Expert speak on weight loss: Following fad diets blindly may backfire


Let’s admit it. We all aim for instant gratification in this ‘click-and-get’ era and the scenario is pretty much the same while it comes to weight loss. With body image issue looming large among the millennial generation, all we are looking at a magic pill that promises to help you shed those extra kilos with an incredible rapidness. That’s what popular diets mostly promise: A promise that only yields temporary results with immense health consequences.


Most of these fad diets run on principles that make you follow an extreme meal plan. For example, some recommend only protein intake, shunning all other major nutrients like carbohydrates, fats, etc. while others suggest that you stick to only fruits and veggies. Following these fad diets will not allow you to meet your daily dietary requirements, leaving you sick. Your weight-loss mission will also not be successful as it requires a balanced approach.

The other problem with these fad diets is that they are not tailor-made according your genetic make-up and health conditions. According to a study the journal Genetics, weight loss diet alone cannot be successful. The success depends, to a large extent on how it interacts with your genes. That’s why the same diet may work for you, but not your friend or vice versa. There is no single diet plan that works for all while it comes to weight loss, as every individual is born with a different body composition and lives with diverse health conditions. While this is not to say that you should write off all the popular fad diets, it’s a good idea to consult a certified nutritionist before you start following one. This will help you customize that particular diet according to your body and health conditions.


Here, nutritionist Purwa Duggal guides you through 5 fad diets and their impact on your health.

Atkins diet

Is a low carbohydrate diet program. It is based on the core principles of regulating the overall caloric and carbohydrate intake, rather than the fat intake alone to aid weight loss. It propagates intake of high amounts of protein while limiting the intake of carbohydrates. The suitability of western diets to the Indian scenario can be questionable.

Points to ponder: Atkin’s prescription of a high-protein, high-fat and low-carbohydrate diets may pose serious long-term health risks such as heart disease, impaired kidney function, diabetes and even osteoporosis due to increased calcium loss. Also read about Kim Kardashian’s Atkins diet: Is it a safe way to lose weight post pregnancy?

Raw food diet

Refers to the diet comprising of unprocessed foods that may be eaten raw or uncooked and contains active enzymes. The main components of a raw food diet include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, beans, legumes and seaweed. This is because, several food experts believe that when food is cooked, the essential nutrients are destroyed. And hence, you must consume food in the original form to retain all the nutrients. While the raw food diet does increase energy, promote weight loss and lowers incidence of disease such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular ailments; the long term benefits are questionable.

Points to ponder: Not everyone may be able to tolerate the raw foods. Adherence to the very strict dietary regime may further aggravate problems by inducing nutritional deficiencies such as calcium, iron and protein, calories and vitamin B12 deficiencies.

GM diet

It is a 7-day meal plan with only select foods to be consumed each day, with the inclusion of 10 glasses of water and total abstinence from alcohol. Originally planned for the General Motor employees, the principle behind the diet is that you burn more calories by eating the food mentioned in the meal plan than other foods.

Points to ponder: The real problem of this type of diet plan is that the body holds back the fat reserves and burns muscle for energy to perform daily chores. The initial rapid weight loss is mostly water loss. However, as the person goes back to eating normally, there is a rebound; which leads to gaining back all the lost weight. If followed repeatedly, this diet can deplete the body of nutrients and energy. Here’s more on the side effects of GM diet.

Blood type diet

The principle of blood type diet is that whatever you eat reacts chemically with your blood type. So if you follow this diet, which is designed based on your blood type, then the body digests the food more efficiently. Moreover, it also helps you lose weight, prevent you from diseases and up your energy. Each blood type will have its unique diet and exercise prescription, including recommended foods and foods/food groups to avoid.

Points to ponder: The limitation is that it may cause serious nutrient deficiencies since foods will be restricted for each blood type. Not consuming meat may cause mineral and protein deficiencies, but eating too much of meat instead of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can up your risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Dairy products are to be abstained by blood type A thereby increasing the risk of developing a calcium deficiency and osteoporosis. Also read about do blood type diets work?

South beach diet

This type of diet is low in carbohydrates, high in proteins and fats. It aims at making food and lifestyle changes.

Points to ponder: A major risk from this diet is ketosis, which is seen in the case of severe carb restriction. And this can lead to symptoms such as nausea, headache, mental fatigue and bad breath; sometimes dehydration and dizziness.

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