Nutritionists Say This Is the Worst Wedding Diet Advice
If you're trying to slim down before the big day, make sure you're losing weight in a healthy way.
Ever since I got engaged a few months back, I jump on Facebook almost daily to read posts in various wedding groups. I’m looking for tips about crafting, wedding planning and dress shopping — but as a registered dietitian nutritionist, I can’t help but stop to read the conversations about wedding weight-loss. Some of the advice is sound, but some is so downright horrible I wouldn't want anyone to follow it, ever. So I went to my RDN colleagues for their thoughts on the wedding diets. I'm confident this advice will help you accomplish your weight goals and won’t harm your health in the process.
Forget It: Cut out gluten and dairy.
“Cutting out any food group isn't the way to lose weight,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, author of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. “Many crash diets in which you starve yourself are useless because after your wedding you tend to gain it all back, if not more!” Those diets that say to forget gluten and dairy? Cutting out gluten is only truly beneficial for people with Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy. “Gluten-filled foods contain a variety of nutrients, including a variety of B vitamins,” says Amidor. Those B vitamins provide energy to help fuel your wedding planning! She recommends reaching for smaller portions of whole grains — have a slice or two of whole-wheat bread, or a cup or less of cooked whole-grain pasta. “It's the baked goods and higher-calorie snacks and treats that can get you to overeat,” says Amidor. Enjoy those in moderation.
As for dairy? Cutting it out isn’t a miracle answer to weight loss, either — and the protein it provides can actually help you build muscle and indirectly burn more calories, if you eat it within a couple of hours of working out. “Milk and dairy provide nine essential nutrients, including three under-consumed nutrients by Americans: vitamin D, calcium and potassium,” adds Amidor. “It's very difficult to obtain the same nutrients packed in a glass of skim milk for 90 calories!” Worried you're having trouble digesting milk and dairy? Get tested for lactose intolerance, but dont' cut out dairy altogether. “Both the National Institutes of Health and National Medical Association expert panels agree that people with lactose intolerance should still get the recommended three servings of dairy every day,” says Amidor. “Opt for lower-lactose foods like Greek yogurt and lactose-free choices, such as those from Fairlife or Lactaid.”
Forget It: Drink so much water you have to pee every hour.
Water is key for good health — after all, about 60 percent of your body is H2O. But too much is, well, too much. And it can even lead to water intoxication, a scary condition that can put your life at risk. “Is drinking this much water something that is making you feel great, or is it distracting you from living a full life?” asks Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, a nutrition and weight loss expert in New York City. “If the latter, it’s probably time to rethink this strategy.” Drink enough water — which is typically 11.5 cups for women, per recommendations from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. You may need more fluid, particularly the kind with electrolytes (like a sports drink or coconut water), if you’re doing exercise that makes you sweat.
Forget It: Follow “lazy” keto.
This spin on the ketogenic diet is meant to be easier because it doesn’t mandate that you have to track anything but your carbohydrate intake. But not tracking macros makes it more difficult to put and keep your body in ketosis, plus it is strict, mandating you eat no more than 20 grams of carbs daily. “It seems really hard to follow,” says Maya Feller, RD, a dietitian in Brooklyn, NY. “One medium banana has about 27 grams of carbohydrates, and we haven't even outlined carbohydrates in grains. So most fruits would be completely off the table or only able to be consumed in minuscule amounts. Grains and beans would also need to be removed, leaving the dieter with minimal amounts of non-starchy vegetables and the majority of her diet as fats and animal proteins.” That means cake tastings will be a no go!
If you’re thinking of following regular keto, know that long-term research on weight loss from the ketogenic diet is slim and that you may gain weight back when you return to normal eating habits. If you’re determined to try this type of diet, one study in Nutrients shows that brief periods of a ketogenic Mediterranean diet, cycled with longer periods of the Mediterranean diet, may help obese adults keep the weight off. A good idea in any case: working with a registered dietitian to effectively implement such a plan in the healthiest way possible.
Forget It: Visit a phenteremine clinic.
Let’s be clear: This is a horrible idea. Yet phenteremine, an amphetamine-like prescription intended to suppress appetite, is becoming increasingly popular in bride-to-be circles. “Phentermine is a psychostimulant that increases heart rate and blood pressure,” explains Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. “It decreases appetite, so people who lose weight on it are also exercising and eating significantly fewer calories. It's not a magic pill and comes with a long list of side effects such as dizziness, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea — and in rarer cases, depression, heart or lung problems, tremors or psychosis. Plus, you might experience a potential false positive result on a drug test if you are subject to those at your place of employment.”
So please discard this idea! “Weight-loss drugs are not the answer for someone who does not have major medical problems related to their weight,” says Harris-Pincus. Plus, because you’re not learning sustainable ways to eat healthier, you’re at risk for regaining the weight once you stop taking the drug.
So What Should You Do?
There’s no such thing as magical, lightning-fast weight-loss that’s also healthy. And if you lose weight in an unhealthy way, chances are you didn’t learn lasting habits that are going to help you keep the weight off in the long run — plus, you might do lasting harm to your body.
Your best bet? Take your time with your weight loss, and be kind to yourself in the process. Even if your wedding is around the corner, wouldn’t you be rather be happy and a few pounds heavier than miserable and hangry with possible long-lasting health consequences? “Losing weight in a sane and sustainable way isn’t a race,” says Cassetty. “You may need to ease into new, healthy habits.” She recommends a balanced eating plan focused on replacing processed foods with whole, natural ones, and embracing generous servings of veggies. Aim to incorporate fruit or veggies at every meal, along with a protein source (such as chicken breast, salmon, tofu, or beans), a small serving of healthy fat (like a quarter of an avocado, a teaspoon or two of olive oil, two tablespoons of nuts, or a dozen or so olives), and some whole grains (such as whole-grain bread, brown rice, or quinoa). You’ll feel full and satisfied. If you’re seeking a structured weight-loss plan or even just support, meet with a registered dietitian nutritionist.
One lasting thought: “It’s worth remembering that you’re loved just the way you are,” says Cassetty. “After all, someone just told you they want to spend the rest of their life with you, and your weight was not a factor in that decision.”
Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including EverydayHealth.com, NBCNews.com, Runner’s World, and more. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.