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New Year’s Resolution: Avoid Fad Diets

ScritpSave WellRx image of a healthy diet

by Benita M. Daniel
University of Arizona, College of Pharmacy
PharmD Candidate, Class of 2017

The beginning of the New Year is often the time to set new goals and resolutions for the upcoming year. It’s an exciting time to start new resolutions that will help you succeed in the coming year. One of the most common New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight, stay healthy, and save money.

Fad diets are typically known for the potential to achieve rapid weight loss, even without the integration of any physical activity. However, it is important to keep in mind that these diets are harmful to the body since it usually restrict one’s nutritional intake. A healthy approach to losing weight is to include a well-balanced diet with physical activity.

Here are some of the examples of fad diets that were popular mainly in the year of 2016:

Military Diet Substitutes – This rigorous diet only allows the consumption of 13 specific food items such as peanut butter, grapefruit, eggs and bananas. It is commonly referred to as a crash diet.

Atkins 40 – This strict diet regimen focuses on a net carbohydrate intake of 40 grams per day. It’s a low carbohydrate diet with very little sugar intake and avoids all types of refined carbohydrates. It’s important to keep in mind that the recommended daily intake of carbohydrates is around 250 grams.

Mono Diet – This diet typically focuses on the consumption of a single food group. For instance, Taco diet, Pizza diet and Chicken Nugget diet.

Ketogenic Diet – This high fat diet calls for at least 70 percent of fat intake per day, in addition to less than 10 percent of carbohydrates and 20 percent of protein. This diet emphasizes on plant based beneficial fats, rather than the saturated animal fats such as cheese, cream and butter.

These diets might promise fast weight loss, however, it is significant to note that the consumption of a single food group or ingredient does not adequately provide all the nutrients that are essential for the body. It is vital to focus on well-proportioned diet that includes all food groups: protein, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, and legumes with a moderate consumption of fats and oils. Additionally, it is important to remember that the long-term effect of fad diets can be dangerous to the body and cause potential complications.

Potential complications that could occur from following a highly restrictive diet are:

  • Vitamin deficiency – Most diets often do not include food groups that are rich in vitamins and essential elements. It is important to ensure that you receive the essential elements and vitamins that are vital for body functions and to prevent any long-term chronic condition. For instance, Calcium is an essential element that plays a key role in bone growth and in preventing chronic conditions such as osteoporosis.
  • Improper long-term weight control – Most people tend to have a tough time following through fad diets due to its strict regimen. Furthermore, it is also noted that most people who achieve the goal through rapid weight loss often quit immediately upon reaching the goal due to the high restrictions associated with it.
  • Increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides – Certain diets that consists of high-fat diet such as ketogenic diet can sometimes lead to increased levels of cholesterol, which may require treatment with cholesterol medications, like Crestor (rosuvastatin) or Zocor (simvastatin).
  • Ketosis – This can occur when you consume a high-protein and low carbohydrate diet. It is essential to meet the daily-recommended intake for carbohydrates in order to avoid some of the side effects such as headache, constipation, fatigue and dizziness.

Some ways to achieve a healthy lifestyle and to ensure safe and appropriate weight loss include:

  • Create a meal plan that focuses on a balanced diet that incorporates all food groups including fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat, whole grains, legumes with moderate consumption of beneficial fats derived from fish and plants and minimal consumption of saturated animal fats. It is also key to avoid any consumption of processed foods, like pre-packaged meals or lunch meat. Those foods can be extremely high in sodium.
  • Focus on portion control by limiting the serving size per meal rather than avoiding major food groups
  • A healthy balance to weight loss is incorporating physical activity that is equal to the amount of calories you eat. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a healthy routine to lose weight that includes at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise every week.
  • It’s important to consult your physician or a dietitian before starting any new diet.


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