People’s opinions on diets, as well as government health recommendations, seem to change all the time. Yet adverts routinely appear claiming to know the answer to what we should eat. So how do we distinguish between what is actually healthy for us and what ads want us to believe?

These ads take advantage of everyone’s desire to drop weight fast or gain muscle and become lean quickly, usually within the space of a few weeks. However these are exactly what they seem, too god to be true.

Fad diets have been around for years, so if they have been around for so long, could this mean they work? In the short term, yes.  Low carb plans such as the Atkins diet, have an initial diuretic effect, where sodium is lost until the body can balance itself out and temporary fluid weight loss may occur. High protein diets initially work as you are overall dropping your calorie intake, however your body then lowers its metabolic rate, lessoning the diets effect over time and often reversing the effects if the diet is abandoned.

So how do we spot fad diets?

If a diet plan focuses on intensely cutting back calories or on cutting back entire food groups, like fat, sugars or carbs, chances are it’s a fad diet.

Another key point to look out for is ritual. If a diet requires you to only eat specific foods or food substitutes, such as shakes, powders or bars it’s likely a fad diet.

So what should I do?

The truth is, there are no quick fixes for weight loss. The fact is, you cannot go wrong with the simple formula of fewer calories in and more calories out, basically eat less, move more. If that doesn’t work then there may be some common mistakes you’re still making.

For example underestimating how many calories you consume a day. An easy way to find out how many calories you’re consuming is by using a calorie counting app on your phone. One app I recommend to all my clients is myfitnesspal, which is able to give the number of calories you consume as well as the amount of macro nutrients you’re eating per day.

And then?

Another common mistake is doing long tedious exercise. In today’s world, time is money so most people don’t have the hours in the day to put aside for long cardio, plus it can be repetitive and boring for most, so why not try HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training). Not only does it burn calories and promote muscle growth, but it can achieve this in half the time as traditional cardio.

And finally, quite obviously, booking in with a qualified personal trainer is the best way to make the most of your time working out – they ensure you’re always challenged and staying in that “progress zone”.