The dangers of fad diets

Caroline Cassidy

No matter how good your weight loss intentions, every now and again, news of the latest 'lose weight fast' fad diet is just too tempting to pass up. But how many of us have found ourselves down and demoralised after trying the latest 'miracle' diet plan?

Dangers of fad diets
Dangers of fad diets

Pic: Getty

The truth is, fad diets are rarely good for you, and in some cases they're downright dangerous. Here's why.

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Food exclusion diets
There's a reason we eat carbs, proteins, fibre, even fat and sugar. Our bodies need a nutritional balance to stay healthy, and diets that recommend cutting out certain foods, whether protein, carbs, wheat or dairy, will almost certainly mean you're lacking something.

Of course, we're fooled into thinking they work because we may have cut out a sizeable portion of our daily calorie intake. But cutting out any one food group entirely means you'll be losing essential nutrients, not to mention energy, and the chances are it'll all go back on when you start eating them again.

Low-carb or high-fat?
The Atkins diet has endured for some years now in various guises, but this high-protein, low-carb option is also often high in fat. While energy-boosting carbs found in bread, rice, potatoes and pasta are out, saturated fats like dairy and meat are in, potentially raising your cholesterol and putting you at risk of heart disease.

Lack of evidence
Diets that promote quick weight loss often advertise with the help of 'real-life' testimonials. All too often the diet is based on one singular study, or possibly no research at all. According to the NHS, there is no evidence, for example, that toxins build up in our bodies and that cutting out certain foods can solve the problem.

Any weight loss resulting from a detox diet is usually down to calorie restriction. If you plan on trying a new diet, look for real research from a reputable scientific organisation.

Calorie crash
As mentioned above, many dieters do see rapid weight loss as a result of a 'miracle' new plan. But the success of crash dieting is merely down to a sudden and severe reduction in the number of calories you're consuming. The problem is, your body isn't getting the nutrition it needs to function properly.

If you experience aches and pains, dizziness, fainting spells, dehydration, severe constipation or diarrhoea, mood changes or constant hunger while on your latest fad diet, your body's telling you to stop. Carry on with an unbalanced calorie crash diet and you could experience long-term health problems down the line.

The psychological side
Last year, a survey of 2,000 British men and women, conducted on behalf of bread makers Warburtons, found that the average 45-year-old had tried 61 diets. Unfortunately, far too many of us blame ourselves for dieting failure when in fact, we never stood a chance.
Fad diets and their super-fast weight loss promises set us up for failure because once your body goes into 'starvation mode' it will work hard to hold on to any calories it gets - which is why the weight piles back on so quickly once you eat normally again.

Ditch the demoralisation and make a few small changes to your diet - like increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables and fibre you eat, swapping white bread and rice for brown, avoiding 'trans fats' and cutting back on empty calories like biscuits and alcohol.

Have you tried every fad diet going? Did any of them work for you or did you put the weight back on as quickly as you lost it? Leave your comments below...