Fad diets and nutrition

Before and after

Much like ‘get rich quick’ schemes, people like to hear of a magical new diet plan that will have them shedding pounds of fat each day and leave them with a jaw-dropping figure.

But sadly, eating nothing but grapefruit while standing on your head is not the answer.

Whilst many of the ‘latest diets’ might have some initial weight loss results, they are unsustainable, sometimes dangerous and they can slow down your metabolism so that when you resume normal eating the weight piles on just as quick as it was lost.

I’m going to go through some of the most well-known fad diets.

Grapefruit Diet, or one-food diet

There are many one-food diets (egg, cabbage soup etc), with grapefruit being one of the most famous.The diet states you only eat one food and water, so straight away it’s easy to see that the body will be missing many essential nutrients.

Could you only eat this?

As with all fad diets initial weight loss will occur. However, dieting in this way is shown to reduce the body’s metabolism (rate of burning calories), which means that when you start eating other foods again the body burns them slowly and weight is put on quickly. One reason for this metabolism slowdown is that lean muscle tissue is lost during these diets, another huge reason not to do them. Also, food should be enjoyed! Who in their right mind would choose to only eat grapefruit?

The opposite – the body has more lean muscle, is burning more calories even at rest, and you can eat a variety of food is surely more desirable?

High Fibre Diet

States that high amounts of fibre are consumed because fibre makes you feel full and has no calorific value. Many people don’t eat enough fibre so this diet should address that, but the high intake reduces absorption of certain minerals and can lead to mineral deficiency. Abdominal cramps and flatulence are also unpleasant side effects and is a result of your body telling you no.

Liquid Diet

Consists of consuming nothing but liquids. Again, just a low-calorie diet in disguise, resulting in a ballooning in weight afterwards as well as not encouraging healthy and

Cabbage soup? No. Thanks.

balanced food choices. It’s also difficult to maintain with any kind of social life, and your date will think you’re weird if you only eat soup.

Spot Reducing Diet

Any diet that claims to help you lose weight in a specific area (such as the hips and stomach) is a work of fiction. If you lose weight then fat stores all over the body will be lost, usually in the face and neck first. It cannot be ‘targeted’ for loss in certain areas, simple as.

Metabolism Increasing Diets or Pills

The theory is that certain foods will increase metabolism. Some foods will have some effect on metabolism but single foods become tedious and are difficult to eat for a long time. Exercise will have a far larger impact on metabolism than eating a certain food.

Miracle pills such as the ones sold at MBK are useless and dangerous, and you’d be better off eating dirt. Often known to cause strong side effects and even death. They are unregulated and should be avoided like the plague.


Fad diets don’t work. They aren’t balanced. They aren’t conducive to long-term weight loss. They don’t encourage healthy eating or lifestyle change… But they do sound nice and easy.

The only time a super-low calorie diet is suitable is as a last ditch attempt  to avoid surgery in the extremely obese with body fat % of 40-50. So unless you’re having to be lifted out of bed in a crane, they’re not for you.

The only way to sustainable weight loss is simple: calories consumed < calories burnt, within an active lifestyle.

Sport with friends and family – connect and stay healthy

Whilst the theory is simple, the application often isn’t. It requires a balanced diet, which can still include all the foods you love, as well as a lifestyle change that includes exercise. If lack of exercise is the problem then many things can be looked at such as walking to work instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of the lift, joining sports clubs, working out with a friend, taking classes at home on DVDs or in groups, taking up a new active hobby etc etc… it DOESN’T have to mean slaving away in the gym or on the treadmill.

I’ll leave you with this – most obesity is due to people not doing enough exercise, not because they eat too much. I’ve seen fantastic weight loss from no change in diet at all, just an active lifestyle that includes sport and frequent pulse-raising exercise.

Good luck!