Fad diets are extremely popular for losing weight for they typically promise rapid weight loss and other health benefits, yet often have no scientific evidence supporting their advantages.
While most of the diets aren’t inherently bad for you, any form of extreme restriction can be difficult to maintain thus creating unhealthy mental hangups and behaviors around food.
The diets that work the best are the ones you can actually stick to in the long run.
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You need to be able to incorporate the diet into your existing lifestyle, and that could mean a lot of learning and trial and error.
Strategies like portion control, moderation, and smart substitution are a key for healthy weight loss.
How Easy Is It To Spot a Fad Diet?
Typically, a fad diet has following characteristics:
- Promises a quick fix.
- Promotes ‘magic’ foods or combinations of foods.
- Implies that food can change body chemistry.
- Excludes or severely restricts food groups or nutrients, such as carbohydrates.
- Has rigid rules that focus on weight loss.
A Close Examination of 7 Popular Weight-Loss and Diet Methods
1. Juice Diet
The idea of “detoxifying” juice cleansing is one of the most popular fad diets. Juice diets can vary from substituting one meal with a juice to subsisting entirely on juices for a period of usually three to 10 days. While there are nutritional benefits of juice as it is a fast way to get vitamins and minerals, it is better to eat fruits and vegetables in their whole form.
There is more fiber in whole fruits and vegetables; so when you are juicing, you are throwing away all that nutritious fiber.
A juice fast or diet is a good way to “reset” your body in preparation for a more sustainable weight-loss regimen. In the longer term, though it is perfectly safe and healthy to replace a meal with juice, instead of extracting juice, try blending whole fruits and vegetables into a smoothie or supplementing with fibre-rich foods to help stave off hunger.
2. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is hugely popular nowadays. There are several types of intermittent fasting programs, ranging from 16-hour fasting periods followed by 8 hours of “feeding” to alternating a full day of fasting with a day of normal eating.
Preliminary research has shown that intermittent fasting is beneficial, although some programs require significantly more willpower than others. If you choose to start an intermittent fasting regimen, ease your way in with a less restrictive program like the 16/8 method before you opt for a more extreme variation such as alternate-day fasting.
Some even allow for fasting as your lifestyle permits. Be cautious about regulating your relationship with food, though. If at any point you begin to develop dangerous habits like binging and purging or restricting food for longer periods than the program dictates, stop the diet immediately, and seek help from a professional.
3. Keto Diet
This high-fat, low-carb plan is meant to put the body into a metabolic, fat-burning state known as ketosis. But is this diet sustainable?
Most people are able to do the diet short-term. They are pretty expensive, and if you follow the diet exactly, being able to eat out and sharing food with others can also be difficult. We should remember that it can be dangerous to restrict your carbohydrate intake to such an extreme degree, as our bodies do need at baseline a certain amount of carbs and glucose. So when you are restricting yourself, you can be at risk for certain adverse health events.
4. Carb Cutting
In general, most people over-consume carbohydrates particularly refined carbs, so reducing your carbohydrate intake is generally a good idea. Cutting carbohydrates can be a healthy move (although it can be problematic for people with hypoglycemia).
But some people turn to extreme carb-cutting to lose fat, which has the potential for adverse effects on the body. Before you cut out carbs, focus on getting the best carbs possible. Refined carbohydrates strip out all the nutritional benefits of carbs, like fiber and vitamins.
Opt instead for whole-wheat pasta and bread. If you are willing to take the next step, start substituting rice and pasta with vegetables like zucchini, sweet potato, broccoli and cauliflower. When you do eat carbs, go complex and focus more on quinoa, millet, and brown rice which are absorbed much more slowly than refined grains.
5. The Dukan Diet
The Dukan diet is a high-protein, low-carb weight loss diet. It is a low-calorie diet and can be split into four phases — two weight loss phases and two maintenance phases. Each phase has its own dietary pattern. The weight loss phases are primarily based on eating unlimited high-protein foods and mandatory oat bran.
The other phases involve adding non-starchy vegetables at first, then some carbs and fat. Later on, there will be fewer and fewer “pure protein days” to maintain your new weight. The Dukan diet has not been tested in quality human studies. The diet may cause weight loss, but it also may slow down your metabolism and make you lose muscle mass along with fat mass.
6. The Paleo Diet
The paleo diet claims that modern humans should eat the same foods that their hunter-gatherer ancestors ate, the way humans were genetically designed to eat before agriculture developed. The paleo diet emphasizes whole foods, lean protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds while avoiding processed foods, sugar, dairy and grains.
Some more flexible versions of the paleo diet also allow for dairy like cheese and butter, as well as tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes. The paleo diet eliminates whole grains, legumes and dairy. Therefore, it unnecessarily eliminates several healthy and nutritious food groups.
7. Atkins Diet
This diet plan severely restricts consumption of carbohydrates in the form of bread, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables.
The diet espouses the theory that carbohydrates increase blood sugar levels, releasing insulin. Insulin then prevents fat from breaking down in the body.
The Atkins diet emphasizes foods high in protein; however, foods high in protein may also be high in fat. Too much fat increases “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Additionally, the diet limits or restricts fruits and vegetables, depriving dieters of the fiber essential for digestion. Limiting consumption of many fruits and vegetables also deprives dieters of antioxidants that help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer.
A Balanced Eating Plan
For a balanced eating plan to be successful, you need to:
- Eat plenty of vegetables, legumes and fruits.
- Include lean meat, fish, poultry.
- Include milk, yogurts, cheeses.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Limit saturated fat and moderate total fat intake.
- Limit your alcohol intake, if you choose to drink.
- Consume only moderate amounts of sugars, and food and drinks containing added sugars. In particular, limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
So diet no more..fight the fat! Fad diets are not taking you anywhere. Indulge in a healthy lifestyle and enjoy the bounties of life.
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