We're definitely spoiled for choice when it comes to diet and health these days. With new diet fads popping up all the time, it's difficult to pick the right one on your quest for healthy living.
While you may be tempted to choose a trendy diet that guarantees quick weight-loss, know that effective dieting is more involved. Here, we look at four trending diets and break down how they work, who they're intended for and whether they're sustainable.
The General Motors Diet
What is it? One of the most popular diets, the General Motors diet is a seven-day weight-loss program where you eat fruits on day one; vegetables on day two; fruits and vegetables on day three; bananas and milk on day four; tomatoes, mutton, beef, chicken, fish, cottage cheese and brown rice on day five; red meat and vegetables on day six; and brown rice and fruit juice on day seven. Additionally, you need to drink 10 to 12 glasses of water and incorporate 45-minute walks into each day.
Who's it for? This diet helps jump-start weight-loss by creating a calorie deficit, and the water intake boosts your metabolism. Expect to lose between 5 and 7 kilograms each week while on this diet.
Can it be sustained? This short-term diet can be practised more than once, but experts recommend a five- to seven-day gap between attempts. This diet also doesn't pose the protein and micronutrient deficiencies that come with eliminating pulses and grains, and is typically followed up with a week of high-protein, low-carb meals.
The Ketogenic Diet
What is it? The keto diet, advocates low-carbohydrate, moderate-protein and high-fat meals featuring foods like fried eggs, roasted chicken, cottage cheese and full-fat dairy. The stress is on avoiding carbohydrate-rich foods, processed foods and trans fats.
Who's it for? A lot of people in India choose this diet despite its challenges because it helps with weight loss, but it's good for people with type 2 diabetes, too. In the absence of carbohydrates, weight loss occurs because your body is forced to burn fats for energy instead. This process lowers your body fat, but also produces ketone bodies — acids that are toxic upon build-up. If you have kidney disease, approach this diet with caution, as high ketone levels will make your condition worse. And it's not intended for children, as the lack of carbohydrates may cause stunting.
Can it be sustained? Researchers say that a long-term keto diet (up to 24 weeks) helps obese people lose weight and normalise lipid and sugar levels, but sometimes only temporarily. Possible side effects of this diet include low blood sugar, high cholesterol and kidney stones. Some women experience menstrual irregularities. Indigestion, constipation and low-grade acidosis (a disturbance in the body's acid-base balance) are fairly common and usually fade away as your body adjusts to the diet.
If you're on the keto diet for more than two weeks, you could develop ketoacidosis, a condition in which your body produces too much acid in your blood. This disrupts your body's chemical balance and can be fatal.
The Whole 30 Diet
What is it? While on this 30-day elimination diet, you'll cut out sugar, alcohol, pulses, grains, dairy and food additives. Eggs, meat, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, however, are encouraged.
Who's it for? People who want to know how what they're eating is affecting them. Researchers at the University of Michigan say that diets like Whole 30 can help you identify allergies and sensitivities but shouldn't be regarded as safe or effective ways to shed kilograms.
Can it be sustained? Whole 30 is designed not as a long-term solution but as a way to understand how your diet affects your body. Eliminating foods that provide much-needed macronutrients for 30 days or longer can lead to nutritional deficiencies and sagging energy levels. Your body might also bloat once your normal diet is resumed after 30 days.
The Paleo Diet
What is it? The Paleo diet, which focuses on foods available during the Paleolithic era, advocates protein- and fibre-rich foods while avoiding packaged and junk foods.
Who's it for? This diet can kickstart weight-loss because it eliminates grains, legumes and dairy, is high in nutrients, and is low in salt, sugar and fat.
Can it be sustained? This diet eliminates three major food groups — cereals, pulses and dairy — that are chief sources of carbohydrates, protein, calcium, fibre and vitamins, so long-term adherence will affect your nutrition. Digestive issues, compromised muscle and bone health, and blood sugar disturbances are known side effects.
While trendy diets are one way to get excited about your weight-loss journey, it's important to follow them up with food choices that promote healthy living. Use this information to move ahead with a more well-rounded approach to your diet and health. And before starting any special diet, it's a good idea to meet with a qualified nutritionist or physician, so they can evaluate your health and provide actionable advice.
Disclaimer: This publication/article/editorial is meant for awareness/educational purposes and does not constitute or imply an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation of any products. Please consult your doctor/healthcare practitioner before starting any diet, medication or exercise.