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Fad Diet

What is fad diet?

Fad diet is a diet plan that promise quick weight loss and targeted at people who desperately want to lose weight. Usually fad diets are unbalanced, unhealthy and are very likely to cause side-effects.

How do fad diets work?

Fad diets cannot make up for healthy eating habits. Some fad diets make you lose water instead of body fat. Many fad diets cause the body to loose water through urination. At the same time you will also loose some important vitamins and minerals.

Some fad diets are popular as they do work for a short time. For example, high-protein and high-fat diets induce metabolic ketosis and are initially attractive because they may induce quick weight loss. This initial weight loss however, may be attributed in part to the diuretic effect from low carbohydrate intake and its effects on sodium and water loss, glycogen depletion and ketosis. People who are on fad diets usually end up gaining back any weight that they have lost.

Many bad diets bland and you may find it difficult to maintain such a boring and unappealing diet. As time passes, you may lose weight but you will find yourself gorging on more appetizing foods and may even gain more weight than before.

Some fad diets can be harmful. Diet too low in calories may lead to tiredness, irritability, and muscle cramps. Lack of protein and carbohydrates can also cause to dizziness, fatigue and other illnesses.

Why fad diets are popular?

Most people prefer to try the quick fix fad diets instead of making the effort to lose weight through long-term changes in their eating habits and exercise. Aggressive marketing strategies used by companies that promote fad diets take advantage of this fact. Claims made by these companies are always compelling.

Types of diets for weight loss

Diet type Rational Risk

Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD)

Very low calorie diet are defined as diets containing less than 800 kcal/day.

When energy intake is low, the body is compelled to draw the energy needs from fat stores. However, the body become efficient at functioning on less energy causing the body metabolic rate to decline The body will tend to use up lean tissue from the muscle.

VLCD is associated with a variety of side effects and with numerous complications, such as formation of stone in the gall bladder, loss of lean body mass, ketosis and increased serum uric acid concentration due to severe negative energy balance. Sudden death can occur in vulnerable patients with co morbidities especially if the energy intake is less than 600 kcal/day.

Low Fat Diets

Avoidance of foods that are high in fat, will lead to a reduction in total calorie intake.

Since this diet is low in fat, deficiency in fat soluble vitamin may occur.

High Fiber Diet

A high fiber diet can aid weight loss by increasing bulk in the diet quickly and providing a sensation of fullness.

The amount of fibre usually recommended is very high and may produce side effects such as flatulence and diarrhoea. It may worsen the condition of people with irritable bowel system. Very large intake of bran can bind minerals such as iron and zinc, and prevent their absorption in the body.

High Protein Diet

Limits carbohydrate intake to less than 30grams /day. Very high protein and fat intake delays gastric emptying, thereby satisfies hunger, minimises food cravings and restricts calorie intake.

This diet may increase intake of dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. It also lacks in fibre derived from carbohydrate rich plant foods, especially wholegrains. Possible complications are dehydration, constipation and impaired cognitive function. High protein consumption increases the kidney uric acid levels and the risk of developing and formation of kidney stones.

Advice To You

You should not experiment with fad diets without consulting your doctor. If you sense anything wrong, stop the diet immediately. Be warned that fad diets have a low chance of success and can cause side-effects.

Last reviewed : 19 April 2012
Writer : Surainee bt. Wahab