Happy New Year and welcome to 2023! We at Prism Health North Texas hope you had a joyous and relaxing celebration! Typically, when a year ends people put together a list of things they would like to accomplish in the new year, and top of a lot of people’s lists every year is losing weight. So, let’s talk about fad diets you hear a lot about and whether you should actually try them!
What are fad diets?
Fad diets are diets that are made publicized and famous with the promise to help you lose weight FAST. Most fad diets will have you eliminate certain foods or will have you eat more of certain foods on the basis that they provide your body with certain fat-burning nutrition. Fad diets of the past include South Beach Diet, The Mediterranean Diet, Atkins Diet, and the Raw Food Diet.
What are some current fad diets and their nutritional worth?
The Mediterranean Diet:
The Mediterranean Diet has been an interest of food researchers and nutritionists since the 1950s and is still very popular. The reason the Mediterranean Diet has stuck around for so long is that it actually does promote healthy eating without it being as rigid as other diets.
On the Mediterranean Diet, you would eat fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, grains, and lean meats. While on the diet you would avoid red meats and full-fat dairy. Regular exercise is also a major component of this diet. Although your body may not get enough vitamin D while on this diet, most nutritionists agree that it encourages a healthy lifestyle.
The Keto Diet:
The Keto diet is a low-carb/high-fat diet that is said to push your body into a ketogenic state, which is when your body burns fat instead of carbohydrates. You are supposed to eat a lot of unsaturated fats (nuts, seeds, avocadoes) during this diet, but a lot of people read “a high-fat diet” and end up eating a lot of saturated fats (cheese, butter, oil, and red meats).
Against most nutritionists’ advice, the Keto diet has you avoid fruits which are needed in a balanced diet. Although this diet does provide some benefits, most doctors will not recommend it due to a lot of severe side effects that can occur.
The Paleo Diet:
The Paleo Diet is based on the hunter-gatherer era of humanity and has you eat lean meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts. While on the diet you are supposed to avoid grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, and processed foods.
Nutritionists agree that this diet does provide health benefits and can help you lose weight short term. However, it is very restrictive and may be hard to keep up with to see long-term results.
Fasting is a lifestyle that has been promoted in many religions. Several religions around the world fast for different reasons and at different times. The basis of this diet is more on WHEN to eat and less on WHAT to eat. There are many intervals of intermittent fasting, but the gist is to only eat during certain hours of the day.
During intermittent fasting, you are encouraged to eat healthy foods typically during a 6-to-8-hour window and drink a lot of water throughout the day. The only common restriction is to avoid processed foods. Talk to your doctor before starting intermittent fasting, some people have lifestyles or medical conditions that require eating meals more regularly.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension are typically recommended for people with severe hypertension or heart disease. If you are at high risk for heart failure, your doctor may recommend you start this diet.
The DASH diet does not have a lot of restrictions and can be adapted to many lifestyles and cultures. The main goal is to avoid processed, sweetened, and fast foods, alcohol, and sodium. Although lower-sodium foods are a good thing for most people, too little sodium can be just as harmful to some people as too much sodium.
Vegan/plant-based diets eliminate all food products that come from animals including meat, eggs, honey, and dairy products. Eating more plant-based foods and less meat can help a lot of people lose weight and live healthier, however, completely cutting out animal byproducts is very hard and can be very expensive.
Vegan/plant-based diets can promote a healthy lifestyle but people that avoid animal byproducts can have a B12 deficiency and be at a higher risk of stroke and depression. People that live a truly vegan lifestyle not only avoid animal byproducts in food, but also in consumer goods like furniture, clothes, and accessories.
Are fad diets good for me?
A lot of fad diets do provide some nutritional value to a person’s everyday life, however, most foods provide your body with some nutrition, and completely cutting out that food will deprive your body of that nutrition.
Everyone’s body is different and that is why it’s important to talk to nutritionists and doctors before starting diets. They will be able to tell you what your body needs more or less of. Most doctors will agree that eating less processed and fast foods, avoiding alcohol and smoking, exercising more, and drinking plenty of water will improve your health.