Every year as summers come by, new fad diets hit the market. Why are fad diets so popular, especially since most of them also don’t work? The answer lies within our psyche – most people will do anything to lose weight because they have managed to pack on a lot of weight by their sedentary lifestyles in the cold winter months and are desperate to look more in shape in summers.
The origin of fad diets comes from our desire to a quick fix solution. Whether it is to fit in to a dress for a friend’s wedding, or to lose weight before a physical examination to avoid being diagnosed with diseases borne out of obesity, the very idea of ‘I want to lose weight fast’ is the source of these fad diets. And companies promoting these diets work on your weakness and take advantage of this desire by promising a quick fix solution to weight loss. A few examples are Atkins’s Diet, Cabbage Soup Diet, The Zone Diet and South Beach Diet.
Who doesn’t want to lose weight without changing their lifestyle habits, which involve changing your diet for good and incorporating regular exercise routines five days a week? For most people, the very appeal of a fad diet lies in the fact that they can achieve weight loss without changing their bad habits. Another reason fad diets become popular is because they offer short term weight loss, but that loss in weight is not coming from burning fat but from muscle breakdown along with losing water weight because of the strict nature of these fad diets.
So let us review three fad diets that promise to help you achieve weight loss and find out whether they work.
#1 – Calorie Shifting
In theory, Calorie Shifting seems to be the kind of diet that will work. The idea behind this diet is to shift calories on different days so that your weight loss doesn’t hit a plateau. To achieve that, it is recommended that you eat different food groups on different days and follow an order. To confuse your metabolism, you will eat a high carbohydrate diet on one day and eat a high protein diet the next. Also, your calorie intakes will vary which will help your body not hit a plateau, which is often the case when you eat a calorie restricting diet day after day.
How to do it? Find out your daily caloric needs based on your current weight and goal weight. Let us suppose you need to eat 1200 calories every day to lose weight. Eat a planned diet of 1200 calories for seven days. For the next three to four days, increase your diet to 1500 calories. As your body gets more food, it will compensate by burning more calories because these are not required by the body. Hence, your metabolism rate will increase. After four days, reduce your caloric intake to 900 calories for the next three to four days so that your metabolism is confused again and continues to burn fat. At the end of the 15 day period, your average caloric intake stays 1200 calories, but you have consumed different number of calories on different days, so that your body never goes in to starvation mode and your metabolism stays revved up. Repeat the same cycle for the next 15 days and continue in this manner until you reach your goal weight.
Exercises recommended with Calorie Shifting: 30 to 40 minutes of any cardio exercise like walking, jogging or cycling.
Restrictions: No alcohol, juices and sweetened beverages are allowed on this diet.Expert’s Advice: According to Lisa Renn who is the spokesperson for Dieticians Association of Australia, Calorie Shifting can result in weight loss because it is highly prescriptive and also changes the food groups you eat on a day to day basis. However, this is not a sustainable diet programme because it encourages dieters to eat either carbohydrates or proteins on a day.
A better approach would be to have a balanced diet of 1200 calories, which includes all three macro-nutrients – proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats — every day. Once you have ensured that your diet is balanced on a daily basis, shifting calories may be a great way to achieve long term weight loss. However, this diet will require you to carefully count the calories in all the foods and drinks you consume every day, which makes it very cumbersome.
#2 – Eco Atkins
Much like the Atkins Diet, the Eco Atkins is also a high protein, low carbohydrate diet, with the exception that the proteins come from vegan sources. That means, you consume up to 150 grams of proteins every day from sources like soya, nuts and gluten products, while you also eat healthy monounsaturated fats from olive oil, canola oil and avocados.
How to do it? Base meals on only vegan sources of proteins, which means more legumes, soy, nuts and sprouts. The idea behind this diet is that animal proteins can increase your cholesterol levels, which is unwanted. Instead, you need to get your daily calories by eating 31 per cent plant proteins, 43 per cent vegetable oils and 26 per cent carbohydrates.
Restrictions: No animal, dairy and starchy foods to be consumed.
Expert’s Advice: While the Eco-Atkins might work for vegetarians and vegans, it is not recommended for those who normally eat meats. Avoiding animal proteins, dairy and carbohydrates is not a sustainable diet programme, because it will soon become boring and restrictive. Also, such a diet will be lacking in Zinc, Vitamin B12, Calcium and Iron. Also, low amounts of carbohydrates will hinder with a good exercise routine, which is a must for long term weight loss. Also, low carb diets bring about unwanted side effects like constipation, disorientation, extra stress of kidneys and bad breath, which can be avoided if you complement this diet with balanced portions of complex carbohydrates.
#3 – The Morning Banana Diet
As the name suggests, this latest fad diet from Japan requires you to eat bananas for breakfast and lose weight! The idea behind the diet is that bananas increase satiety, which means you are full for longer and hence can reduce your caloric intake.
How to do it? Eat a banana with a glass of lukewarm water for breakfast. The other two meals, namely lunch and dinner can be normal balanced meals. However, no desserts are allowed and there is no mid-meal snacking. The creators believe that the indigestible starch in banana will increase the body’s fat burning capabilities and result in guaranteed weight loss.
Restrictions: No alcohol, sweetened beverages of desserts are allowed. Also, dinner must be consumed by 8pm.
Expert’s advice: The resistant starch in banana is a great dietary fiber and will help you feel satiated for longer. However, the weight loss achieved is not because your breakfast comprises of bananas, but because you are not allowed any snacking, late night eating, desserts and alcohol. Fruits are healthy and eating two fruits every day is a good practice. But dieters must note that the weight loss achieved by this diet is because of a disciplined healthy diet and not because of bananas.