Analysis of fad diets

“If I lose 10 pounds in the coming two weeks, I’d have achieved the goal I set last New Year.” Time to exit fantasyland!

The concept of the “quick fix” is central to all fad diets. As is the notion that a change in our bodies can only result from a radical change in how we eat.

The word “diet” originally comes from the Greek diata, which means manner of living. It means making sustained, long-term dietary improvements to get results that last. It is no wonder, why so many diets are traps to gaining the weight right back.

And remember, any diet that sounds crazy or unrealistic… probably is. So next time there is a new ‘best way to shed off extra pounds’, think if it really can work for you!
Now for a quick run-through of seven of the most popular diet fads with an outline of what each involves… then you can give the final verdict.

The Atkins diet

An overview

This is probably the most well-known low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. This diet claims that you can eat all the protein and fat that you care to and still lose weight. The prime consideration is to cut down on carbohydrates to lose weight.

What happens with this diet

Initial weight loss is rapid, but is not always sustainable.

Large intake of foods high in saturated fats and proteins puts a strain on the kidneys and liver.

Giving up or severely restricting carbohydrates does not provide the body with a nutritional balance.

An analysis

Let’s take a look at what happens when you consume a high-protein diet, such as this. Protein is acidic, so your kidneys tap into your body’s calcium reserves to balance this acidity. If there is not enough calcium in your blood, it will be pulled out from your bones, resulting in osteoporosis.

Also, if such an imbalanced diet is maintained, the body soon reverts to a fasting state called ketosis, in which the body begins to metabolize muscle tissue instead of fat. This state of deliberately inducing ketosis can lead to muscle breakdown, dehydration, headaches and kidney problems.

Weight is lost due to loss of water and muscle; once you stop this diet the lost weight can return quickly.

The Zone diet

An overview

This is a meal plan designed to include 40 percent of its calories from carbohydrates, 30 from proteins and 30 from fat. All meals and snacks are to follow this 40-30-30 distribution ratio. It is believed that following this eating pattern causes the body to work within its peak performance “Zone” for maximum energy and weight loss.

What happens with this diet

Weight loss is steady and consistent.

You need to carefully plan each meal so as to be in the “Zone” all the time.

It is time-consuming as you need to eat six meals a day.

This diet does not advocate exercise.

An analysis

The diet is low in carbohydrates and high in protein. The ideal carbohydrate intake should be about 55 to 60 per cent and protein intake about 12 to 15 per cent. A low-carbohydrate consumption can sap your energy levels. In addition, this diet is low in fiber and not nutritionally balanced due to drastic reduction in foods such as breads and pasta. Also, figuring out how to perfectly formulate each meal into a 40-30-30 ratio can be quite a nerve wrecking experience!