Do you ever get bamboozled with all the conflicting reports in newspapers, magazines and on the internet about what you can and can’t eat?
There always seems to be some celebrity endorsing a new diet, isn’t there?
Or you see chefs on telly cooking with mounds of butter and putting salt in everything!
The struggle is real…
Nutrition is BIG MONEY and unfortunately, there are quite a lot of people who are happy to give nutritional advice without necessarily having the qualifications to do so.
It’s no wonder some of the patients I see feel confused about what they can and can’t eat and sometimes end up cutting out entire food groups or food types (bread and potatoes being the most common).
Do not fear! I hope these tips will help you to spot the fad diets from a mile away
- Any diet that promises a magic bullet e.g: ingredients or a product to solve your weight problem without having to change your lifestyle in any way is likely to be too good to be true.
- A diet that promises rapid weight loss of more than 2lbs of body fat a week is likely to be too low in calories and protein and will probably be hard to sustain. It is true that you can lose quite a lot of weight in the first week of changing your diet but this is often due to reducing the types of food that has a high salt content so you might be losing some extra fluid. Slow, steady weight loss is the key to success.
- Recommend magical fat-burning effects of foods (such as the grapefruit diet) or hidden ingredients in foods (the coffee diet). These diets are restrictive and yes, you will lose weight but this is not because of some magical property but because you are eating a lot less calories! There is a risk of developing nutritional deficiencies if these types of diets are continued as well as being very boring!
- Promote the avoidance or severe limitation of a whole food group, such as dairy products or a staple food such as wheat without any medical reason to do so (and suggests substituting them for expensive alternatives, special products or large doses of vitamin and mineral supplements). There really is no better way than having a range of food groups (fruit and vegetables, starchy carbohydrates, dairy and protein to ensure you are getting a range of vitamins and minerals without breaking the bank by buying unnecessary special foods. Some diets can actually be harmful, for example; evidence shows that the Keto Diet ( Ketogenic diet) recommends very low amounts of carbohydrates and high amounts of all types of fats. This diet reduces your fibre intake (a high fibre diet is proven to improve your blood lipid profile and reduce risk of cardiovascular events) . The high fat content can raise your blood cholesterol levels which causes atherosclerosis (the fatty plaque build-up on the walls of your arteries). All in all, if you are a cardiac rehab patient, this diet is a no-no!
- If it offers no supporting evidence apart from a celebrity with a personal success story, then be wary. Remember – celebrities often have their own personal trainers, stylists and even chefs so they look good. Photos of celebrities are often airbrushed too so they do not represent the general public when it comes to health.
To find good quality, evidence –based dietary information, try these sites:
The British Dietetic Association: https://www.bda.uk.com/
The British Heart Foundation: https://www.bhf.org.uk/
The British Nutrition Foundation: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/
NEWS: Our Exercise Physiologist, Scott Maguire and one of my dietetic colleagues, Laura Helm, have produced a book called ‘No More Nonsense: Weight loss’ and can be found on Amazon for £14.99. This book offers excellent advice on healthy eating and de-bunks the myths around fad diets. Worth a look!
Until next time… stay safe