Why Are Fad Diets Bad? The Risks and Benefits of Fad Diets
Any diet that is promoted as the best way to lose weight can be considered a fad diet.
Unlike traditional dieting, which focuses on paying attention to nutrition labels and cutting back caloric intake, fad diets require you to cut back on certain types of food or nutrients. In other words, you’re removing key nutrients from your diet and ultimately putting yourself at risk of serious health issues down the line.
The Keto diet, for example, eliminates carbohydrates from your diet and encourages excessive fat consumption so that your body can be in a state of ketosis. While your diet shouldn’t solely consist of carbohydrates, they are an important part of a balanced diet.
New fad diets pop up regularly. Discover how to spot a one, the ways in which they can be beneficial, and the risks associated with following a fad diet.
Popular Fad Diets
It’s easy to spot a fad diet; in fact, hearing about them is hard to avoid. While diverse in what foods you can and cannot eat, they usually have one thing in common, which is the exclusion of certain foods or food groups.
Fad diets that have become household names include:
- Keto: This low-carb diet requires you to avoid carbs, consuming less than 50 grams a day so that your body can remain in a state of ketosis, which burns body fat.
- Atkins: Another low-carb diet, Atkins encourages the consumption of proteins and fats while drastically cutting carbs to 20 grams or less a day.
- Paleo: Also known as the “caveman diet,” Paleo is based on what our ancestors consumed during the Paleolithic era. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and lean meats are encouraged.
- Southbeach: This diet is a modified version of popular low-carb diets, encouraging the consumption of good carbs, fiber, and lean proteins.
- Cabbage Soup Diet: This seven-day detox specifies which foods you can eat on a daily basis in addition to a specially made cabbage soup. For instance, on the first day, you’re only supposed to eat fruit and soup. The second, only vegetables and soup.
- Grapefruit Diet: This is another quick weight loss solution that ends up flushing the body of water weight. A small amount of food is allowed at each meal, typically accompanied by grapefruit juice.
- Alkaline Diet: This diet seeks to change the body’s pH level to help you lose weight.
Benefits of Fad Diets
Fad diets aren’t intrinsically bad or harmful. Participating in them can offer a few benefits, depending on the diet and the goals it is meant to help achieve.
Easy To Follow
Many of these diets offer simple rules to follow, giving you an “easy” fix to weight loss or changing dietary habits. The Paleo diet, for example, is relatively easy to follow because it mostly consists of foods you already have in your fridge or pantry.
Gives a Better Understanding of Nutrition
Fad diets can help a person understand nutrition and compel them to try something new. For instance, maybe you didn’t realize you react to dairy in a negative way. By cutting dairy out of your diet, you may notice that you feel better or get an upset stomach less often. These diets commonly require the removal of certain foods, which can be eye-opening.
Quick Weight Loss
One of the most obvious reasons people engage in fad diets is because of rapid weight loss. Often these diets will promise weight loss in as little as two weeks to a month. If you are someone who needs a kickstart, starting with a fad diet can be helpful because it can encourage you to keep losing weight once you’ve shed the first few pounds.
Forms New Habits
Regardless of the type, diets help form new habits. This is especially true with fad diets. Many of them come with instructions and make dieters change their eating habits in a drastic way. Over time, these changes can become better, more healthy lifestyle habits.
Risks of Fad Diets
These diets aren’t for everyone. They do come with some risks that you should be aware of prior to making a lifestyle change.
Fad diets often lead people to believe they’ve lost more weight than they actually have. Losing too much water weight could lead to rapid dehydration. Water is an important component of any healthy diet, so it’s important to remember to drink enough.
Many fad diets make people cut out certain foods or food groups to lose weight. Doing this will diminish calories and help prevent weight gain, but it can also present a range of other health issues.
Malnutrition can be a big issue when it comes to fad dieting. Certain diets that limit the amount or source of protein can cause a protein deficiency. This can present a whole slew of issues, including hair loss.
Fortunately, hair loss damage caused by protein deficiencies doesn’t have to be permanent. Hair follicles are metabolically active in the body; as such, hair growth can be impacted by a lack of protein. Often, a regimen of dietary supplements is suggested to help regain thickness in the hair.
Yo-Yo Weight Loss
If you’ve ever tried a fad diet, you understand that it’s not a sustainable way of living. Often, the weight comes back almost immediately, especially if you go back to your old eating habits. This method, also known as yo-yo weight loss, can put an unhealthy strain on the body and can lead to other unwanted side-effects and health problems.
A Greater Chance of Binge-Eating
If weight loss or trying new fad diets becomes an obsession, or results in purging methods to keep on track of your diet, you may be binge-eating. This can also occur if you attempt to stick to a relatively restrictive diet. Because fad diets often restrict certain foods, you may feel strong cravings and give in, eating more than usual when you get ahold of a particular food that you cut out to lose weight.
Fortunately, there are better, more healthy ways you can lose weight and maintain that weight loss. Consuming a wholesome, healthy diet and enjoying treats in moderation and participating in daily exercise is a great way to stay healthy while losing unwanted weight.