Learn about the 5 top weight loss fad diets and the pros and cons of each.
Fad diets have been around for more than 100 years, ever since a woman named Lulu Hunt Peters introduced the idea of counting calories. Since then, thousands of weight loss schemes have come and gone, including one concocted by a tobacco company encouraging women to reach for a cigarette rather than a sweet. Each fad diet has had its disciples who swear by it and critics – who swear at it.
The big question – Do they really help you lose weight?
Pro: Yes. fad diets at Tufts-New England Medical Center compared several fad diets and revealed they can lead to a weight loss between 4.6 to 7.3 pounds within a year.
Con: Not in the long run. Sticking to a fad diet is tough, especially when it comes to eating out. The diets that promise rapid weight loss often have low adherence rates. People “cheat” on them or eventually give them up entirely and the weight returns.
Do fad diets rob you of nutrients you need?
Pro: Companies that sell pre-packaged meals, such as Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig, balance their foods to provide necessary nutrients.
Con: Diets that require you to eliminate or drastically reduce certain categories, such as carbohydrates, meats, fats, etc., are often not balanced and can deprive you of essential nutrients.
So, let’s get down into the “weeds” and look at the pros and cons of the diet fads that are hot right now.
Atkins & Ketogenic
Atkins is the granddaddy of the low-carb diets, and keto is the latest incarnation to get raves. Both call for a reduction of carbohydrates. Ketogenic is the most extreme, encouraging more fat consumption.
Pros: Both are effective in short-term weight loss and seem to aid diabetes management.
Cons: Two recent significant studies show people who reduce carbs don’t live as long as those who don’t.
The founder of this diet believes returning to the diets of our Stone Age ancestors will keep us healthy and in shape.
Pros: The diet is high in protein. It calls for eating meat, eggs, nuts, green vegetables, and seeds (such as sunflower). Weight loss occurs because of limited food choices, i.e., no starchy veggies such as potatoes or pasta, and no dairy products. (Paleolithic people didn’t have cows).
Cons: The diet eliminates grains and dairy products, which are good for you. It also has too few carbs for athletes and people engaged in strenuous activities. Our Stone Age forbears only lived to about 35, and their mummies show high rates of hardened arteries.
A vegan diet not only eliminates meat, but all animal products, including eggs, milk, and cheese.
Pros: Effective weight loss through a reduction in calories. Studies show vegans are at lower risk of some diseases than meat-eaters.
Cons: Cutting out all animal products deprives a body of key nutrients that can result in loss of bone and muscle mass.
This plan calls for a daily intake of 40 percent carbohydrate, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat through strictly controlled portions that speed the fat burning process.
Pros: Rapid weight loss while adhering to balanced nutrition.
Cons: The body is deprived of valuable vitamins and minerals, and rapid weight loss may be followed by weight gain.
This one comes from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It allows you to eat from all food groups in moderation but emphasizes fish while limiting sweets and red meats.
Pros: Dieticians and the medical community favors this as an excellent diet that balances nutrition.
Cons: Designed for healthful eating more than weight loss.
People who struggle with weight tend to want a quick fix, but doctors and nutritionists have preached for years the safe way to shed pounds and keep them off is through a sensible, balanced diet taken in reasonable portions and combined with daily exercise…preferably outdoors.
Try getting out and planting some of the herbs and spices for that diet! This is the “fad” that works.
By: Lynn Walker – Lynn Walker has been writing for radio, tv, and newspapers for more than 50 years, and has expertise in news, health features, humor, and history.