FAD DIETS (and why you should avoid them)

Getting slimmer has never been easier, or quicker, if we were to believe every fad diet that comes to the market every week. Seems like every month a new way to quickly burn the excess calories and slim down the inches from the waist and the hips hits the daylight. Whether it is partial starvation through the day, or a severe caloric restriction for most of the week, it seems to be the never waning trend to be on one diet or the other to lose and shift pounds. And yet, globally, we seem to be getting thicker around the waist while at the same time our wallets get thinner.

An important distinction needs to be made between a healthy diet and a ‘fad’ diet. A healthy diet is one where you limit your excess caloric intake whilst making healthy alternative choices to your existing food intake. A fad diet, on the other hand, is a shortcut, and, like all shortcuts in life, doesn’t end very well. Most fad diets require you to do a small little this and a small little that, and voila! You’ll have the inches and the pounds off you in no time. They require you to believe the diet will work magic. The truth is, there is no magic to weight loss. It requires dedication, healthy choices, stamina and acceptance.

Obesity is a pandemic now. Globally, obesity rates have doubled since 1980. According to recent data published by WHO, most of the world’s individuals now live in countries where obesity kills more people than under-nutrition. Of the 7 Billion people in the world, 1.9 Billion are overweight, of which 600 million are obese.

FAD DIETS THAT DON’T WORK

We’ll evaluate step by step some of the most “IT’ diets of the day, and breakdown the reasons why they aren’t as healthy or sustainable as we are made to believe they are.

1. Alkaline diet

Also known as the alkaline ash diet, this particular way of losing weight requires you to cut out caffeine, meat, dairy, processed foods and artificial flavors from your daily intake. the gurus promoting it insist it levels your body pH and hence, regulates metabolism. While it certainly has healthy benefits on the body ( as it encourages increased intake of fruit and veg), our kidneys are more than capable of regulating our body’s pH on their own. There is no evidence that pH alteration results in decrease in body weight. Meat, dairy and complex carbohydrates have a well deserved place on the food pyramid, along with necessary benefits for health. they really shouldn’t be cut out of your diet simply to alter the pH of the body. Our kidneys do a well enough job of it on their own.

 

Cookie Diet

 

The Hollywood Cookie Diet, created by Dr Siegal, promises that eating cookies will help you drop pounds. You eat about 500 to 600 calories a day from high-protein and high-fiber weight-loss cookies for breakfast, lunch, and any snacks, in addition to which you eat a normal dinner, for a total of 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day. The science behind the diet in understandable, as ultimately the result is caloric restriction ( a non pregnant, non breast feeding female requires 1300-1500 kcal/day. For a male, the caloric requirement to maintain a healthy metabolism is 1800-2000kcal/day). But ultimately, severe caloric restriction can not only deprive the body of essential nutrients necessary to maintain normal bodily functions, but can also increase the chance of binge eating unhealthy foods.

THE FIVE-BITE DIET

On this diet, you skip the most important diet of the day – breakfast, and eat only five bites of food for lunch and five bites for dinner. While moderate caloric restriction is the key to healthy weight loss, you still need fuel for the body for the adequate  functioning of vital organs including your heart, liver, kidneys and brain. If you eat only five bites of caloric-rich foods, you will still be nutrient deprived, and headed down an unhealthy lane in terms of nutrition. All successful diets rely on food breaks and treats in between intense periods of dieting. That keeps you on track for your weight loss while at the same time giving your metabolism the boost it needs.

LEMONADE DIET

This diet has been around for decades, and there are a ton of variations. Pretty much all involve subsisting for days on only lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper mixed in water. All you are essentially doing is drinking tons of diuretics. of course you’ll lose a lot of weight. But, since 70% of the body is water, it will mostly be water weight. Once you start eating solid foods again, you will gain all the weight back. This diet also has the added disadvantage of many side effects, including fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and dehydration. Plus, on an extremely low-calorie diet like this one, you are going to lose muscle, exactly the kind of weight you don’t want to lose.

 

WHAT TO DO FOR HEALTHY, EFFECTIVE, LONG TERM WEIGHT LOSS

Losing weight is not easy, and it requires commitment and dedication. A balanced, nutritious, lower calorie diet is the key, with focus being on an ability to maintain the caloric restriction. A partner to lose weight with makes this arduous but important life style change easier to cope with. All healthy diets should be coupled with a minimum of 20 minutes of aerobic exercises ( walking, jogging, weights and cardio to name a few).

It’s natural for anyone trying to lose weight to want to lose it very quickly. But evidence shows that people who lose weight gradually and steadily (about 1 to 2 pounds per week) are more successful at keeping weight off. Healthy weight loss isn’t just about a “diet” or “program”. It’s about an ongoing lifestyle that includes long-term changes in daily eating and exercise habits.

To lose weight, you must use up more calories than you take in. Since one pound equals 3,500 calories, you need to reduce your caloric intake by 500—1000 calories per day to lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Once you’ve achieved a healthy weight, by relying on healthful eating and physical activity most days of the week (about 60—90 minutes, moderate intensity), you are more likely to be successful at keeping the weight off over the long term.

Literature supporting healthy weight loss insists that we replace the unhealthy foods in our diets with healthier alternatives. Peanut butter is a good substitute for regular dairy butter, for example. similarly, brown, unprocessed sugar is a healthier choice to substitute the highly processed white/refined sugar. You can find a detailed insight into healthier alternatives to everyday processed options here.

Dr. Annie

Physician, mom and wife

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