarly rigid rules that you can’t realistically maintain in your daily life.

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