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Nutrition and Hydration Week 2015 – Fad diets

shutterstock_100828183Our in-house Dietitian Ruth Smith offers her advice on fad diets this week in the first of a five part series for Nutrition and Hydration week.

Many of us would like to lose a few pounds and get tempted by the ever increasing range of ‘quick fix’ and ‘miracle’ options making unrealistic weight loss promises with minimum effort.

Sadly, there is no magic solution to losing weight and keeping it off long-term.

What is a fad diet?

A fad diet is a kind of plan, often becoming fashionable and endorsed by celebrities, where you eat a very restrictive diet with few foods or an unusual combination of foods for a short period of time and often lose weight very quickly.

There are several problems with fad diets.

  • They can limit the intake of important food groups which can limit essential nutrient intakes, such as calcium, iron, or B vitamins.  In the short term this may only lead to minor ailments such as feeling tired, however, in the long term this can lead to nutrient deficiencies such as iron-deficiency anaemia or osteoporosis.
  • They can be based on having a very low energy (calorie) intake which can leave followers feeling very lethargic with poor concentration levels in the short term, and in the long term can actually increase energy retention leading to rapid weight gain after the diet as the body adapts to no longer being in “starvation” mode.
  • Very often the dietary restrictions advised are not realistic to follow long term due to the short term implications described above, and therefore, followers fail to stick to the recommendations for very long and feel like they have “failed” which makes them feel worse about themselves and may lead to them giving up on “eating healthily” or trying to lose weight altogether.

The only scientifically proven method for long term weight loss is to reduce your energy (calorie) intake and increase your energy expenditure through physical activity.

For more information on how to do this please see:

Disclaimer: This information is provided to promote healthy eating in the workplace for healthy individuals.  It is not intended for the use of anyone who is pregnant or has a medical condition.  For individual advice, please see your GP for referral to a Registered Dietitian (RD).

Posted in: Dietitian - Ruth Smith, News

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