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The Rise of Faddy Diets

Fad1There are thousands of faddy diets out there making various bold claims like, ‘lose 2 stone in 2 weeks,’ though the truth is that there is no miracle diet to lose weight.

Although you may see quick results with fad diets, it takes hard work, regular exercise, a healthy diet and no shortcuts to maintain results over a long period of time.

The idea of a fad diet is to gain mass interest with quick results but with no real concern for the long-term effects of the diet.

In this blog I have analysed the 5:2 Diet and the Velocity Diet, both of which seem to be a popular choice at the moment, to see whether these diets really work and their effect on our bodies long-term.

Intermittent Fasting (5:2 Diet)

The ever popular 5:2 diet plan has been all over forums and news articles recently, with most of the reviews being very positive.

The idea is to consume a normal diet of 2500kcal (for men) or 2000kcal (for women) for 5 days of the week and basically eat what you want on these “feeding days”. On the other two days, you drop down to a mere 500kcal (for women) or 600kcal (for men – lucky you!).

Dieters have recorded a reduction in body weight as well as improving cognitive function which has then been linked to ultimately increasing life-span. It’s no wonder so many people are opting for this diet, however, let’s look into it in more detail and the effect it will have on athletic performance.

Diet Summary

Pros: Fast results on body composition.
Cons: Likely to relapse and put weight back on.

Meal Example (500-600kcal day)

Breakfast: 1 x hard-boiled egg and a satsuma.
Lunch: Small bowl of lentil soup with a rice cake.
Dinner: Grilled chicken breast with vegetable cous cous.

Effect on body composition

Many individuals and scientific studies have shown impressive weight loss with intermitted fasting. Sticking to the diet for 5 weeks has shown weight loss of up to a stone. It is clear that reducing your calories considerably will result in weight loss which could then positively affect your health and prevent diseases.

However, benefits of fasting are unproven and long-term effects of this diet have not been documented so you should seek professional advice if you are thinking of starting this diet.

Effect on athletic performance

Athlete specific fasting has already been recognised due to the religious practice of Ramadan (fasting food and drink from sun-up to sun-down). Although the 5:2 diet is not as extreme, it still suddenly forces your body to adapt to a drastic change in calorific intake.

Some believe athletic performance will only be affected if the individual athlete associated hunger as a feeling of weakening. Therefore, if you can manage hunger well and even think performing on a fuller stomach is worse, then research has shown no negative impact will be shown on athletic performance during fasting.

Velocity Diet (V Diet)

Maybe not so well known is the Velocity Diet, a liquid diet which involves you drinking 5 shakes a day for 28 days with one healthy meal a week.

You also need to supplement with fish oil, a greens supplement, fibre supplement and in some cases a fat burner. While it promises fast weight loss with no muscle loss, the V diet’s many disadvantages make it a poor choice for sustainable weight loss.

Diet Summary

Pros: Simple & convenient
Cons: Expensive

Meal example

1. Low carbohydrate protein blend, along with all the relevant supplements.
2. On your ‘meal day’ try incorporating all food groups in one meal. Try grilled tuna steak with patatas bravas and asparagus spears.

Effect on body composition

Weight losses of up to 20lb in 28 days have been recorded, as well as adapting to not eating any unhealthy foods.

If your main goal is to lose body fat this diet will no doubt work, however, due to the extreme nature of the V diet it is assumed that as soon as you have completed the 28 day program, chances are you will regain all the weight you lost.

Effect on athletic performance

It is well-known that a low carbohydrate diet has negative effects on the body which would result in impaired athletic performance. Your body relies on glycogen stores to fuel your muscles, so if those stores are in short supply it will use your fat stores for energy. Not only is this less efficient energy source, it will lead to a decrease in your performance.

Overall Conclusion

Fad3There is no doubt either of these diets will give you positive results and in not a lot of time.

However, the facts are that all fad diets are short-term and will not be easy or healthy to sustain over a long period of time. Most of all the weight you have lost will quickly begin to reappear, leaving you right back to where you started.

I am a firm believer that there is no need to exclude any food groups. Each food group is essential in order for you to get all of the important nutrients to function normally. Cutting out foods groups can be detrimental to your health and leave you feeling fatigued and ultimately unwell.

In contrast, fad diets have been documented to help shed excess weight before a particular event or competition. This should be done with sufficient support and knowledge and realising that one day you will not be able to carry this diet on. So, even though the idea of losing a considerable amount of weight in a short space of time does sound like the answer, it pays to create a healthy diet plan along with an exercise regime and stick to it. Remember that changing one thing at a time and making realistic goals will help you reach your desired weight loss, but most importantly help you make these changes for a lifetime.

Just for fun, here are my top 3 Most RIDICULOUS fad diets I found whilst researching:

1. Chewing diet: Chew food 30-80 times before spitting it out!
2. Tapeworm diet: Ingest beef tapeworm eggs in a pill format and once you have reached your weight loss goals take medication to kill the tapeworm!
3. Diet sunglasses: Blue is apparently the most unappetising colour of food. These sunglasses are tinted blue which will seemingly put you off eating anything!

Tried any faddy diets? Did they work for you? Leave comments below or ask any questions you might have in relation to my blog post.

About Alison

Alison Hedley is one of our nutrition bloggers also working as a Senior Development Technologist for the sports nutrition company Whilst completing her MSc in Sport & Exercise Nutrition she also worked at the Carnegie Centre for Sports Performance, advising athletes and sports teams on their diets. Alison is a very keen runner and enjoys reading and writing anything to do with sports nutrition. Please feel free to ask any questions or suggest future blog topics. View all posts by Alison

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