Are Diet Fads Healthy? Experts Say A ‘Diet’ Shouldn’t Feel Like One
Merriam-Webster has multiple different meanings for the term ‘diet’. But there are a couple of them that stood out for us – ‘habitual nourishment’ and ‘a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight’.
While your diet is something that helps fuel yourself on a daily basis, over the years, the term has picked up another meaning – similar to the latter description on the dictionary. No wonder it’s so confusing! But fret not as we note some of the most popular diet fads and if they work sustainably.
Enlisting Most Popular Diet Fads
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Originally developed in the 1970s by cardiologist Robert Atkins, the diet recommends the number of carbs to consume based on your weight-loss objectives. Atkins may help you shed some kilos, but it’s hard to follow the rules over the lifespan.
The diet fad also restricts a number of healthy plant-based foods – a regimen that could eventually trigger a worrying deficiency of essential vitamins, minerals and fibre in your body. Therefore, don’t just directly hop onto the trend bandwagon. Take a break and examine the facts.
Raw Food Diet
While this diet fad has been around since the 1800s, it tends to resurface every now and then. The rules here allow you to only eat food in their raw state – implying nothing should be cooked above 47.78 degrees Celsius. Without heat, is the plan actually healthy then?
Some versions are completely vegan, but others include dairy and raw eggs. While proponents of the raw food diet fad believe temperatures above that level destroy an ingredient’s natural enzymes, dietitians worry about the risk of foodborne illness.
This plan has already had its fair share of controversies. It restricts carbohydrates to just 25 total grams of carbs per day. People following the regimen are instructed to rely on moderate levels of protein and higher amounts of fat to bridge the gap left by those omitted carbs.
While the keto diet could help you lose some weight in the short term, it’s immensely difficult to follow such a restrictive plan for a longer duration. Moreover, the diet is also associated with some serious health risks, including low blood pressure, nutrient deficiencies and kidney stones.
It involves normal consumption for five days per week and fasting for the other two days. You’re allowed to take in up to about 600 calories total on the two non-consecutive fasting days. But is it a sustainable diet plan in the long term and does it provide enough fuel for your brain?
Experts say ‘No’. The 5:2 diet fad certainly has some positive results to boast about, but it isn’t suitable for busy and active people, anyone who is growing or parents who need to keep up with their children. Moreover, there is a high chance you might overeat on non-fasting days.
It promotes consuming food like our ancestors. Processed foods, sweetened drinks, dairy, grains and sugar are off the table. Instead, you must consume whole foods like grass-fed eggs and meat, plus fish, fruits, nonstarchy vegetables, nuts, seeds and oils.
The plan might look a bit more sustainable than the other entries to this list as it promotes a wider selection of foods. But some dietitians don’t see a reason to avoid grains, legumes or dairy – unless you are allergic or intolerant.