FODMAPs stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. They are specific carbohydrates found in various foods and, in certain people, can cause symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Following a low FODMAP diet can help reduce these effects.…
What are fad diets?
Fad diets are weight loss diets that promise fast results, often without any scientific basis. These type of diets frequently involve eliminating whole food groups, which starves your body of important nutrients. They can generally provide short-term weight loss results, but are not sustainable in the long-term and can lead to weight gain after the diet is finished.
Identifying fad diets
Fad diets can generally be identified by some of the following features, which can include:
- Promising quick weight loss results in a short amount of time;
- Promoting certain foods, or food combinations;
- Excluding particular food groups (e.g. carbohydrates);
- Claiming that you do not need to exercise;
- Basing diets on single testimonials, and;
- Basing diets on studies that are not scientifically proven.
Examples of fad diets
Some examples of fad diets include:
- Cabbage soup diet, which involves eating predominantly large amounts of cabbage soup over seven days;
- Atkins diet, which involves limiting the consumption of carbohydrates and eating high amounts of protein;
- Blood type diet, which involves eating certain foods based on your blood type;
- Five and two diet, which involves intermittent fasting. This diet allows consumption of unlimited calories for five consecutive days, followed by a limited calorie intake for the next two days;
- Grapefruit diet, also known as the Hollywood diet, which claims that grapefruit has a special fat-burning enzyme;
- Lemon detox diet, also known as 'master cleanse', which involves eating no food and only drinking lemon tea or lemonade made from lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper;
- Slim-fast and other liquid diets, and;
- Specific diet and supplement pill diets.
Health risks of fad diets
Fad diets commonly restrict certain food groups, which means that there can be inadequate vitamin and mineral intake. This can lead to the occurrence of short-term health problems, which can include:
As fad diets vary in many ways and can restrict many foods, the long-term health implications of each fad diet remain unclear.
Fad diets are not sustainable
Although fad diets may give some weight loss results in the short-term, they are generally not sustainable. This means you can not follow them forever and when you stop the diet and return to your old lifestyle habits, your body weight is likely to increase again. Fad diets are not sustainable due to the limitations placed on the food variety and amount, which can cause cravings and hunger. In the long-term, fad diets that restrict the intake of certain food groups can prevent you from getting adequate amounts of nutrients to healthily sustain your body.
In a healthy balanced diet, an important aspect to monitor is the amount of energy you consume, compared to the amount of energy your body uses up. If you consistently take in more energy than your body uses, over time your body will store the excess energy as fat, leading to weight gain. To lose weight, the total amount of energy that your body uses must be more than the amount of energy taken in.
Energy in food
Energy in food is measured in kilojoules or calories (1 calorie = 4.2 kilojoules). Different foods vary in the amount of energy they provide because they contain different amounts of the three macronutrients which are fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Fats are the most energy-rich macronutrient, supplying about 38 kilojoules per gram. Proteins and carbohydrates supply around 17 kilojoules per gram. All three macronutrients contribute to the healthy maintenance of your body - fats help with nutrient absorption, proteins are important in the building of new cells and carbohydrates provide long lasting energy.
Healthy eating and exercise
To successfully maintain a healthy weight lifestyle changes, that are sustainable in the long term, will need to be adopted. This can involve eating smaller portion sizes, exercising more or eating healthy alternatives. The most important thing to remember when trying to lose weight is the amount of energy consumed needs to be less than the amount of energy used up. Exercising and being active is a great way to burn any extra kilojoules.
- Vegetables and legumes (which include beans, peas and tofu);
- Grain or cereal-based foods, such as breads, rice, breakfast cereals and pasta;
- Lean meats, fish, poultry and eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds;
- Fruits, and;
- Dairy and dairy substitutes (such as non-dairy milks fortified with calcium).
Dietary Guidelines also provide advice about required kilojoule intake, the various dietary fats and limitations of processed foods.
- Australian dietary guidelines 1-5. Australian Government - National Health and Medical Research Council. Accessed 19 June 2015, from https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-dietary-guidelines-1-5
- Blood-Type Fad Diet Theory Fails a Test. Harvard Mens Health Watch 18 no. 9 (April 2014): 8.
- Fad Diets | Dietitians Association of Australia. Accessed September 12 2014. http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/fad-diets/.
- Fad Diets: Slim on Good Nutrition?: Nursing2014. Accessed September 12 2014. http://journals.lww.com/nursing/Fulltext/2004/12000/Fad_diets__Slim_on_good_nutrition.16.aspx.
- Thomas Samantha L. Jim Hyde Asuntha Karunaratne Rick Kausman and Paul A. Komesaroff. They All Work...when You Stick to Them: A Qualitative Investigation of Dieting Weight Loss and Physical Exercise in Obese Individuals. Nutrition Journal 7 (2008): 34. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-7-34.
- Weight Loss and Fad Diets | Better Health Channel. Accessed September 12 2014. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Weight_loss_and_fad_diets.
- Weight Loss: Choosing a Diet Thats Right for You - Mayo Clinic. Accessed September 12 2014. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20048466?pg=2.
- Weight Loss Treatments. Accessed September 12 2014. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/weight-loss-treatments-beyond-the-basics?source=search_result&search=fad+diets&selectedTitle=1%7E115.
FAQ Frequently asked questions
What are fad diets?
Fad diets are weight-loss diets that promise fast results, often without any scientific basis. These diets frequently involve eliminating whole food groups, which starves your body of important nutrients. They can generally provide short-term weight loss results, but …
Why are fad diets not sustainable?
Fad diets are not sustainable because they place limits on the food variety and amount, which can cause cravings and hunger. In the long term, fad diets that restrict the intake of certain food groups can prevent you from getting adequate amounts of …
What are the common features of fad diets?
Fad diets can generally be identified by some of the following features: Promising quick weight loss results in a short amount of time; Promoting certain foods, or food combinations; Excluding particular food groups (e.g. …
What are some common fad diets?
Some examples of fad diets include: Cabbage soup diet, which involves eating predominantly large amounts of cabbage soup over seven days; Atkins diet, which involves limiting the consumption of carbohydrates and eating high amounts of protein; Blood type …
Are fad diets bad for you?
Fad diets commonly restrict certain food groups, which means that there can be inadequate vitamin and mineral intake. This can lead to short-term health problems such as dehydration, constipation, nausea, headache, weakness and fatigue.
Are there health problems associated with long-term fad diet use?
As fad diets vary in many ways, and can restrict many foods, the long-term health implications of each fad diet remain unclear.
Is it safe to cut out fats, carbohydrates or proteins altogether?
It is not advisable to completely remove macronutrients from your diet, as they all contribute to the healthy maintenance of your body - fats help with nutrient absorption, proteins are important in the building of new …