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The Truth About Fad Dieting

Do Diets Really Work?

Every week there seems to be a new dieting fad that promises that you will ‘drop a dress size in only 2 weeks’ or ‘lose a stone in under a month!’ There are dozens of different diets ranging from the master cleanse diet where you can only consume liquids, to the 3 hour diet where you’re allowed to eat small portions of food every three hours throughout the day! So how can all these different diets promise the outcome of your ideal weight in only a few weeks? Are they really just a fad? 

The 3-Hour Diet

In this diet you’re allowed to eat whatever you want in small portions every 3 hours! Sounds perfect doesn’t it? The idea of eating constantly is so that your metabolism is constantly working at a high rate and burning fat. Fried chicken, burgers and chocolate are all allowed in this diet! The theory behind this diet is that there are no bad foods, just bad portions. Who would say no to a diet that lets you eat a McDonalds?

Pros:

  • You can eat what you want!
  • Tackles late night eating and binge eating

Cons:

  • As you can eat whatever you want it can often lead  to an unbalanced diet
  • Doesn’t highlight the importance of exercise

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Atkins Diet

Basics of the Atkins Diet

In this diet you’re only allowed to eat lean protein and low-starch vegetables, cutting out simple carbohydrates such as sugar and flour. No carbs are allowed so say goodbye to pasta, bread, rice, cakes etc! Dr Atkins’ theory is very simple: when you cut out carbs, your body will be forced to burn fat and you burn more calories when your body burns fat compared to with carbohydrates, therefore you’ll lose weight more quickly! Dr Atkins claims you can lose 6-10lb in the first 2 weeks of the diet, which will slow down to 1-3lb a week as you continue the diet. But is the Atkins Diet as good as it says it is? 

Pros:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Encourages people to cut out processed carbohydrates and alcohol

Cons:

  • Does not provide enough energy in the form of carbohydrates, so the body is forced to go into ketosis which causes additional strain on the kidneys.
  • After cutting out carbs, if you start eating them again then it’s highly likely you’ll regain all, if not more than, the weight lost during the diet!
  • Due to the ketones produced in your body it can cause bad breath, tiredness and nausea!
  • Cutting out certain food groups really limits what you can eat and can also cause your body to lack certain nutrients such as calcium, fibre and potassium
  • It could lead to serious long term health issues and a high intake of fat may increase the risk of heart disease

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The 5:2 Diet

 

 

Everyone’s been talking about the 5:2 diet this year! It’s more than likely that you’ve heard of it or know of someone who’s tried it. This diet is as simple as it’s name; you eat normally for five days a week and then fast on the other two days. People love this diet because you’re allowed to eat what you want for most of the week and only have to diet for two days! But is it really as effective as everyone says it is?

 

Pros:

  • Sticking to a  diet for 2 days is a lot more achievable than sticking to a 7 day diet
  • Fasting for 2 days a week can lead to rapid weight loss

Cons:

  • Skipping meals can cause dizziness, nausea and tiredness which will affect work and daily activities
  • You still have to be careful what you eat on the non-fasting days otherwise this diet won’t have any lasting effects!
  • Other side effects are difficulties in sleeping, headaches and bad breath

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The Dukan Diet

 

This is a low carb, high protein diet with no limits on how much you can eat during the four phases. During the first phase (5 days) you’re on a strict protein diet based on low-fat, rich protein foods such as chicken, turkey and eggs. During this phase even vegetables are banned! Surely that can’t be healthy, right? The next three stages of the diet allow a gradual introduction of some fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates. The Dukan Diet aims to promote gradual and sustainable weight loss and encourages exercise. But is this the diet for you?

 

Pros:

  • No counting calories involved
  • You can lose weight very quickly

Cons:

  • At the start of the diet people often experience side effects such as tiredness, nausea, dizziness, a dry mouth, and bad breath due to cutting out carbohydrates. 
  • Cutting out fruit and vegetables in the first stage can lead to you lacking in vital vitamins and nutrients
  • Rapid weight loss is unsustainable and unhealthy
  • This diet isn’t nutritionally balanced and puts you at risk to long term health problems

 

So are these diets really worth it? As you can see, the cons of all of these diets far outweigh the pros! Although they promise what seem to be miracles, the majority of these diets don’t promote sustainable weight loss and are very hard to stick to! The best way to lose and maintain a healthy weight is to eat a balanced diet and control your portion sizes. Most of these dieting fads neglect the importance of exercise, which has actually been proven to be even more important than your diet in weight loss! So don’t put yourself through the pain of trying to stick to one of these diets, just simply try exercising and eating more healthily, and you’ll be surprised at the results.

 

 

Photo credits: www.pinterest.com

 
Charlotte is a Psychology student just finishing her fresher year and is also the deputy editor of health and fitness for Her Campus Exeter. She loves lunching and going out with her friends, and if it's a Monday or a Thursday you'll always find her in mosaic! In her spare time she loves keeping fit in the gym or running by the quay on a sunny day.
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