Fad Diets: A Closer Look at Popular Diets

Numerous people promise themselves to watch what they eat and attempt to improve their dietary patterns. Many remember starting (or restarting) a diet, trusting that their attempts at a healthier lifestyle doesn’t disappoint. Weight loss plans have helped innumerable individuals lose inches around the waist and thighs, and the popularity of many diet plans have increased due to some jaw-dropping results. There are large number of diets to choose form: low-carb, high protein, no fruits, all fruits, no fat, high fat, all juice, etc.

Although the intentions may be right in setting dietary boundaries in such diets, it only feeds one thing: fear. Fear of food, fear of carbohydrates, fear of sugar, and fear of living. At Astrofit, we believe that there’s more to a weight loss journey than cutting a whole macronutrient or restricting calories to the point of going insane (your body needs calories to live, after all).

It is essential to consider your very own needs before you start any diet at all:

  • Did you already succeed in a weight loss journey? 
  • Would you be able to follow a diet plan? 
  • Which diet worked for you previously? 
  • Are you comfortable counting calories
  • Do you need diet support from a trainer or coach? 
  • Do you like to have online help? 
  • Does your budget allow for supplements
  • Do you have any health condition that could limit your diet? 

Above all, before hopping into a diet it’s fundamental to realize that on the off chance that you lose weight too rapidly, which means you cut your calories too much, too fast, your body won’t be able to maintain that weight. Losing more than 10% of your weight weekly can be dangerous for the long-term; it can lead to weight gain, hormonal imbalances, and the development of eating disorders post-diet. Restricting your body of macronutrients will create a void that will lead to rapid weight loss due to a large caloric deficit, yes, but also a void that will need to be filled.

“Macro” = large scale

Macro + nutrient = nutrient your body needs in large amounts

In order for the void to be filled, your body may go through changes you won’t be able to control, such as extreme cravings, lightheadedness, water retention, high levels of bloating, etc.

Fad Diets Explained

No-carb diets have been going around for years and have instilled a fear of carbs in people of all ages. The idea behind these diets is to cut carbs completely and focus on eating proteins and fats. These diets work, short-term, because you are able to lose a lot of water weight, from a drop in carbohydrate digestion, fast.

Note: for every one gram of carbohydrate digested and stored, your body retains 3-4g of water.

In the long-term, no-carb diets can be detrimental to one’s health and fitness progress, as you deplete your body of glycogen and glucose. Glycogen is glucose stored in your muscle tissue, used for energy and strength during a workout; glycogen depletion can lead to muscle loss, lack of energy in a workout, and loss of strength. Lack of glucose in the body can also lead to major drops in blood sugar, affecting one’s concentration, energy, and ability to think clearly (foggy brain syndrome).

These bodily changes can affect your hormones as well, as cutting out a macronutrient results in a big caloric deficit, which can affect a girl’s menstrual cycle; when you cut calories too much, your body goes into “survival mode” and shuts down parts of its functions to keep you running regardless of energy (calorie) intake. This can lead to missed periods or extremely heavy flows and PMS symptoms.

Read: #GirlTalk Why You Gain Weight During Your Period

Why some people say it works: you’ll often hear people talk about how the no-carb diet worked for them. How they managed to lose fifty pounds and keep it off for all those years. When done properly, a no-carb diet can be beneficial. In order for it to work, you need to increase your fats to push your body into ketosis. This means that your body will use your fat stores and turn them into glucose, as a defence mechanism to the lack of glucose found in the body.

This ketosis will help in shedding fat. In the long-term, the lack of glycogen can still lead to muscle and strength loss. It can also lead to eating disorders, as the fear of carbohydrates is ingrained in the dieter’s beliefs. Cutting out carbs completely can also lead to major cravings and binging fits, where your body is so hungry for carbohydrates (since it’s a nutrient it needs in large amounts) that it will literally force you to eat copious amounts of carbs, without self-control. This can lead to binging habits that can lead to weight gain and hormonal imbalances post-diet.

High protein diets are also popular and go hand in hand with the no-carb diets, promoting high protein meals and little to no carbs or fats. Again, the diet is cutting not one, but two macronutrients in one’s intake. On top of creating a big caloric deficit, the diet is depriving the dieter of energy and nutrients to help muscle recovery, hormonal health, focus, strength, and muscle gain.

In the short term, you will lose weight. In the long term, your body will use the extra protein to transform it into glucose (again, because your body needs glucose to survive) by breaking down the amino acids that make up the protein cell and transforming it. Cutting out fats completely can also lead to hormonal imbalances, for men and women, as fats are in charge of keeping everyone’s hormones balanced and healthy.

Read: Calories & Macronutrients Explained

Juicing + detox teas

This one needs its own discussion, as it’s increasing in popularity from celebrities promoting it on social media during quarantine. Although the idea behind juicing is smart, where you’re filling your body with micronutrients, the extreme side of juicing is extremely dangerous. Most juicing diets require dieters to drink only juice for an extended period of time. This leads to weight loss during the juicing phase followed immediately by weight gain the second the dieter starts eating normally.

Why? Because during the juicing period, there is a major caloric deficit created from lack of macronutrients; there is usually little to no protein, high carbs (from fruits), and little to no fats (some have fats from extracting milk from nuts). The second the dieter starts eating normally, filling the body with solid foods that need to be digested, the number on the scale spikes up quickly from a spike in calorie intake. Juicing also creates a big lack of macronutrient, which can lead to muscle loss, inability to concentrate, energy drops, blood sugar drops, and loss of strength. Finally, juicing doesn’t shed fat; it sheds water weight. The weight you lose while juicing will be immediately gained back.

Detox teas are another popular trend that celebrities endorse often. It requires the dieter to drink a specific type of tea in the morning and at night, to help shed fat, cut cravings, and improve energy levels. The ingredients in those teas are often dangerous to one’s health and digestive system, as the teas are packed with ingredients that are rough on the intestines (such as laxatives). These teas help shed water weight by increasing your metabolism and helping you burn more calories during the day, but this superficial metabolism boost can lead to imbalances in the future.

If used too often, your body will get used to the metabolism boost and won’t function on its own to help you lose weight without the help. This creates dependency on the product. Some may say that it’s not a big deal, but unfortunately, long-term use of detox teas can lead to damage to the intestinal mucus lining of the intestines from the laxative-like ingredients found in detox teas. In the long-term, this can lead to extreme bloating and inflammation when digesting food, as the intestinal mucus lining is damaged and unable to protect your intestines from the acid created inside the stomach, while digesting foods.

All in all, when you can to lose weight, it’s important to remember that a healthy caloric deficit is what’s most important. You want to lose weight healthily while creating healthy habits for the long term. Quick fixes are exactly that: quick fixes. In order to keep your body healthy and shed fat, while maintaining lean mass, starting a healthy lifestyle is key. You want to start slowly implementing healthier habits, so that you can maintain your progress year-round.

If you’re not sure how to get started, contact us to book your FREE consultation with an experienced personal trainer.

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