Dietitians are on the front lines of nutrition news, and these are the fad diets they believe don’t live up to the hype.
1. Military diet
Dietitians and nutritionists hope the Military Diet, which allows fewer than 1,000 calories per day and emphasises processed foods such as hot dogs and saltine crackers, disappears in 2018.
The diet promises four kilos lost in a week and is super specific about what to eat at each meal.
For example, one breakfast includes five saltine crackers, one slice of cheddar cheese and one small apple.
It’s only three days long, so it’s certainly not teaching long-lasting lifestyle changes.
Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, RDN says the cons (short term, some low-quality processed foods, and inadequate fibre, vitamins, and minerals) outweigh the few pros (teaching portion control and including a few fruits and vegetables).
Her advice: “The Military Diet would need a major makeover to be considered healthful, so I’d recommend sidestepping this one for good!”
2. Ketogenic diet
Super hot this year, the ketogenic diet consists of 75 percent fats, 20 percent protein, and only 5 percent carbohydrates.
The metabolic goal is to utilise the fats as energy (and ketones, one of their biochemical byproducts) instead of glycogen (stored glucose, or blood sugar).
After about four days of inadequate carbohydrate for fuel, the body shifts to a state of “ketosis” (burning fat instead of stored glucose) which can be verified through a simple blood or urine test.
Weight loss will occur on a ketogenic diet, but it’s not sustainable. According to Petra Colindres, MA, RDN, multiple nutrient deficiencies (notably fiber, vitamins, and minerals) exist on the keto diet, and the scientific research just isn’t there yet.
Ketogenic diets have shown promise for paediatric epilepsy and is being studied in conjunction with other diagnoses as well.
But, for long-term weight management, Colindres states keto can’t even be tweaked to be healthier.
3. Paleo diet
Registered dietician nutritionist Sharon Palmer, MS, RDN, cannot believe the paleo diet is still going strong,
“The emphasis on meat and avoidance of grains and legumes is unsustainable for the health of people and the planet,” she says.
Paleo diets encourage high intake of red meats and animal proteins, and the elimination of dairy, grains, legumes, and many fruits.
Naturally low in calories and carbohydrates, the diet will help with weight loss but there are potential health consequences.
We’re talking anything from fatigue, headache, constipation, and mood swings to increased risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
It’s time to set paleo aside and embrace healthy foods from all food groups.