Are Fad Diets Healthy?

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Promises, promises, promises. All fad diets promise quick weight loss, but are they healthy? Unfortunately, low-carbohydrate diets are not the fuel mix the body needs to run properly and can cause health risks over the years. The following are some important dieting Do’s and Don’ts.

Here are three good reasons to avoid fad diets:

  1. The risk of heart disease can occur on a low-carbohydrate, low-fiber diet that is high in animal protein, cholesterol, and saturated fat. All of these can raise serum cholesterol, especially LDL or “bad cholesterol." Eliminating high-carbohydrate and high-fiber plant foods, which help to lower cholesterol, can seriously injure your heart in the long run.

  2. Your risk for many cancers can increase when most fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans are eliminated from your diet. The National Cancer Institute recommends you eat a plant-based diet that is high in fiber and low in fat for good health.

  3. There is no magic to low-carbohydrate diets. If you follow them and are able to lose more weight after the first week, you do so because of a decrease in calories. Eliminating your favorite foods usually increases your cravings and you are more likely to discontinue the diet.

Good health and permanent weight loss will occur by:

  1. Increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products you eat.

  2. Decreasing high fat-foods and refined carbohydrates, such as desserts. The idea is not to eliminate, but to watch the portion sizes of these foods.

  3. Exercise, exercise, exercise on a consistent basis. Even if you only have 10 minutes to 15 minutes to walk, go for the walk. Experts say at least 30 minutes five times a week of an aerobic exercise is optimal for weight loss and to maintain weight loss.

Following these simple guidelines will promote good health and permanent weight loss for a healthier lifestyle.

Theresa R. Prendergast, LDN, RD, CDETheresa Prendergast, LDN
Specializing in Nutritional and Diabetic Education