Why Fad Diets Will Not Work and are Unsafe

  • Usman 

Obesity is a problem that is raging like a pandemic. Most people go about to lose weight but end up getting frustrated with no or slow results. This is one of the reasons why they end up pursuing an alternative approach as a quick way to see some improvement in the way they look.

As our waistlines are getting thicker and thicker, we are looking for quick fixes to battle the unwanted bulges around the clock. Which is sane because who doesn’t want to lose weight overnight?

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When we talk about a quick fix, we’re lead to fad diets. Fad diets are visible everywhere, thanks to social media. But, here’s what we’re here to figure out – What they are and what they do? Do these diets work? Are they causing you more harm than good?

We’ll begin with the basics of it.

What is a Fad Diet?

Initially, the terms food faddism and fad diet applied to idiosyncratic lifestyles and habits of consumption. There is no clear definition of a fad diet. However, it is any diet that does not conform to fundamental standards for good health and promises simple, rapid weight loss.

In general, fad diets facilitate short-term weight loss, without regard for long-term weight management, and gain fleeting success. In past years, trendy nutritionists have endorsed this concept to condemn ideas that oppose traditional norms, notably low carb diets.

These diets are often very restrictive and suggest the exclusion of a certain food group or foods for you to lose weight. So, these diets allow you to keep your favorite junk in your diet while focusing more on your physical activities as well as modifying your eating behavior.

Fad diets examples

We’re going to explore the claims of four most popular fad diets so you’re able to make informed decisions regarding your health –

  • Juice Cleanse

The Juice Cleanse diet has typically been marketed towards individuals looking to detox their bodies and lose weight. As the name suggests, this diet is restricted to drinking juices up to eight times a day and often lasts about three days.

Impressive claims such as saturating the body with nutrients and antioxidants as well as sustained weight loss have added to the diet’s popularity. Fruits and vegetables based juices indeed contain countless vitamins and minerals, but were you aware that your body detoxifies itself naturally?

So, consuming calories from a liquid diet has no impact on this process. These drinks are also very high in sugar with containing up to two times the daily recommended sugar intake. Increases sugar has been linked to weight gain and puts you at a higher risk for diseases like diabetes and coronary heart diseases.

Besides, juice cleanses often provide less than 1000 calories a day. While the calorie deficit does lead to a temporary weight loss, the loss will not be sustained over long periods.

Low-calorie diets are associated with high levels of cortisol which, is linked with stress and prevents weight loss. These diets are often lacking in protein and fat, which are vital for normal bodily functions like maintaining muscle mass and insulation.

  • Veganism

Although typically associated with ethical or environmental concerns, veganism has recently surged in popularity as a way to shed the extra pounds. Consuming a vegan diet means 100% avoiding meat and other animal by-products, including eggs, milk, and cheese.

One of the prime sources of concern for eating a vegan diet is obtaining an appropriate amount of protein. Insufficient protein leads to a decrease in muscle mass and functionality. Many protein alternatives, like vegan meat or cheese, can be high in sodium calories and fat.

This should not be considered a long-term protein replacement. Weight loss associated with eating vegan is okay if careful considerations are taken to ensure that they don’t compensate with high-calorie carbs and fats.

Some individuals report feeling lethargic when switching to veganism due to a vitamin B12 deficiency. It’s a vitamin that can only be obtained through animal byproducts. However, taking a vitamin will resolve tiredness.

  • Intermittent Fasting

This popular diet involves cycling between a fasting stage and a non-fasting stage. The most widespread intermittent fasting schedule requires fasting for 16 hours and then only consuming food within an 8-hour window.

However, this schedule can vary among individuals. This diet claims that it’s worthwhile for losing weight and improves overall health, including a fast metabolism and delaying the onset of diseases. Fasting, in general, has been shown to reduce the risk of heart diseases.

During fasting periods, ketones are released into the bloodstream which, has been shown to help memory and learning as well as preventing any progression in brain diseases and mental illness.

Intermittent fasting has been linked to weight loss due to the body’s use of fat instead of carbs as its primary energy source. However, this diet may encourage extreme behaviors like binge eating, which can result in an increased amount of calories being consumed during the non-fasting period. This would counteract the effects of intermittent fasting and result in fat accumulation.

  • Atkins 20 diet

The final diet we’re going to talk about has been around for a long time and claims that you will not only lose weight without exercise but also never feel hungry on it is Atkins. This diet involves consuming meals that are restricted to carbohydrates and high in proteins.

