A fad diets is any diet plan or aid that aims to reduce one’s weight, usually in an unrealistically short time. Fad diets attract susceptible people who suffer with weight problems. They desperately seek shortcuts to achieving a shapely physique. A common problem with fad diets is that the fat-reducing effect is only temporary. Fat loss is usually followed by a quick regain of weight. More disturbing is that many of these diets may actually be harmful to your health.
Fad diets are not as new as you might think. For a century and a half, fad diets have remained popular among those with weight problems- most commonly among teens and young adults with weight problems.
Fad diets are typically based on higher consumption of proteins, fats, or some “secret weapon” (vinegar, grapefruit, pickle juice, etc.) while avoiding or completely eliminating carbohydrates. This reduction of carbohydrates (primarily sugar) brings about rapid weight loss. In fact, this rapid weight loss comes from the loss of water that is associated with stored glycogen. With loss of stored muscle glycogen, the weight of the water stored in it is also lost, and body weight drops. As the diet loses its luster and is abandoned, the body quickly regains the proportion of water lost.
Normally, carbohydrates are the primary source of energy in the human body. However, fad diets typically eliminate the carbs. Because they are no longer present, the body starts looking for another energy source. It begins breaking down stored fat. While this may appear to be beneficial, it is not. In the absence of carbohydrates, fats cannot be completely oxidized to release its energy. Hence, the body feels weak and fatigued. To make matters worse, ketone bodies (molecules) resulting from the metabolic fat-breakdown accumulate in the blood. The ketones are excreted in the urine, causing dehydration.
Fad Diet Red Flags
Given the empty promises and harmful health effects of fad diets, it is important for weight-conscious consumers to recognize these diet plans. Watch out for diets that:
- Promise unrealistically quick weight loss
- Publicize (doctored) “before and after” pictures
- Present weight-loss testimonials
- Limit natural food choices
- Require a large sum of money
Although fad diets may be popular, many of them can be harmful to your body. Be careful with any diet or exercise program promising immediate results with little or no effort. Be sure to ask your doctor if you have any questions about safety.