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  • Writer's pictureEmma Carpenter

Let’s talk fad diets, do they work?

Updated: May 16, 2023

Yesterday I was training some clients when we got into a discussion about diets,what are the right diets and do the Fad diets work? I am not here to bad mouth certain diets as they do work, however do they work when you get to the last bit of stubborn weight, your body type, medical conditions and even through menopause?


So firstly what do I mean by a fad diet? These are the diets that are a struggle to maintain for long periods of times. I am talking weight watchers, slimming world, Keto diet and one from the iconic Only way is Essex “no carbs before marbs!” for women especially time of the month can cause cravings which can make dieting hard. The body is made to need its ‘main food groups’ which include, carbohydrates, protein, dairy, fats, fruit and vegetables. If our body doesn’t get these in our daily intake this is when we start to get cravings. Some of these diets above makes it hard to eat all the food groups in your daily intake. Hence them not being sustainable and classed as a “fad diet.” So lets talk more about the individual diets.


Weightwatchers

This diet has been around for ages, I remember growing up as a little girl and my Mum and her friends were always on this diet. Going to their weight watchers meetings, writing down in their food diary and getting ingrossed in the diet. So how the weightwatchers diet works is that you are given points for your daily intake, depending on your weight, BMI and weightloss goal. Food is numbered in your weight watchers platform so you know how many points are eaten at each meal and how many points you have left to eat for the day. The positives is it gives you flexibility, gives you ownership of what you eat and allows you to go out for meals in the week. They give you recipes which helps you make healthier food choices. Now the downside to this diet is there is too much flexibility. Like I said above your body needs to have all of the main food groups in your daily intake, now with this point system if you are not aware of a ‘balanced diet’ you might pick more of the other food groups than you should due to the point system. It allows you to have more points. I remember my mum if she was going for drinks with the girls she would ‘save up’ her points during the day to ‘allow‘ her to go out in the evening. This is not having a healthy relationship with food, for one you are using your calorie intake on alcohol or a take away. Two you then have a ‘binge’ session, Thirdly this is not sustainable as you are not giving your body the right nutrients it needs. There are pros and cons to this diet however overall I don’t like the fact that it gives you a disordered thinking around food, therefore not being a sustainable diet in the long run.


Slimming World

This diet is one of the biggest diets around in every neighbourhood. Me and some of my clients where talking about this diet the other day. Now this diet is all about 'sins' the word 'sins' makes out that the food you are choosing to eat is a bad food and you should punish yourself for it. Now foods that are classed as 'sins' are not foods that are scientifically bad for you. For example avocado, now avocado is a great food choice for good fats. Dependent on your weight you are entitled to a number of sins a day. Pasta, potato, rice is classed as 'free' food. Now if we are talking about the eatwell guide you need to be eating carbohydrates, protein, fats, dairy, fruit and vegeatbles for each meal, you need more vegetables on your plate, your protein portion on your plate is bigger than your carbohydrates. However according to slimming world foods that are in the fat category are sins, if you have 2 slices of bread you have to sin out these foods. How is this healthy? How is this a healthy outlook on food? Can this diet be sustained for long periods of time? This diet is a good diet when you are extremely overweight as you can lose the kg's quite quickly however when you get to the point when you need to lose the last few stubborn kg's this diet makes it extremely hard. Overall again the terminology,the way this diet makes you think of food is extremely unhealthy and can cause disordered eating.


Keto Diet

The keto diet is a diet that cuts your carbohydrates right down and increase your fat intake, this diet can also be used to reverse type 2 diabetes. Also known as the 5:2 diet where you have 2 days of eating 500kcal. This is a diet that can not be substained for long periods of times due to the health risks it can come along with. You can be at risk of having low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation and risk of heart diseases. Also this can cause disordered eating due to the sheer amount of restriction this diet entails. This is also not a suitable diet for people with liver, thyroid, kidney and gall bladder issues. However this diet is amazing and scientifically proven to reverse type 2 diabetes. So in extreme cases where you have severe type 2 diabetes or borderline diabetes then yes this diet works but only for a maximum of 2 weeks due to then being at risk of becoming deficient in certain nutrients. This diet needs to be a controlled diet and to be supported by a professional as alone this diet can be dangerous and in some cases detrimental to your mental health.


No carbs before marbs

This diet isn't technically a rounded diet that is well known and used within society however this is a phrase that was created by the reality tv show 'only way is Essex.' I put this phrase in here as so many people believe that the biggest way to lose weight and the best diet to go by is to cut out carbohydrates. This is wrong as carbohydrates is one of the main foods that gives our body our energy. Carbohydrates are turned into glucose which is then used in our body to help fuel our muscles. Just eating carbohydrates isn't the answer however not eating carbohydrates at all is also not the answer. You need a well balanced diet that includes carbohydrates. So this phrase is a load of rubbish and only way is Essex can keep their phrase to themselves!


Now like i said at the beginning 'fad diets' can cause binge eating as it is a fad diet for a reason, it is sustainable. For women especially due to our monthly cycles, have progesterone and estrogen there is certain times of the month where are body is lacking in certain nutrients. This in turn means we need to consume more foods than others due to our hormone levels changing. How many of you crave, chocolate, crisps, carbs etc? I know I do and this is because at certain points of our cycle we need to be consuming more high dense foods to curb the hormone imbalance, we can become anemic, lack iron and overall just need more energy/ calories to keep our body regulated. I am a huge advocate for having a well rounded diet and that eating in moderation? This is due to suffering from an eating disorder for over 10 years and I know what restricting a diet can cause. I will never go on a diet nowadays as I have obssessive tendencies and I don't want to allow my body an excuse to try and restrict and allow any chance of my eating disorder to creep back in. These diets are made to help people but also they are businesses so they want to make money. You don't need to pay to change your diet, small tweaks, eating in moderation and lastly we are all here for a good time not a long time! So let's ditch the fad diets, let's normalise eating in moderation and let's support one another to help make better choices but also tell people it is okay to treat yourself too!


Now like I do with every blog I want to leave you guys with a few questions to think about. Has 'fad diets' worked for you? Have you experience disordered eating due to 'fad diets'? Do you believe in fad diets and if so why? How can we change our outlook on food and make the industry see 'fad diets' are not the way forward? But remember guys "Let's keep it real."



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