Beware of Fad Diets



Nutrition fads. We have all heard of them. Many seem like a good idea; others are plain bizarre. Each plan promises results, but all too many don’t deliver and leave people worse off than when they started. As healthcare professionals, it is important to inform consumers on which fad diet are actually safe to pursue and which are flat out a bad idea. Below are some guidelines on how to sift through whatever fad diet you may be thinking of.

Aspects to consider before starting:

1.     Calorie Restrictions

Any nutrition plan that highly restricts calories is not a good one. Many will suggest 1200 calories for women and 1500 calories for men. They will choose these numbers because they are the lowest numbers that can still be considered “safe”. However, most adults need more than these amounts. Over restricting calories will cause someone to lose weight too quickly and ultimately starve the body of necessary nutrients.

 2.     Macronutrient Balance

It is paramount to choose a plan that has proper nutrient balance. The three macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

The general recommendation is that

  • 50% of total calories should be from carbohydrates,
  • 20% from protein and no more than
  • 30% from fat.

Many fad diets will recommend drastic restrictions to any one of these macronutrients, which will render less than ideal results and compromise your overall wellbeing.

3.     Drinking vs. Chewing

Human beings have a natural need to chew. Thus, fad diets, classified as detoxes or cleanses that call for liquid or smoothie meal replacements will leave someone ultimately unsatisfied.

4.     Sustainability

The most important aspect to consider when choosing a nutrition plan is sustainability. Most fad diets are not sustainable in nature; however, there can be valuable lessons to be learned, which can be incorporated into a sustainable lifestyle. If the fad diet you are considering has favorable answers to the first three points discussed, here are some questions to ask yourself after completing it.

Questions to ask after finishing:

  1. What were the positives elements about this temporary fad diet?
  2. What were the negative aspects?
  3. How will I incorporate what I found positive into a sustainable lifestyle, moving forward?

Discuss your answers with a registered dietitian to receive professional guidance and create further accountability for long term sustainability.


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