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Life in Motion

The Truth About Fad Diets

Health & Prevention

Maintaining a healthy weight and providing your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs are essential to joint health. Furthermore, when preparing for surgery it is important that you are well-nourished and not nutritionally deficient so you get the best possible outcome and surgical recovery. A balanced diet, one that consists of all the food groups and focuses on fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources, and whole grains, is an integral part to sustaining a healthy weight and providing your body with everything it needs to stay strong.

Many popular fad diets threaten this healthy balanced diet. By depriving your body of certain nutrients and food groups, you are risking deficiencies in vitamins, fiber, or energy-providing foods. Learn why fad diets should be avoided, and why you should stick with a healthy, balanced diet full of different food groups.

Debunking the Diets

Low Carbohydrate Diets: A healthy diet includes 45-65% of your calories from carbohydrate. A person eating 2000 calories per day would eat 225-325 grams of carbohydrate per day following these guidelines. Low carb diets cut out starchy veggies, fruits, grains and sometimes dairy products. These foods are replaced with high quantities of meat, eggs, cheese, nuts and fats. A low carb diet has been shown to aid weight loss, but weight gain is common after 6 months of being on the diet. Your body (and brain) needs carbohydrates to function optimally. Focus on the sources of carbohydrates in your diet versus the amount of carbs. Avoid the processed foods and refined sugars. Choose fruits, veggies and whole grains. The carbohydrates that are found in these foods are known as complex carbohydrates and contain fiber. Fiber helps to keep us full, prevent constipation and maintain our weight.

Low Fat Diets: A healthy diet includes 20-35% of your calories from fat. A person eating 2000 calories per day would eat 44-77 grams of fat per day following these guidelines. A low fat diet can be heart healthy, lower cholesterol and promote weight loss in individuals with certain medical conditions. However, for most people, a low fat diet replaces high fat foods with high carbohydrate foods, which can lead to weight gain. Fat also promotes satiety and is needed physiologically as essential fatty acids and to absorb fat soluble vitamins. You need fat in your diet, but fat is calorically dense so focus on the amount and the type of fat you are getting. Increase the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat in your diet and decrease the saturated and trans fat (fats that are solid at room temperature). Cook with oils and choose lean protein such as fish, poultry without the skin, beans, legumes, and nuts. Don’t replace fats with processed or sweet foods. Instead, eat a diet high in fruits, veggies and whole grains. Research also suggests that people who choose full fat foods instead of the low fat or non-fat options tend to lose more weight. This may be because fats help to fill us up, so just remember to choose your fats wisely!

Intermittent Fasting Diets: These diets promote “normal” eating 4-6 days of the week and extreme fasting (usually less than 1/4 of the bodies needs for at least 16 hours) the rest of the days. Some studies have shown that intermittent fasting may reduce risk factors linked to heart disease and diabetes but these studies are limited and additional research is needed on this topic. Until then, intermittent fasting can make you feel dizzy, lightheaded, tired, and will likely negatively affect a person’s ability to maintain an active lifestyle for this reason. Athletic performance and stamina will be compromised as the body does not have the fuel it needs to maintain healthy activity levels. Instead of changing the timing, change the types of food you choose and stay well-fueled to maintain mental acuity and physical stamina throughout the day.

Detox Diets: Most cleanse or detox diets promote weight loss using detox drinks, usually lemon juice and spices mixed with water or juices. Although there may be initial weight loss, it is mostly water weight and as soon as the detox ends, the weight will be regained. The non-water weight lost is muscle, which can leave you feeling weak and depleted of energy. This diet is very dangerous! It is well below caloric recommendations and is deficient in vital nutrients, protein, carbohydrates, essential fats, fiber, and vitamins. It can also lead to fatigue, nausea, and dizziness. Finally, there is no scientific evidence that a cleanse helps to clear toxins out of the body. Our bodies are designed to eliminate toxins via the kidneys, liver, and lungs and there is nothing that will do the job as well as these organs.

Remember, healthy eating is a balanced diet that includes all of the key food groups to ensure we are getting the proper nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for our bodies!

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