Analysis of FAD Diets

“If I lose 10 pounds in the coming two weeks, I’d have achieved the goal I set last New Year.” Time to exit fantasyland!

The concept of the “quick fix” is central to all fad diets. As is the notion that a change in our bodies can only result from a radical change in how we eat.

The word “diet” originally comes from the Greek diata, which means manner of living. It means making sustained, long-term dietary improvements to get results that last. It is no wonder, why so many diets are traps to gaining the weight right back.

And remember, any diet that sounds crazy or unrealistic… probably is. So next time there is a new ‘best way to shed off extra pounds’, think if it really can work for you!

Now for a quick run-through of seven of the most popular diet fads with an outline of what each involves… then you can give the final verdict.

THE ATKINS DIET

AN OVERVIEW

This is probably the most well-known low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. This diet claims that you can eat all the protein and fat that you care to and still lose weight. The prime consideration is to cut down on carbohydrates to lose weight.

WHAT HAPPENS WITH THIS DIET

Initial weight loss is rapid, but is not always sustainable.
Large intake of foods high in saturated fats and proteins puts a strain on the kidneys and liver.
Giving up or severely restricting carbohydrates does not provide the body with a nutritional balance.

AN ANALYSIS

Let’s take a look at what happens when you consume a high-protein diet, such as this. Protein is acidic, so your kidneys tap into your body’s calcium reserves to balance this acidity. If there is not enough calcium in your blood, it will be pulled out from your bones, resulting in osteoporosis.

Also, if such an imbalanced diet is maintained, the body soon reverts to a fasting state called ketosis, in which the body begins to metabolize muscle tissue instead of fat. This state of deliberately inducing ketosis can lead to muscle breakdown, dehydration, headaches and kidney problems.

Weight is lost due to loss of water and muscle; once you stop this diet the lost weight can return quickly.

THE ZONE DIET

AN OVERVIEW

This is a meal plan designed to include 40 percent of its calories from carbohydrates, 30 from proteins and 30 from fat. All meals and snacks are to follow this 40-30-30 distribution ratio. It is believed that following this eating pattern causes the body to work within its peak performance “Zone” for maximum energy and weight loss.

WHAT HAPPENS WITH THIS DIET

Weight loss is steady and consistent.
You need to carefully plan each meal so as to be in the “Zone” all the time.
It is time-consuming as you need to eat six meals a day.
This diet does not advocate exercise.

AN ANALYSIS

The diet is low in carbohydrates and high in protein. The ideal carbohydrate intake should be about 55 to 60 per cent and protein intake about 12 to 15 per cent. A low-carbohydrate consumption can sap your energy levels. In addition, this diet is low in fiber and not nutritionally balanced due to drastic reduction in foods such as breads and pasta. Also, figuring out how to perfectly formulate each meal into a 40-30-30 ratio can be quite a nerve wrecking experience!

LOW-FAT DIETS

AN OVERVIEW

Low-fat diets usually result in intake of high-carbohydrate consumption. People on these diets usually over consume low-fat products. Often, low-fat foods are high in sugar levels and consist of excess calories.

WHAT IT DOES

Very low-fat consumption can be associated with malnourishment, low functional capacity, low energy expenditure and increased risk of osteoporosis.

AN ANALYSIS

In many ways, we have become obsessed with fat consumption in order to lose weight. Very often, fat is eliminated from the diet or reduced to very low intake levels. While high-fat consumption is a major cause of weight gain, a drastic reduction can have its own drawbacks. Some of the healthiest weight loss plans advocate moderate levels of fat intake. This is because fats are essential to the body, as they assist in energy production, improve immune function, are responsible for healthy skin and hair, besides being needed for the manufacture of essential hormones.

FOOD COMBINING DIET

AN OVERVIEW

These diets claim that certain foods should not be combined in the same meal because this interferes with proper digestion. The idea is that when foods are combined inappropriately, they cannot be absorbed in the intestinal tract. And weight gain is a result of eating patterns, not excess calorie intake.
This food plan encourages you to eat 60 to 70 percent of fruits and vegetables, the other 30 to 40 percent should consist of starch such as rice, breads or pasta and minimal amounts of animal protein. Dairy products are discouraged.

WHAT IT DOES

Weight loss is mainly due to the high intake of low-calorie foods.
Eating large amounts of fruits and vegetables increases fiber intake, reduces cholesterol levels and promotes health.

