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The danger of fad diets

The anxiety to lose weight leads us to adopt risky diets for our well-being.


There are hundreds of fad diets that are published in magazines, on the internet or in books. Many focus on a single food, such as the “soup diet”; in food groups, such as the “zone” diet, exclusively protein, or by combining different foods, such as the “dissociated diet”.


All promise rapid weight loss , almost effortlessly, but the vast majority lack scientific foundation. What’s more, they are unbalanced, from a nutritional point of view, and leave out one of the fundamental pillars in maintaining weight loss: physical activity. In the long term, these diets can cause deficiencies in our body, since they lack basic nutrients such as vitamin E, A, B6, folates, calcium, iron, potassium and even fiber.



To avoid suffering the consequences of fad diets, here we show you the characteristics of each one:


Very hypocaloric diets:


They provide less than a thousand calories a day. If the body is subjected to this “semi-fasting” the immune system and resistance to diseases are weakened, and the loss of muscle mass increases. Gastrointestinal disorders, dizziness, tiredness, muscle pain, alteration in the menstrual period, insomnia, irritability and depression may occur. Eating between 600 to 800 calories a day is not enough to get all the necessary nutrients. It is possible to fast, in these terms, for a day or two, but extending it longer carries risks. Especially in children and the elderly.


Diets low in carbohydrates: 


The well-known  “Atkins diet”. The consumption of cereals and derivatives, legumes, starchy vegetables and fruits is limited. The lack of carbohydrates can lead to a lower intellectual performance due to a lack of glucose, the brain’s main fuel. There is a greater loss of fluids and muscle mass. Likewise, the release of ketone bodies occurs when the body does not receive enough carbohydrates and must burn fat and proteins for energy, which causes fatigue, dizziness, increased irritability, difficulty concentrating, and headaches. It is important to emphasize that entering “ketosis” is not automatic, it can take up to 72 hours. So going off carbs for a couple of days is usually not an immediate danger.


Protein diets such as “the zone”


They are rich in saturated fats since they emphasize the consumption of protein foods such as meats, cold cuts, sausages, eggs and cheeses. Consuming them in high amounts in the long term increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and certain types of cancer. In the case of cold cuts, most of them have a high amount of preservatives and chemical flavorings, which negatively alter the microbial flora; that is, the microorganisms that live in our digestive system.


Why are they dangerous at certain stages of life?


In the case of adolescents because they lack essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, calcium, and fatty acids, essential for proper growth. The age of 30 is the time when the greatest amount of calcium accumulates in the bones to prevent bone diseases in adulthood.


An inadequate diet in women of childbearing age can cause difficulties when it comes to getting pregnant. The ideal diet is one that includes vegetables, fruits, cereals and legumes, along with lean meats and low-fat dairy products, in addition to regular physical activity. Losing weight is purely a question of balance: to lose weight you must expend more calories than you consume.


Don’t be fooled: Weight gain doesn’t happen overnight, just like losing weight.


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