Dangers and Realities of Fad Diets

Kayla Slater, Columnist

Every year, new fad diets become popular for those who want to lose weight quickly or struggle to keep the pounds off. But do these diets work and do they promote healthy ways to lose weight? Today, it is very easy to get caught up in the inaccurate information about nutrition. Before adopting a new diet, make sure to do research to find the diet that is best for you.

One popular fad diet people are following, even if they do not have celiac disease, is the gluten-free diet. Many have decided to stop eating gluten to help lose weight. It can be difficult to follow a gluten-free diet, but more accommodating items are now on the market. Many of these products may not be healthier though because of the added sugar and fat. The pros of a gluten-free diet are that whole grain foods are encouraged and an individual may eat less packaged and processed foods. Gluten is a protein your body needs and it provides beneficial vitamins. Dieters may lack nutrients needed by the body when following a gluten-free diet. Vitamins B and D deficiencies are a concern for people following a gluten-free diet.

Another extremely popular diet trend is the Paleo diet also referred to as the caveman diet. The Paleo diet is most popular among athletes. The diet is based on what our ancestors ate as hunters and gatherers. It encourages fruits, vegetables, seafood, lean meat and healthy fats, and excludes refined sugars, grains and dairy. The theory behind this diet is that because highly processed carbs lead to diseases, they should be avoided. Unfortunately there is a lack of evidence to back up the advantages of eating a Paleo diet such as losing weight, cardiovascular benefits or preventing or controlling diabetes. The pros of the diet are that lean meats, fruits and vegetables are encouraged. The diet is low in sodium, but it lacks essential nutrients since grains and dairy are excluded.

Other popular diets are the intermittent fasting diet and the raw food diet. The intermittent fasting diet is based on the theory that our bodies are programmed to fast, so we should include fasting in our diet. All food groups are allowed, but on fasting days you are limited to certain quantities. This diet does not promote a lifelong habit and the scientific evidence of periods of fasting is controversial. The raw food diet encourages eating raw fruits, vegetables, fish and meat to retain nutrients that are normally lost in cooking. The diet recommends fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fats, but not cooking fish and meat can lead to food borne illness.

When trying to find a diet to lose weight, do your research and find the best diet for you. Most importantly, adopt a diet that promotes healthier lifestyle habits.

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