Avoid sticking to fad diets not scientifically proven, could be dangerous

Studies have shown eating low-carbohydrate diets is dangerously unhealthy. Photo: IANS

New Delhi: Some people turn to fad diets that are scientifically unproven and an unhealthy option for losing weight, experts here said noting that it can also be dangerous.

Known to be a quick fix for obesity, a fad diet looks quite appealing with several celebrities following it and sharing their experiences as well as flaunting their seemingly slim or well-toned body. Although beneficial in the short run, studies show these may affect our health as they are not wholesome.

Some of the popular diets include Atkins, paleo, keto, vegan and intermittent fasting, among others.

"Fad diets are diets which are not scientifically proven, they usually focus on one nutrient and are not a healthy and balanced diet," Ritika Samaddar, Chief Dietitian, Max Healthcare, told IANS.

"Following a fad diet would definitely show a positive result in terms of losing weight as one is eating less, but sooner or later will regain the weight. It is also not sustainable for long and following for a long time will lead to some deficiency and ill health. Because it shows quick results hence people follow but fad diets are not advisable as they can have negative health impacts," she added.

A recent study, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, showed that eating low-carbohydrate diets like Keto increased mortality risk up to 38 per cent.

Another study from the University of British Columbia in Canada showed that a Keto diet with low amounts of carbohydrates and high amounts of fats could be associated with higher blood levels of "bad" cholesterol and thus double the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Similar has been the case with the Paleo Diet which urges people to mimic pre-historic ancestors' food choices, which includes vegetables, fruit, nuts, pasture-raised meat and wild-caught seafood while completely avoiding dairy products, cereals, pulses and processed sugar.

But a 2020 study reported that following the Paleo Diet resulted in a higher relative abundance of gut bacteria that produce a chemical associated with cardiovascular disease.

"Fad diets are not scientifically approved, and these are diets that you hear about from somebody who is doing them or trying them. As these diets are not scientifically approved, they can definitely affect your organs. One should only follow these diets after consulting a good dietician,” Arun Bhardwaj, Consultant -- Minimal access and Bariatric surgery, HCMCT Manipal Hospital, Dwarka, told IANS

"There are a lot of different types of diets which have been done by people over the years such as Atkins and keto. These have benefits in the short term but are not sustainable in the long run," added Vikas Singhal, Senior Consultant, GI Surgery, GI Oncology and Bariatric Surgery, Institute of Digestive and Hepatobiliary Sciences, Medanta Gurugram, told IANS.

"Often somebody on keto or any other fad diet can become deficient in other nutrients. In the long term fad diets lead to complications,” he said.

While studies have shown intermittent fasting to boost insulin sensitivity and also prevent heart-related Covid complications, it also showed raising the possibility of fertility problems in both males and females.

In addition, a recent study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that intermittent fasting produced similar weight loss results to traditional calorie counting in adults with obesity; and its effect beyond short-term remains unclear.

"Certain diets like intermittent fasting, low carb diets, VLCD diets, meal replacement diets work, provided it has been given and explained by a certified nutritionist so that the diet is balanced in terms of nutrients and is also sustainable," Samaddar said

"Certain fad diets like keto, liquid diets, detox diets are not recommended as they can cause severe deficiencies," she added.

Further, the experts noted that one should not blindly follow any diet by just checking on the internet, rather visit a diet specialist to avoid any harm.

So to tackle obesity the experts suggested good lifestyle habits, with exercise including brisk walking, yoga, swimming, cycling, and a proper diet.

"When we talk about weight loss, it is 70-80 per cent of what you eat and 20-30 per cent is exercise. Active lifestyle or daily exercise should be an important component of weight loss management," Samadar said 

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