Diets high in protein have been linked with increased satiety which, means that one automatically reduces the amount of food consumed in a day. Evidence suggests that diets high in protein result in decreased weight and fat loss. However, once carbs are reintroduced to your diet, there is a high chance that you will gain back the weight you initially lost.

Why fad diets do not work?

Every year, millions of people embrace new trendy diets to lose weight. Whether it’s the Atkins, Juice Cleanse diet or the Paleo diet, there always seems to be a new diet plan that will help you lose weight with little to no effort or exercise.

But with these miracle fixes, one out of three adults is harming themselves. So, why do we keep falling for the fad diet run around? Trying to compete is one of the reasons. Many men and women are influenced not only by the images on social media but also by their peers.

Rates of plastic surgery and liposuction are growing every year and many people just cannot keep up. Pressure from friends or colleagues can reach a boiling point and many adults feel like they need to lose a lot of weight very quickly. They often turn to fad diets to drop the weight.

Many people find that fad diets are alluring. Either no effort is required, or you have to ‘suffer’ for a short period to be ‘beautiful’ again. They can tough it out for that kind of reward, right? But, what many people don’t realize is that there are serious side effects of fad diets on the body and how on/off diets can actually lead to weight gain.

Now coming to the question, why don’t fad diets work? Most of these diets may actually work for the short term, but what most people don’t see is that once they’re off the diet, they begin to regain the weight with a vengeance.

A starving body will soak up and hold on to any calories it receives. The worst bit is that, in the future, your body will hold on much tighter to the weight put on after the fad diet.

Many diets manipulate your body’s hormonal or chemical balance to achieve quick superficial results. However, shifting your body’s hormone and chemical balance can actually have long term health effects.

Which is why you should talk to your doctor about any health risks involved. Moreover, when you start taking out important food groups, not only is it unhealthy and unbalanced, but it can actually have an effect on your growth and development.

Each of the food groups, carbs, proteins, fruit and vegetables, dairy, and fats are essential in providing you with energy and protein, vitamins and minerals to cater to the requirements of your body.

We need some from each group every day. When you’re eating a restrictive diet, then something will be compromised. The food groups, when eaten together as a balanced diet, complement each other to carry out functions of the body.

The promoters of these fad diets know this and try to compensate for this by offering expensive supplements. These supplements are to make up for the nutrients you’re missing by following these diets.

At the end of the day, these diets are not only unhealthy for your body, but for your mind as well. As you start to follow a restrictive diet, you will lose weight. However, it’s also been the case that most people get fed up and go back to overeating or old habits. Hence they gain double the amount of weight they previously began with.

Without a change of lifestyle and a fundamental shift in your attitude towards food, any diet will only work if you are strictly following its rules. The only way to lose weight is to adopt a completely different healthy lifestyle that balances food, exercise, and plenty of rest.

Fad diets safety issues

One of the safety issues of fad diets is that these diets do not promote long-term healthy lifestyles among people. They provide quick solutions to anyone willing to put up with a few days of a pattern.

If we generally observe the world today and just talk about teenagers on social media, we will observe how idealization can be way more harmful than we deem. Fad diets are mostly marketed by popular Instagramers, which are followed by millions of teenagers.

Hence, teenagers who suffer from obesity will be lured into trying out diets that will leave an impact on their growth and development. The effect will be due to the compromise of a food group.

Proof that fad diets achieve successful weight loss is also missing. Most notably, fad diets commonly neglect or disprove what is known about the rudimentary ties between eating habits and human health.

In general, adolescent dieting and disordered eating habits escalate in prevalence with age and are more common among girls. Girls that are overweight or unhappy with their bodies are more prone to under-eating and are often more inclined to indulge in unhealthy behaviors to lose weight.

As per an American study, compared with 50% of overweight girls and 55% of obese girls, 36% of average weight girls were dieting. Body image bias is popular among teenagers who sometimes feel ‘fat’ even at an ideal weight.

Seeing all these diets on social media can be confusing and overwhelming not just for girls but for boys too, as these diets claim to do wonders for your body. It’s important to stay informed and understand the two sides of each diet mentioned. Even though there are numerous fad diets, it’s better to consult a proper nutritionist before getting into something you might regret later. You need to follow a science backed, safe and proven strategy for weight loss.

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Muhammad Usman

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