Determining the right diet for you may require research and a doctor’s visit 

Published 9:13 am Thursday, February 8, 2018

Fad or for real? 

Editor’s note: This is first in a series about how easy it is to eat healthy. 


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Welcome to February everyone! For those of you who started New Year’s resolutions a month ago, statistics say you’ve already given up. Although I certainly hope that is not the case. I believe in you!

I must say, you’ve inspired me with all of your interesting diet choices to revisit the concept of fad diets. First of all, kudos to you for having the desire to make a change in your behavior to better your health. That’s the first step in achieving good health.

But — is the diet you chose actually helping you in the long run? Let’s focus on the difference between a fad diet and a healthy one.

According to the American Heart Association, there are some red flags to look for when identifying a fad diet. Magic or miracle foods that burn fat, limiting or eliminating foods from your diet, eating exceptionally large quantities of certain foods, no health warnings, no increase or mention of physical activity and claims of rapid weight loss are some of the most common fad diet dead giveaways.

Look, I get it. Fad diets sound pretty amazing. Their claims are extremely persuasive. Who wouldn’t try a diet that guarantees you’ll lose weight fast without having to change your daily routine or hit the gym. Fad diets can help you lose weight, but you may not be aware of the negative health effects following those diets can have on your body over time. Not to mention that the weight you lose isn’t easy to keep off when you lose it the unhealthy way.

Healthy or safe weight loss is losing 1-2 pounds per week. Before you start any diet or change your lifestyle, always consult your doctor.

Common fad diets include the Atkins Diet, South Beach diet, Keto diet, the grapefruit diet ….. These diets are popular because a rapid weight loss occurs right away. Unfortunately, you’re not burning fat, you’re losing water. When the diet is discontinued, the body corrects the water imbalance, causing weight gain.

Your body needs protein, fat and carbohydrates to survive. Normally, carbohydrates are used as the body’s main source of energy. Excess carbohydrates are converted to fat and stored as fat tissue. On a low- or no-carbohydrate diet, instead of using carbohydrates as the energy source, fats from foods and fats stored in the body are used for energy. But, the body needs carbohydrates to completely oxidize the fat. The short supply of carbohydrate causes the fat to breakdown incompletely, forming ketone bodies. To rid the body of these toxic ketones, large amounts of water is excreted. Extra water is then needed to avoid dehydration.

When the body produces more ketones than the kidneys can get rid of, ketones accumulate in the blood, causing ketosis. Ketosis causes the body to burn calories similarly to a fasting or starvation state. This is an abnormal and dangerous condition, especially over a long period of time. Ketones depress appetite, which is the body’s way of conserving energy so death doesn’t occur as soon as starvation begins.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council has suggested normal adults need a minimum of 500 of their daily calories from carbohydrate sources. Diets containing less than 500 calories from carbohydrate sources use protein and fat for energy. As a result, lean muscle mass is lost.

Some popular diets simply are not healthy. Putting your body in starvation mode is not safe and burns good lean muscle in the process. Plus, there hasn’t been significant research done on the long-term effects of eating a high fat diet to maintain ketosis. 

Remember, diets of high fat foods such as heavy cream, bacon and red meat have been proven unhealthy for your heart, which can increase your risk for stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.

Now that we have covered all the things you shouldn’t do and why, let’s talk about the things you should do.

First and foremost, eat less and move more. Sounds simple, but it really is that easy. If you decrease the amount of food you eat and balance that with getting physical activity in every day, you will be on the right track to healthy weight loss. Everything in moderation —  manage your portions and move your body is the right way to go. 

For a person trying to lose weight permanently, fad diets and aids are of little value. Products such as diet pills can cause physical and emotional harm. Diet plans should be personally developed by a dietitian or nutritionist for the individual. And don’t forget — always consult your doctor before making changes. 

Next week, I’ll write about how to balance what we eat with what we do. I’ll provide some basic nutrition information as well as tips on how to eat healthy on a budget and make time for physical activity.

If you have questions or comments about the column, or if you’d like more information feel free to contact me by email at