Fad diets may work for a short time, but the weight will bounce back, along with a host of health issues brought about by the diets. Find out which won't work and what will.
The Gist of It:
- Fad diets simply do not work in the long term and can cause a load of health issues from heart diseases to cancer.
- Have your meals centered around plants (veggies, fruits, beans etc) plus regular exercising will help you shed the pounds more sustainably.
C’mon, admit it – you’ve tried at least one fad diet in your life. Yep, I knew it. It didn’t work, did it? At least not for very long.
Don’t feel too bad. “Miracle” weight-loss plans are almost as tempting as a slice of cheese cake. Those endless advertisements, perky spokespeople, “revolutionary breakthrough” theories and outlandish promises from so-called medical experts are pretty hard to resist.
After all the hype, even sensible people can start to think: “Well, maybe this diet really does work. Maybe I can eat only high-fat, high-calorie foods and still lose weight.”
Unfortunately, not only are most trendy weight-loss schemes too good to be true, they’re also unhealthy and even downright dangerous. We’ve compiled a list of fad diets that only works in the short term, but will not stand the test of time:
1. The Atkins Diet
The high-protein, low-carbohydrate Atkins craze lasted for a while. Newly formulated low-carb foods started hitting the market left and right, and people were eating red meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner – even as a snack.
Although high-protein, low-carb diets may work for a short time, the pounds almost always come back with a vengeance – and bring serious health problems with them. Atkins fell out of favour as more and more health experts expressed concerns about the diet.
According to James Anderson, MD, professor of medicine and clinical nutrition at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in the US, the Atkins diet “is absolutely the worst diet you could imagine for long-term obesity, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. If you wanted to find one diet to ruin your health,
you couldn’t find one worse than Atkins.”
2. High Protein Diets
Like the Atkins diet, the South Beach Diet and the Zone diet consist mainly of high-fat animal-derived products. These high-protein, low-carb diets can cause the body to go into ketosis – a state that occurs when we are seriously ill.
The American Heart Association cautions that “high-protein animal foods are usually also high in saturated fat. Eating large amounts of high-fat foods for a sustained period raises the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and several types of cancer. People who can’t use excess protein effectively may be at higher risk of kidney and liver disorders, and osteoporosis”.
Some animal-derived products are not only high in fat but also loaded with cholesterol. The founder of the South Beach Diet even admitted that he was taking medication to control his cholesterol – not a good sign!
Furthermore, animal-derived products lack complex carbohydrates and fibre – and these nutrients are essential to healthy weight loss. According to the Asian Food Information Centre (AFIC), complex carbohydrates help provide adequate amounts of energy, reduce the insulin demand exerted on the body and ensure adequate consumption of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals, which help promote overall health.
AFIC encourages people to choose carbohydrate-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
3. The Blood-Type Diet
Of course, high-protein, low-carb diets aren’t the only fad diets with serious flaws. The blood-type diet, which was made popular by naturopathic physician Peter J. D’Adamo’s book Eat Right for Your Type, has been criticised by many scientists and health professionals.
According to D’Adamo, people should choose a diet based on their blood type. In other words, people with type A blood should eat a vegetarian diet but people with type O blood should eat lots of meat. Type Bs fall in the middle.
This theory has no scientific basis, and D’Adamo’s “advice” can cause more harm than good.
In “The ‘Blood Type Diet’: Fact or Fiction?” Michael Klaper, MD, writes, “Despite widespread knowledge that many non- Caucasians are intolerant of dairy products, the book recommends that ‘Type B’s of Asian descent may need to incorporate them (dairy products) more slowly into their diets as they
adjust their systems to them.’ I fear that the consequences of this for many lactase-deficient readers will be severe bouts of abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, and possibly more serious conditions, like colitis”.
4 & 5. The Hollywood Diet & The Cabbage Soup Diet
Two other fad diets – the grapefruit diet (also known as the Hollywood diet) and the cabbage soup diet – have come under intense scrutiny.
Although grapefruit is healthy and people who eat citrus fruit along with other healthy foods may indeed lose weight, the grapefruit diet allows people to have bacon and eggs for breakfast and even more meat at lunch. Too much meat is never healthy!
Nor should you rely heavily on one food – such as grapefruit or cabbage soup – for weight loss. While people may temporarily lose weight on the cabbage soup diet, its critics claim that most of the weight lost is water weight and that the diet is not effective for sustained weight loss.
The diet is very restricted, and the soup is extremely high in sodium. Plus, the diet provides almost no protein for days at a time and people on the diet may feel weak and light-headed. As with other dangerous fad diets, the cabbage soup diet includes lots of meat.
Tried and Tested Weight-Loss Plan
If you want to lose weight and be healthy, ignore these doomed fad diets and switch to one high in vegetables and fruits.
Meat and dairy can be high in saturated fat and cholesterol and too much of these can contribute to obesity and other health problems. On the other hand, fruits, vegetables, tofu, beans, whole grains and other plant-based foods are naturally cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat and calories.
Population studies prove that vegetarians are one-third as likely to be obese as meat-eaters and that vegans are about one-tenth as likely to be obese. There are overweight vegans and skinny meat-eaters, of course, but on average, vegans are 10 to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters.
The American Dietetic Association reports: “It is much easier to lose weight on a plant-centered diet than on a meat-centered diet. Many people, when first adopting a vegetarian diet, lose several pounds without trying and without going hungry.”
Renowned nutrition expert Dr T Colin Campbell states: “Quite simply, the more you substitute plant foods for animal foods, the healthier you are likely to be. I now consider veganism [a diet consisting only of plant-based foods] to be the ideal diet.”
“A vegan diet – particularly one that is low in fat – will substantially reduce disease risks. Plus, we’ve seen no disadvantages from veganism.
In every respect, vegans appear to enjoy equal or better health in comparison to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.”
We’re not asking you to adopt veganism, but centre your meals around mostly veggies and fruits, cut down on the meat and dairy, and soon your waistline will melt away and your health will improve. And if you stick to a regular exercise plan, you’ll be in even better shape!
What’s your take on these fad diets? Have you tried any that worked in the long run? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!