Debunking fad diets: 3 popular diets that aren’t all they’re cracked up to be
The revolving door of diet trends is never ending. For years, new diet trends have constantly been popping up promising life changing results, with many of them just being fads. Weight loss journeys can be stressful, and “miracle diets” are only a hurdle that will most likely not provide long-term results. These diets typically fail because they usually have blanket guidelines that are supposed to work for everyone. The reality is, each individual’s weight-loss journey will be different because each body’s needs are different. Enough wasting your time on diet myths. We’re debunking fad diets and some of the most common diet trends to find out how effective they really are.
DEBUNKING FAD DIETS – THE KETOGENIC DIET
The ketogenic diet, better known as the keto diet, has become one of the most popular diets in the world. On the keto diet, your diet consists of “a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat way of eating.” This diet limits carbohydrate intake to only 20 grams per day. The goal of the keto diet is to activate the metabolic process called ketosis. Ketosis causes your body to use fat for energy instead of glucose.
Registered dietician Haley Goodrich explains that a low-carb diet like this can have a negative affect on people.
“When you eat a diet too low in carbohydrate the body produces ketones as a safety mechanism to keep us alive” said Goodrich. Carbs are the body’s most important source of fuel. Without carbs, the brain will seek out more food. This typically leads to dieters regaining the weight they lost, and often more. This is why the keto diet is not realistic for long-term results.
Eating disorder therapist Jennifer Rollin says, “If you restrict carbohydrates, it is far more likely that at some point you will begin over-eating or bingeing on them.” She explained that this could lead to disordered eating or cause an eating disorder. Rollin further also explains that a lack of carbohydrates can have a “detrimental impact” on your mood. Many people trust the keto diet due to its popularity and the amount of research on it. But it’s important to note that not much keto diet research focuses on long-term health effects and weight management.
DEBUNKING FAD DIETS – INTERMITTENT FASTING
Intermittent fasting is a diet technique that requires restricting the hours in which you can eat. Typically, intermittent fasters will give themselves an eight-hour window in which to eat each day. During the eight-hour window, they are free to eat. After the window closes, they don’t eat during the next 16 hours. Some may take it a step further and do a 24-hour fast once or twice a week. There is also “every other day” fasting. This means people will alternate between fasting and feasting days. On feasting days, they will not eat much, while on fasting days they will eat without restrictions.
One of the biggest hurdles with intermittent fasting is sticking to the fast, and overindulging. Dr. Frank Hu, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explained why this is a challenge for those who fast intermittently:
“It’s human nature for people to want to reward themselves after doing very hard work, such as exercise or fasting for a long period of times,” he began. “So there is a danger of indulging in unhealthy dietary habits on non-fasting days.”
Fasting has also been linked to poor sleep, muscle loss and nutritional deficiency. Although research shows that, due to reducing calories consumed, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight, the Heart Institute’s registered dietician Kathleen Turner suggests finding a safer long-term diet plan.
DEBUNKING FAD DIETS – WHOLE30
One of the most restrictive diets out there is the Whole30 diet. This diet is meant to change your relationship with food by cutting out entire food groups. The Whole30 diet challenge restricts grains, dairy, all sugar, alcohol, legumes and starchy vegetables from your diet for a full month. The point of this diet is to essentially train yourself from craving these types of food.
Nutrition expert Edye Wagner, MBA, says this diet is best done with guided help from a dietician and a physician. This diet poses great risks because a lot of the food groups that are restricted are very healthy and necessary for the body. “Off-limit” diets like this also have a negative health on dieters’ mental health. The pressure to stay away from specific foods can cause increased feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame. A panel of nutrition experts ranked this diet as one of the worst on U.S. News and World Report’s annual diet list. They described it as extreme and the worst for healthy eating.
Falling for fad diets can be very easy. Before trying a new diet trend, do your research and make sure overall health is a priority over weight loss. Don’t waste your time on quick-fix diets. Find a long term diet plan to get results that will last.