A fad diet is a weight loss plan that promises quick results with only a temporary nutrition change. The word diet originated from the Greek word ‘diata’ which means ‘a way of life’ which encompasses both mental and physical health. Over time however the word’s meaning has changed to ‘restrictive eating’. In other words, depriving yourself of a food or usually an entire food group.
Why are people attracted to fad diets?
The main reason for people following fad diets is because they want to lose weight quickly. The problem with fad diets is that their main emphasis is on losing weight as opposed to overall health. This is often due to weight stigmatization wherein people pass judgments and assume that if someone is not of ideal weight or body type they may be lazy, lack self control and lack the willpower to eat healthily and exercise. If followed at length fad diets can have negative side effects due to their restrictive nature. It makes matters worse when dieting is done for the wrong reasons, such as a way to respond to weight stigmatization.
What are the different fad diets?
People are constantly looking for a quick-fix way to lose weight and there seems to be a new one to follow every few months. This could be a low carbohydrate, high fat or low fat diet. It could even be some of the crazier diets such as the grapefruit diet or cauliflower diet. Shockingly, around the 18th century, there are in fact a cigarette diet which centred around the ability of nicotine to suppress appetite. One of the most popular diets is a low or no-carbohydrate diet which is usually accompanied with a high intake of protein and fat. Examples of these include the Atkins diet, the Dukan diet, the South Beach diet and the grapefruit diet. The reason these diets are so popular is because of the rapid weight loss they cause. This rapid weight loss is due to water loss.
So are they effective?
Fad diets are generally able to achieve short term weight loss. However, this is due to water loss in the body. Chances are once you stop the diet you will experience weight regain as your body is trying to correct the imbalance of water. ‘The Biggest Loser’ built a whole franchise on rapid weight loss. And although the show’s participants managed to lose a lot of weight fast, they found that the majority gained back a significant amount. There were a few issues they discovered that explained this. One was that the muscle that gets broken down as a compensatory mechanism for dieting, was not restored at baseline levels when checked after 6 years. In addition, they found lower levels of the leptin hormone that naturally triggers feelings of fullness in us.
There is no denying that abnormal fat deposits can lead to a number of serious health issues such as osteoarthritis, heart attack and stroke, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, if one cannot maintain the weight loss they cannot keep the risk of these diseases away.
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This article was written by our dietitian and nutritionist Juhi Bhambhaney. If you have any questions regarding health and nutrition, make an appointment with one of our dietitians. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.