Fad diets-What’s wrong with them?

Fad diets

Dieting is an age old way to lose weight but is fad diet the best way to lose those extra kilos?

When you want to lose weight fast, there is just one question on your mind... What works fast? Many of us are struggling to lose weight fast. Many of us want to shed those extra pounds so that we look and feel good for that special function or occasion and we want to fit into our old clothes. If any of these cases are true then we go on a spree to find that perfect diet plan that works wonders for us. It can be confusing in today's weight loss world to find that perfect product or that diet plan that works fast.

One of the most common diet plans are the fad diets. These kinds of diets are all over the place with things such as detox diet, grapefruit diet and cabbage soup diet which promise instant weight loss. Some of the more common ones are The Atkins diet, Zone diet, Blood group diet, the three day diet etc. Older diets tend to fall out of fashion and get replaced by newer ones.

Here is a list of some common fad diets and their ill effects on the body:

Atkins Diet: One of the most popular fad diets of all time, it was introduced by Dr Atkins. It recommends low carbohydrate and high protein intake. It comprises of four phases –Induction, Ongoing Weight Loss, Pre-Maintenance and Lifetime Maintenance, all with a carefully controlled level of carbohydrate intake. Fat and protein foods like meat, cheese and egg are recommended while carbohydrates like pasta, bread and sugar are restricted in Atkins Diet.

Why it’s not so good for you:  Carbohydrates are needed by the body to regulate protein and fat and to maintain adequate functioning of the brain. Lack of carbohydrate puts the body in a state of ketosis (accumulation of excessive amounts of ketone bodies in body due to incomplete metabolism of fat). Much of the weight loss while following this diet comes from fluid loss which puts additional load on the kidneys.

Zone Diet: The diet given by Dr Barry Sears recommends an intake of 40% of calories from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, and 30% from fats. According to Dr Sears, this ratio allows the body to achieve a hormonal balance. Food items like chicken breast, egg whites, fish, most sea foods, mushrooms, tofu, vegetables, and fruits are recommended and food items like potatoes, bananas, white bread, pasta and sugar are restricted.

Why it’s not so good for you:  Within each group there are certain foods you need to eat and certain items you need to avoid. Elimination of certain foods can lead to poor intake of vitamins and minerals which in the long run affect your metabolism and immune function.

Cabbage Soup Diet: This is a seven days diet which allows eating as much cabbage soup as you want along with a few select foods like fresh fruits, brown rice, banana, baked potato, skim milk, beef, tomatoes, which vary depending on the day. This diet promises that you’ll lose 10 pounds weight loss in one week.

Why it may not be so good:  The major part of the weight loss from such diet comes from muscle mass and water instead of fat loss.

The GM diet: GM diet is a weight loss management plan developed by the General Motors Corporation to help keep their employees stay in shape. This diet system involves the consumption of specific foods per day, in contrast to weekly schedules like that of Atkins and South Beach diets. It is among the most popular diet fads practiced by Indians mainly because of its vegetarian attributes and reduced consumption of meat. The GM diet and its unique diet plan help you to reduce close to 25 kg or above in 7 days. Day 1 is all fruits, day 2 is all vegetables, day 3 is mixture of fruits and vegetables, day 4 is banana and milk, day 5 is brown rice, curd and tomatoes, day 6 is brown rice and vegetables and day 7 is brown rice, vegetables and fruits.

Why it may be bad for you:

This is an extreme diet with inclusion of a single or two to three food groups in a day. This diet excludes fats which are also important for bodily functions like lubrication, absorption of fat soluble vitamins etc. The prime focus is on vegetables and fruits. Body cannot sustain itself on the basis of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. The only carbohydrate source is brown rice. Elimination of certain foods can lead to poor intake of nutrients which in the long run harm your metabolism and immune function.

Blood Group Diet: This was designed by Dr Peter D’Adamo, which assigns each blood group a specific diet. According to him, by following a diet designed specifically for your blood type, your body digests and absorbs food more efficiently, with the result that you lose weight.

Why it’s bad for you: Some healthy and nutritious foods are restricted for certain blood groups; this can result in a poor intake of nutrients needed for good health. For example, cutting out dairy products recommended for blood group O will lead to poor intake of calcium.

The three Day Diet: The three Day Diet is one of the most popular fad diets. It is particularly popular among people who try to achieve short-term weight loss. It outlines a strict menu to be followed for three days followed by 4-5 days of normal eating.

Why it’s bad for you: Mostly the weight loss is due to fluid loss. Usually lost weight is gained back when a person resumes normal eating; in fact due to the fact that during those 3 days you eat very less most people tend to gain even more weight when they resume eating normally.

Fad diets cannot replace a well-balanced weight loss plan customized according to individual needs that controls calories, includes exercise and allow a wide variety of healthy foods. Losing too much weight too quickly can affect your health by putting a lot of stress on your internal organs. Then there is also the case where you lose weight rather quickly only to realize that you've put it all back on because ultimately you go back to your old eating habits that caused the weight gain in the first place. So, it is much better to lose weight in the long term by following a healthy and varied meal plan. But before conducting any action to start diet plan it is advisable to consult a medical professional or a dietician.