Body image and weight insecurities have seen a lot of people embark on unhealthy fad diets in the name of getting back in shape. These unrealistic diet trends are making rounds across the world, with millions of people putting their health at risk in order to lose weight. The old fashioned mode of exercising has been greatly replaced by ‘miraculous fads and dieting regimen’ that causes more harm than good. We examine briefly ‘10’ of these unrealistic diets below.
#1: Cabbage Soup Diet. Eat an unlimited amount of cabbage soup (with peppers, onions and celery) for seven days alongside one normal meal. You will lose weight during the week and cleanse your body of toxins.
The bad: You will get bored of this soup; feel unwell, bloated and weak. This diet is unsustainable over long periods, and the weight lost will be regained when you switch back to eating normally.
#2: Master Cleanse/Lemon Diet. This extreme cleanse is done by drinking (6-10 cups) of water, mixed with cayenne pepper, maple syrup and lemon. By not eating any food for the period of the diet (usually 10 days), the body will eliminate toxins and break down fat.
The bad: This diet is dangerous as no food is consumed. You will feel sick, irritable, lose energy and regain the weight when you go off the diet.
#3: Grapefruit Diet. Here you are required to eat ½ a grapefruit or drink 8 ounces of grapefruit juice with protein meals not exceeding 800 calories. This diet is easy to follow and aids in weight loss.
The bad: This diet is restrictive, can cause dizziness, stomach aches or headaches from insufficient nutrition, and is difficult to maintain over long periods. Any weight lost will be quickly regained.
#4: Baby Food Diet. This involves replacing 1 or 2 meals a day with baby food. Eating food like a baby is sure to result in weight loss.
The bad: Eating baby food as a grown adult does not make any sense. Not only is this diet unappealing, it can be expensive and unsustainable over long periods. The adult body is not made to function off baby portions.
#5: Fast Diet/Intermittent Fasting. For this diet, you get to eat 600 calories 2 days a week, and then eat whatever you like for the remaining 5 days. Intermittent fasting is said to reduce calories and help the body heal and repair quickly.
The bad: 5 days of eating whatever you like can erode the effects of the 2 days of intermittent fasting.
#6: Paleo Diet. This diet encourages eating fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood and lean meat along with regular exercise. Eating healthy and exercising often is excellent for weight loss.
The bad: This plan can be tough to follow and expensive to maintain. Also, eliminating whole grains and dairy does not make it a balanced diet.
#7: Atkins Diet. This diet restricts the consumption of starch and foods high in carbohydrates and encourages eating meals high in protein. You get to eat as much protein as you like.
The bad: Diets high in protein can lead to increased risks of heart disease, colon cancer, bad breath (halitosis) and constipation. Any weight lost will be regained.
#8: Blood Group Diet. This diet claims that people can lose weight by following ‘diets’ right for their blood types. You will lose weight from following a restrictive meal plan.
The bad: There is no conclusive research showing that following a diet based on blood type will work. You may lose weight short term but it will be unsustainable if you don’t eat a healthy balanced diet.
#9: Raw Food Diet. Advocates of this diet believe that cooking above 116° Fahrenheit destroys the digestive enzymes and nutritional benefits in meals. Foods consumed include fruit, vegetables, seeds, legumes, dried fruits, nuts, seaweed and mineral water. You can eat as much as you want, as often as you want as long as it is raw and vegetarian.
The bad: Buying fresh fruit and vegetables regularly can be expensive, and restricting meals cooked or heated above 116° Fahrenheit makes it difficult to dine out. Eliminating other food groups could lead to fatigue, osteoporosis, and calcium and nutrient deficiency in the long term.
#10: Pre-Packaged/Meal Replacement Diets. Diets like NutriSystem, Jenny Craig, Medifast, Bistro MD etc. involve providing dieters with pre-made meals delivered to their doorsteps. Each meal (including soups and shakes) contains a certain amount of calories to be consumed 3 times a day – which is less than the normal caloric intake.
The bad: They tend to be expensive, and though weight loss is attainable, you may revert back to your original size (or more) when you go off the meals.
Benefits of Ol’ Fashioned Exercise
#1: Aids Weight Loss. Exercising regularly coupled with eating a healthy balanced meal can help you lose or maintain weight loss.
#2: Preventing Diseases. Being physically active can help the body prevent or manage a wide range of health problems especially depression and cardiovascular diseases. It can also reduce the bad cholesterol level by burning the fat in the blood.
#3: Improves Mood. Exercise releases endorphins, which creates feelings of happiness. Research shows that exercise greatly helps to relieve anxiety, thereby improving your mood. You will feel better about your appearance, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.
#4: Boosts Energy. Regular exercise can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance as it delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently, thereby increasing your energy levels.
#5: Improves Sleep Patterns: Regular physical activity can help improve relaxation and aid your body in falling asleep easier.
#6: Improve Sex Life. Exercise will improve your energy level, and make you more body confident which may have a positive effect on your sex life.
#7: Reduce Stress. Exercising after a stressful day has the ability to relieve stress and promote better sleep. It greatly helps the mind and body to deal with tension.
#8: Boost Self Confidence. Physical fitness can boost your self-esteem and improve positive self-image.
#9: Sharpen Memory & Boost Brain Power. Regular physical activity boosts memory and the ability to learn new things. Research shows that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance
#10: Prevent Cognitive Decline. Long term ‘regular’ exercise can slow down aging and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Physical activity improves the brain function, keeping it sharp and alert.
Fad dieting is restrictive, can get boring and only has short term benefits. It is unhealthy for the body and can lead to diseases if left unchecked. Most fad diets help you lose weight quickly, but that weight (and even more) can and will be regained once you come off the diet. The only way to truly achieve weight loss (and maintain it) is by embarking on a healthy diet plan alongside regular exercising. As little as 30 minutes spent on daily physical activity can have a great impact on the body.
Healthy diets are not restrictive, and allow you to eat whatever you want with appropriate portion control – encompassing all the food groups and encouraging eating healthily. They also encourage physical activity which overall makes weight control more manageable and attainable every day, long term. Focusing on eating right and exercising daily can bring about significant changes in our bodies and overall fitness levels.
The proper way to lose weight is to remember that it is a gradual process. Change your eating and lifestyle habits, embrace physical activity and watch as the weight comes off showcasing a new and better YOU.