4 Reasons Why You Should Avoid a Fad Diet

Dec 2015

4 mins read

There are no short-cuts to success. If you want to lose weight, you will have to work hard to see results. A crash diet or a quick weight loss programme might be tempting, but you will realise that fad diets can be detrimental to your health, physically as well as mentally. Let’s find out how a fad diet can do more harm than good:

1. Risk of nutritional deficiency

Nutritional defeciency

If you are not taking in the right nutrients or not enough of them due to the restrictions out in place from a fad diet, you can be at risk of nutritional deficiency. This in turn can lead to different health issues, such as anaemia, depression, iron deficiency and bone diseases like osteoporosis, to name a few.

2. Risk of being trapped in a diet cycle

The worst thing that can ever happen when you are following a fad diet is to get trapped in a “yo-yo” diet cycle. This is where you stick with the diet plan until you reach your target weight, and then abandon it altogether. Even worse, this is usually done with severe calorie restriction, which is ultimately setting you up for failure. In order to see long term health benefits and avoid getting trapped in this diet cycle, you will need to make sustainable lifestyle changes as opposed to sticking with temporary plans that are simply a quick fix.

3. Risk of gaining even more weight

Weight gain

When you follow a fad diet and then go back to your old pattern of eating, you are at risk of gaining more weight. People on fad diets tend to crave carbohydrates, fats and other nutrients or foods they have “eliminated” from their eating plans. It can be effective in losing weight rapidly, but when you go back to your old pattern or normal eating, the weight will pile back on, and usually more weight will be gained than originally lost.

4. Risk of eating disorder

If you are obsessed with dieting and calorie counting, you may put yourself at risk of developing an eating disorder. This preoccupation with food can mean you develop an unhealthy relationship with your eating habits, which could result in long-term over or under eating, and subsequently, damage your health.

What it means to be obese?

The World Health Organisation has defined obesity as an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that can impair your health. Obesity is on the rise and it has doubled since 1980. It is considered to be the 5th leading risk for global death. Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, infertility, asthma, snoring can be some of the consequences of being overweight.

Let’s look at some of the common fad diets:

Atkins diet

Atkins diet

The Atkins diet was very popular a couple of years ago. This diet encourages you to keep your carbohydrate intake very low. However, if your body does not get the glucose it requires, it will burn your ketones for energy. This process is known as ketosis. This tends to cause headaches, tiredness, mood swings and irritability.

People on this diet tend to crave carbohydrates. It can be effective in losing weight rapidly, but when you go back to your old pattern of eating, you will put the weight back on quite quickly.

Paleo diet

Paleo diet

This diet aims to eat like how our ancestors did; it is based on the hunter-gatherer diet. There is no room for processed food like sodas, fast food, sugars, grains, beans and dairy if you follow the paleo diet. People opting for this diet, thrive only on fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts and wild meat.

However, there are some who follow the paleo lifestyle and they make sure to adopt a nutrient-rich diet. If this diet is followed correctly, it can be potentially healthy. Though the paleo diet claims to be more in line with cancer prevention guidelines than other low carb diets, it specifically allows red meat and excludes grains. This contradicts cancer prevention guidelines, which promote grains and limits red meat.

You can take the best aspects of this diet, cut out all of the processed food, reduce processed grains in your diet and opt for whole grains instead.


Low calorie diet

This stands for a very low calorie diet. It encourages a calorie intake of only 600-800 per day. You should remember that to function effectively, women generally need 2,000 calories a day, while men need 2,500 calories. This is a crash diet, as you won’t get all the nutrients through food with such a low calorie intake.

Most of the time, the 600-800 calories are provided via formulated meals, such as bars and pre-packaged shakes. These will either replace all of your meals or some of them. The sachets do provide vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and protein, but carbohydrates are excluded.

This diet will give you rapid weight loss of about 3-5 pounds in a short space of time. It is often recommended by doctors to medically obese patients if their obesity is likely to have serious implications on their health in the very near future. However, it is not advised as a long-term solution.

Intermittent fasting diet

Intermittent Fasting

This is becoming increasingly popular in the media. This diet encourages you to fast for two days with 75% energy restriction. The following five days focuses on indulging in Mediterranean style food. This diet results in reduced energy intake on unrestricted days. Research has shown that people following this diet see results such as weight loss, improved levels of body fat and lower insulin levels. This diet is easier to stick to than other diets. The results might be promising, but it needs to be studied on a longer term basis.

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