Before you jump on the next trending fad diet, get in here! Many people do not understand the differences between fad diets and healthy eating and how they all function to help you achieve your weight loss of health goals. Many people begin certain diets based on recommendation by friends or relatives or just seeing some visible changes on the people who eat in a particular style. The most important thing to consider in a diet is how nutrient dense or restrictive it is. Your body requires all essential nutrients and supply of the different nutrients in the right amount will help keep the body strong and healthy.
Many people adopt fad diets for weight loss or weight management, however before you begin any diet, look critically if it is sustainable for a long time or if it will make you lack some essential nutrients and cause you to fall ill due to nutrient deficiency or excess of some. Losing weight through a particular diet and stopping it can make you regain your lost weight.
Fad diets are styles of eating that consist of restriction of certain foods or not included at all. Fad diets have grown increasingly popular because many people have adopted the diets for weight loss and it has actually worked for many people. These diets are in different forms which include the following.
This is a very popular low carb diet that was created by a cardiologist Robert Akins in the early 1970s. It begins by a restriction of carbohydrates to 20g per day and unlimited amount of protein and fats so the body converts the fat to ketones and use for energy rather than carbohydrates. Then carbs’ quantity is gradually increased by 5g.
Vegan diet is one which focuses mainly plant foods or whole foods. Those on a vegan diet do not consume animal foods. This diet has been critiqued for not being balanced because of the exclusion of animal foods rich in essential nutrients like protein and healthy fats. However, some people have said it helped them lose weight.
This is another popular fad diet. It is similar to Akins diet. It works by limiting the supply of carbs’ to 50g or less per day while consuming high protein and fats. When the body is starved of carbohydrates, it goes into a state of ketosis where it converts fats to ketones which is used for fuel or energy. The difference between ketogenic diet and Akins diet is that the carbs level is not increased in ketogenic diet. This diet has helped many people achieve their weight loss goals, some people could not stay on the diet for long and stopped, then regained their lost weight. Some developed high cholesterol from the high intake of saturated fats and had to stop.
Paleo diet is a prehistoric kind of diet that includes consuming lean meat, fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fish, but restricts many foods including dairy, legumes and grains. Some have argued that it is not practical and very healthy, however, studies show that those that were on Paleo diet actually experienced weight loss and reduction in blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
The Zone diet
This diet recommends the consumption of a strict ratio of carbohydrates, protein and carbs for optimal health and wellness. It consists of eating 30% lean protein, 30% healthy fats and 40% high fiber carbs which has to be consumed as a prescribed number in snacks and meals. The zone diet has recorded success for weight loss and lowering blood sugar and inflammation according to research and healthline.com
South Beach Diet
This is a diet that believes in carbs’ for fuel and allows you to consume up to 140g of carbs’ per day. It occurs in 3 phases. The first phase recommends cutting out almost all carbs’ including fruits and eating protein, high fiber vegetables, low-fat dairy, unsaturated fats and nuts and seeds. After 2 weeks, you begin the second phase where you begin to consume complex carbs’ like whole grain wheat, brown rice, fruits and more vegetables. You stay in this phase until you achieve you weight loss goals and this ushers you into the third phase which is all about healthy eating based on what you learned from the previous phases. Eating in moderation.
This has to do with eating balanced real food in the right proportion. It totally discourages eating processed foods, high sugar foods or simple carbohydrates, trans fats, artificial sweeteners and flavors. It encourages whole meal nutrition like eating plant based foods and animal foods especially fish. Complex carbs or “right carbs” are required for fuel or energy. This is because the body needs glucose from carbs’ for energy and complex carbs’ can provide the required amount of glucose without raising blood sugar.
Complex carbs’ contain protein and fiber which causes slow release of glucose into the blood stream. Dr Sears recommends whole meal nutrition as the healthiest way to eat. More fruits and vegetables and less Complex carbs and meats but more sea foods. Weight loss can be achieved by eating whole foods in small amount but more frequently so that to supply just the right amount of nutrients the body needs at a time.
Differences between Fad Diets and Healthy Eating
Some people consider they fad diets they choose as healthy because it helped them lose weight and they feel better. Studies have also confirmed these claims. However, it is important to note that most of the fad diets promote restriction of certain valuable nutrients to the body. Vegan diet for instance, restricts the consumption of animal foods which is the only natural source of Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is very crucial in the formation of red blood cells, metabolism, production of DNA and nerve functions.
Ketogenic diet compels your body to go into a biochemically abnormal state called ketosis, using fat for energy rather than the normal carbs for energy which can put a lot of pressure on the liver and may eventually cause damage from wear after a long time.
Paleo diet excludes legumes, dairy and grains which are rich sources of protein, fiber, minerals and antioxidants.
Whole meal nutrition takes away the foods your body does not need like high sugar foods, processed foods, trans fat and artificial sweeteners which causes sticky stuff to build up in the arteries and prevent free flow of blood. It also supplies all the essential nutrients to the body in the right proportion.
Why most fad diets are not Sustainable
Many of these fad diets have helped people achieved short term weight loss goals but was not sustainable for many because it takes joy out of eating with so many restrictions. It can also lead to another health issue due to a deficiency and cause the individual to eventually stop. A low-anything diet often doesn’t taste good, doesn’t last and can be downright unhealthy (Williams and Sears, 2010, Prime Time Health).
It is very important to inform your physician before choosing a diet or style of eating and get professional medical advice based on trusted science based information so you do not end up falling sick while trying to lose weight or stay lean. I also recommend that you read about fad diets and healthy eating before making your choices.