They lure people in because they are different or extreme and they often promise quick results. They see quick results as they miss whole food groups out of the diet which leads to less calories consumed. These diets often lack essential nutrients that are needed for health e.g. calcium, iron, B12.
Unless you have a food intolerance or a medical reason then there is no need to cut certain foods out of your diet. You body will stay in good shape and look after its self if you are giving it everything it needs from a healthy balanced diet.
Here are 10 popular fad diets and why it is not a good idea to follow them!
1. The Cabbage Soup Diet
This is a short term diet plan for 7 days, mainly consisting of lots of low calorie cabbage soup! You start the week with just cabbage soup and fruit and slowly over the 7 days add more foods. Of course you are going to lose weight as cabbage soup is low in calories. It is a short fix as if you kept on eating like this as you would become deficient in protein and minerals such as iron, B12, zinc and selenium! Watch you bowels as this sudden increase in fibre can lead to increased bowel movements and wind…
2. The Grapefruit diet
Eat half a grapefruit before every meal to help lose weight. Supporters of the diet believe that the grapefruit has a fat burning enzyme that will help burn fat quicker. Versions of this diet have been around since the 1930’s and generally go with a very low calorie diet (which is why you lose weight!). A good way to get some extra fruit in your diet, but be careful as grapefruit can interfere with certain medication (check with your pharmacist).
3. Drinking your own urine
In 1913 a naturopath John Armstrong first prescribed urine therapy to his patients after treating his own ill health with a 45 day fast of water and urine… Throughout time people have believed drinking their own urine has provided health benefits, but there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims… Surely there is a reason your kidney has expelled this waste product out of your body…?!?
4. The Alkaline diet
Eat foods that are alkaline rather than acid as this will lead to weight loss and better health. Our bodies are very clever and like to keep our bodies and blood at a specific pH for good health. Any changes and your body has mechanisms to ensure it stays at the correct pH. Food can not change this pH, only serious illness will and in this case you will need medical treatment ASAP. The diet may help you to lose weight as certain foods are restricted that are high in calories (soda and energy drinks, pastries, cheese, chocolate, alcohol) and plenty of fruit and veg are encouraged.
5. The Master Cleanse / Lemon juice diet
Promoted by celebrities, this is a juice detox diet. The recipe is lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Drink 6-12 glasses per day and then take a laxative before bed (eek!). Yes you will flush your bowels out, but it doesn’t detox your body of toxins. That is the job of your liver and kidneys and they do a great job (if they are healthy). Taken to extreme this could be dangerous leading to electrolyte imbalance and dehydration. Stay well clear of this one!
6. The Blood type diet
Eat a diet plan according to your blood type and you will digest your food more efficiently, lose weight, have more energy and help prevent disease. Sounds great, but there is a lack of evidence in the literature that these diets result in better health outcomes. You will probably lose weight on these diets as different foods are restricted in different blood group diets, so ultimately the diet will be lower in calories.
7. Negative calorie diet
A negative calorie food is a food that burns more calories (being eaten and digested) than they contain. Unfortunately the list of foods claiming to have this property is only fruit and vegetables… Yes we should all be eating more fruit and veg for health, but fruit and veg on their own will lead you to be deficient in protein and many other vitamins and minerals.
8. The Coconut Diet
Adding 2-3 tablespoons of pure coconut oil to normal food will cause fat to be metabolised faster and bring about rapid weight loss. The science behind these claims are poor, either poor sample sizes or the studies were based on MCT oil which has a different fatty acid composition to coconut oil. Coconut oil is a saturated fat so use sparing like butter.
9. The Raw Food Diet
The belief that heating food destroys its nutrients and natural enzymes, so no cooking! Food can be heated, but not above ~40 degrees celsius. Raw veg and fruit, raw milk and sashimi are included. Be-careful as there is an increased risk of food poising in unpasteurised diary and uncooked meat, some pulses and beans are toxic if not soaked and cooked. Care should be taken that the diet is not short in certain vitamins and minerals and that your bowels don’t suffer from the increase in uncooked fibre!
10. Bullet proof coffee
Start the day off with a coffee with an added 1-2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of MCT oil… eek, I say no more…!
So if the diet seems too good to be true or wild and wacky, then give it a wide birth. It may give you quick results, but it is not teaching you about long term healthy eating and often the weight will just bounce back on again. In extreme cases it could lead to nutritional deficiencies which is detrimental to your health and well being. Just make small sustainable changes when striving for a healthy diet. If you are motivated to choose a quick fix diet then you should be motivated to make changes in your diet to make it more healthy.
Fad diets don’t work!