AN ANALYSIS

The good part of this food plan is that it encourages you to eat healthy foods. But cutting down on dairy products can cause deficiencies in nutrients such as protein, calcium, Vitamins D and B12. Besides, the concept of combining foods is still controversial. If a regular diet is maintained with an increase in fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals and dairy products, chances of nutritional imbalances are decreased and you still will lose weight as a result of the high consumption of fiber-rich foods.

CABBAGE SOUP DIET

AN OVERVIEW

This 7-day diet plan encourages you to eat as much cabbage soup as you can. The food options vary, but primarily include low-calorie vegetables like cabbage, onions and tomatoes.

WHAT IT DOES

You will lose weight quickly with this diet. It advocates weight loss as much as 10 to 15 pounds in seven days.
You can eat the prescribed foods to your fill.

AN ANALYSIS

This dangerously low-calorie diet can leave you feeling light-headed and weak. It is too low in complex carbohydrates, proteins, fats, Vitamins and minerals. And when you restart regular eating habits, you will eventually gain the weight you would have lost with this diet.

GRAPEFRUIT DIET

AN OVERVIEW

There are several versions of this diet. All of them require that you eat half a grapefruit before each meal. The idea behind this diet is to induce natural fat burning enzymes that are supposedly found in grapefruits. Calories typically consumed are limited to less than 800 per day.

WHAT IT DOES

Grapefruit has no fat, it is low in calories and sodium and high in Vitamin C.
This plan promotes quick weight loss, mainly due to loss of body water.

AN ANALYSIS

This is a very-low calorie diet and therefore is dangerous to health. It omits important food groups, Vitamins and minerals. Any diet that is so restrictive can prove to be impractical and unsafe in the long run.

HERBAL LIFE DIET

AN OVERVIEW

This is a diet that typically includes a protein drink substituted for two meals a day, along with multivitamins and herbal tablets. This meal plan also recommends one balanced meal each day, with a total intake of about 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day.

WHAT IT DOES

Drinking this protein shake takes away the bother of counting calories and planning balanced food intake.
Weight loss is inevitable because most of the food intake is controlled and pre-packaged.

AN ANALYSIS

Meal replacements provide energy or nutrients as alternatives to regular foods. Even the best-designed products cannot substitute for all the benefits and unknown components of whole foods.

Some herbal life supplements contain the ingredient, sida cordifolia, which is a botanical source of ephedrine alkaloids. It is essential to consult a physician before consuming these products, especially if you have a history of high blood pressure, heart ailments, thyroid problems or diabetes.

HOW TO SPOT “QUICK FIX” OR FAD DIETS

• The diet recommends only one type of food, or elimination of many food types.

• The diets are out of balance, prescribing a daily dietary intake of high protein and fat, or low intake of carbohydrates or fat.

• Promotes “magical” foods to “burn” fat.

• Suggests rapid weight loss of more than 2 pounds a week.

• Fails to encourage physical activity.

• Has a very low-calorie intake of less than 1,200 calories per day.

• Does not warn people with diabetes, high blood pressure, a kidney disorder or other medical conditions to seek medical advice before starting the diet.

FIVE REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD ADOPT A SENSIBLE APPROACH TO EATING

• The goal to lasting and effective weight loss is to lose fat, not water and muscle. The slower you lose weight, the greater the percentage of fat loss there is. The faster you lose the more chances of muscle and water loss.

• Eating gives you the “staying power” to lose weight successfully. Feeling deprived and starved does not.

• Regular food intake helps maintain your metabolism at a higher rate. Metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories.

• Only when your food intake is adequate, it is possible for you to have energy to burn calories through exercise.

• It is essential that your body is properly nourished. Looking healthy, feeling energized and active are all related to balanced and sensible eating habits.

HOLLYWOOD: FAD DIET MANIA AND WEIGHT LOSS

You’ll never guess what they eat when you watch their svelte bodies saunter down the red carpet. An inside scoop.

• Jennifer Aniston dropped 30 pounds on a high-protein plan.

• Renee Zellweger lost weight on the Zone diet, after gaining 20 po

• unds for her role in Bridget Jones’ Diary. This diet has also attracted celebs like Madonna, Cindy Crawford, Wimona Ryder, Demi Moore, Kristin Davis and Kirstie Alley.

• Catherine Zeta Jones lost her post-pregnancy weight on the Atkins diet.

• Sarah Ferguson went from a size 14 to a size 10 on the low-fat, weight watchers diet.

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