‘Fad diets’ what are they and are they any good?

Whether it’s reducing your BMI ahead of trying to conceive or changing your lifestyle and nutrition to get your body in check before starting fertility treatment, it can be a little confusing which foods you should be eating . . . and then there’s fad diets, are they any good? Will they help?

To find out more on ‘fad diets’, we ask nutritional therapist Sue Bedford for her take on them . . .!

We all know that it is that time of year again, when some people say I am ‘on a diet ‘and I am frequently asked the question ‘What do you think of this diet’?

Well usually the answer is ‘not a lot’!

So, what exactly are fad diets?

There are many diets which are being promoted as the best approach to losing weight. Unfortunately, many of these diets involve eliminating foods that contain necessary nutrients. Some diets even cut entire food groups, whilst others restrict calorie intake – sometimes drastically. These are fad diets.

Some examples of fad diets may include those that are high in protein or low in carbohydrate or high in fat or fat free. Some fad diets focus on a particular food, such as celery or grapefruit. Some allow you to consume certain foods, aslong as you eat them along with certain other foods, whilst others tell you to eliminate certain foods at certain times of the day.

So what is bad about ‘Fad diets’

Generally, the recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men but there can be slight variations to this depending on occupation, metabolism, size and lifestyle.

Cutting calories down significantly under the daily requirements can affect the immune system, cause dehydration (which can also have the knock-on effect of causing constipation) as well as causing a general reduction in energy leading to fatigue.

In the long term, Fad diets can actually lead to weight gain. This is because these sorts of diets are often unsustainable and also often don’t involve a modification of lifestyle, so when they are stopped people quickly go back to their old ways- and this can mean piling the weight back on. These diets can also affect metabolism over time (how quickly the body uses energy) and cause it to slow down leading to weight gain and health problems that are associated with this.

There has also been evidence to show that these diets can cause visceral fat to develop over the long term around vital organs and can lead to other problems such as atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.

So what is the best way to lose a little weight if you need to, feel healthy and sustain this?

The key here is to do it gradually, over time by eating a healthy, wholefood diet which contains:

  • At least 5-7 portions of fruit and vegetables DAILY (juices, smoothies, soups and stir fries are a good way to get these in!)
  • Plenty of legumes, nuts and seeds
  • Wholegrains
  • Slow release carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes and porridge instead of ‘white’ processed foods contain quick release sugars
  • 1-2 portions of good quality meat each week bought locally (grass fed/free range/organic)
  • At least 1-2 portions of fish each week – oily if possible, such as wild salmon
  • 6-8 glasses of water each day
  • Oil such as olive oil
  • Choose some exercise that you enjoy and do at least 30 minutes every day – stick at it by working out how you are going to incorporate it into your day

Take a look at the Mediterranean lifestyle and food and you won’t go too far wrong!


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