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Why fad diets can do more harm than good

Avni Kaul

If a diet seems too good to be true, it probably is

By Siddhi Jain

March 27, 2020 (IANSlife) Often, when one gets frustrated with normal dieting, or when it gets monotonous, it's natural to get attracted to a newer, seemingly-more interesting option that is the hot trend. This is how fad diets enter the horizon.

The fad diet is simply like any other trend. It is a diet that instantly becomes quite popular. It mostly promises to assist people to shed more weight in short durations, giving extreme results without undergoing any major lifestyle modifications and severely limiting food choices, wellness coach and founder of Nutri Activania Avni Kaul told IANSlife.
These diets generally seem to work, at least in the beginning. The testimonials sometimes show before-and-after images of people who were able to lose kilos so quick that their routine dresses become oversized.

Kaul adds: "Fad diets can lead to rapid results, though this is mostly because the body is responding to the diet by losing lean muscle mass and water weight. The instant decrease in muscle mass, in reality, is detrimental to weight loss, as greater muscle mass contributes to weight. The loss of water weight will be reversed when the person gets hydrated."

The reality? Healthy weight loss involves lifestyle modifications and gradual weight reductions. 

To break down, 0.5 kg fat is equal to approximately 3,500 calories. This is well over the average regular caloric intake for both men and women. The average man should eat around 2200 calories per day, and the average female about 1900. 

It means that in order to reduce a healthy amount of weight in a week, a person requires cutting over a day’s number of calories. When the calorie deficit is spread out over 7 days it averages to be a decrease of 500 calories per day. This is reasonable. Reducing 500 calories in a day can be achieved by having small and frequent meals of reasonable portions. Reducing weight at this rate is healthy, achievable and can lead to lasting changes.

Sadly, fad dieting is one of the areas where, if it seems like it is too good to be real, then it is not true.

Not only is it unrealistic, these fad diets mostly range from mild to excessive unhealthy. Meal plans such as the Paleo or the Atkins diet, might not put anyone in the hospital, but they are so restrictive that the majority of the people get frustrated and stop.

Another extreme diet, such as the Air Diet, which is actually what it sounds like with permission for the occasional bowl of salted water, is highly extreme that it can lead to serious and large-scale bodily harm.

Weight loss is not a thing you can achieve over a weekend, and diets that make tall claims can cause added problems, more than they claim to prevent. Lasting lifestyle effects take time and are best used at a speed that is easily adaptable.

Also, every individual is different so it is better not to follow a diet that some other person is already following. Remember every diet is not suitable for everyone.


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