7 Fad Diets For Weight Loss That Can Do More Harm Than Good
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Weight loss is not just a great goal to have when you have health issues like overweight, obesity or high cholesterol, but also to stay fit and active. Being in the ideal weight range as per your body mass index, age, gender and other life factors can help you lead a long and healthy life. So, if you have weight loss listed as a major life goal, it is good for you. The ideal way to lose weight is to visit a nutritionist or doctor and ask for a customized diet plan that can help you with weight loss the healthy way.  

However, with weight loss fad diets doing the rounds as major trends, this becomes quite difficult. You might feel that a fad diet will help you lose weight quickly simply because there are so many stories around, even by celebrities. In the short run, some of these diets may also help you shed the kilos quickly, indicating that they are working. But often, these fad diets for weight loss can do a lot of harm in the long run instead of benefitting you. 

So, if you are on a weight loss journey and hoping to pick up one for yourself, there are a few things you should know about what fad diets are, whether they help at all, and how they can harm your health in the long run. Read on to know more. 

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What Are Fad Diets? A Brief Explainer 

A 2021 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism says that fad diets first came into vogue purely as a phenomenon that affected girls and women, especially as adopted by fashion models. As the body image of fashion models—skinny, taut and almost skeletal—became more accepted as “the ideal” among women around the world, the number of fad diets for weight loss also went up, mostly in the 1990s and beyond. But what even is a fad diet and how can you spot one? 

The American Dietetic Association defines a fad diet as “a diet that promises instant weight loss without having to exercise but is not based on a clear scientific basis. This type of unsafe diet can pose a risk of various health problems such as ketosis, disruption of fluid, and electrolyte balance, to cause kidney damage.” So, these fad diets may be doing the rounds as major trends followed by celebrities and others, but in the long term, they can indeed harm your kidney as well as other major organs. 

“Although these diets may provide immediate weight reduction, they frequently ignore the essential principles of balanced nutrition and may adversely affect overall well-being,” says Chirag Barjatya, a fitness entrepreneur with a background in nutrition, and the founder of the Project Fit Co (PFC Club). “Emphasizing individual nutritional requirements and establishing healthful habits is more beneficial than relying on these transient, generalized solutions.” So, as mentioned before, if you do want to lose weight, consult a doctor, dietician, nutritionist or any other medical professional who can guide you well. 

Fad Diets You Need To Be Careful With 

A study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition in 2022 says that with the global interest in dieting for weight loss increasing, so has the popular obsession with any and every new fad diet that comes up. The study explains that these fad diets are usually assumed by people to be “a magic bullet for their long-term problems” but in fact, the beneficial claims made by most aren’t supported by scientific evidence or even the rules of simple biochemistry. Here are some such fad diets that science as well as our expert recommend you avoid unless under the strict guidance of medical professionals. 

1. Keto Diet 

Designed first by Dr Russell Wilder in 1923, the classic Ketogenic or Keto diet was formulated not for weight loss but to treat epilepsy. The classic Keto diet calls for a strict regime of 4:1 fat to carb ratio—meaning you can eat four parts fats and one part carbs and proteins for every meal you have. Barjatya says that this diet recommends “an excessive reduction in carbohydrate intake, which can potentially lead to nutritional imbalances.” The Frontiers in Nutrition study also suggests that following a Keto diet can cause hypoglycemia, lethargy and severe hyperlipidemia or spike in cholesterol and triglycerides. 

2. Paleo Diet 

Also known as the Stone Age, caveman or hunter-gatherer diet, Paleo diet was first introduced by Eaton and Konner in 1985—but the diet’s basic rules were published by Dr Loren Cordain in 2010. This diet has no restrictions on the consumption of lean meats, fruits and non-starchy veggies. On the other hand, dairy, legumes, cereals and processed foods are completely avoided. Barjatya says that following the Paleo diet “may result in deficiencies of vital nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D”, which are essential for overall physical and mental health. 

3. Juice Cleanse 

Juice cleanse diets first came up in the late 2000s, but in recent years, they gained notoriety and fame globally thanks to many celebrities endorsing it. From the Celery Juice Cleanse to the Green Juice Cleanse, these cleanses claim that drinking only fresh juices instead of solid meals can help lose weight rapidly. While juice cleanses do deliver on the weight loss promise, Barjatya says they are also “notorious for causing fatigue and depriving the body of indispensable proteins and fats.” 

4. Atkins Diet 

The Atkins diet was formulated in the 1970s by cardiologist Dr Robert Atkins, who introduced it as a revolutionary new diet for weight loss. Claiming that carbohydrates are the main culprit behind metabolic imbalance and obesity, Atkins devised a diet that focused on an extreme reduction of carb intake, but free consumption of proteins and fats with vitamin supplementation. The study above states that Atkins can cause acidity, nausea, vomitting and dehydration. Barjatya says that it is “a regimen high in proteins and fats that may lead to kidney problems.” 

5. Military Diet 

A more recent fad diet that is now trending around the world for quick weight loss, Military diet is one that can be categorised as an extreme diet that claims to help you lose 10 pounds in a week. This short-term, calorie-controlled diet can be very difficult to follow, especially since you are supposed to follow a set menu for three days, followed by four days of calorie-restricted dieting. Barjatya explains that the Military diet is “a highly restrictive method that often results in short-term weight loss followed by rapid weight regain and potential nutrient deficiencies.” 

6. Detox Diet 

Not to be confused with a sattvik diet, a detox diet is usually a short-term diet that focuses on eliminating toxins from the body to promote weight loss. From drinking detox drinks made with apple cider vinegar or charcoal to total calorie restriction, the varieties within the approaches to detox diets can boggle your mind. However, the study mentioned above says clearly that most detox diets are liquid-based and nutritionally poor, so they can lead to everything from muscle loss to deficiencies in the long run. 

7. Intermittent Fasting 

One of the most popular weight loss diets out there, many people believe Intermittent Fasting or IF to be an extreme diet because it focuses on restricting calorie intake for long durations and the risk of overeating or unhealthy eating during the eating period is also quite high. Experts have revealed that not only can IF lead to an unhealthy relationship with food, but also cause nutritional deficiencies, loss of energy and other health issues for those suffering from hypertension, diabetes and other health issues.