Are Popular Weight-Loss Programs Considered Fad Diets?

Every day we see ads on TV and on the internet about how to lose weight using different weight-loss programs. Hundreds of pop-up ads appear anywhere across the web offering rapid weight-loss plans and miracle supplements to keep your body well-toned and skinny or achieve ripped abs.

Diet programs have fancy names and equally fancy rates attached to their book guides, recipes, and food packs. Some weight-watchers claim one program worked well for them while others say the advertisements were just media hype.

Let us take a quick look at the 5 well-known weight-loss programs followed by millions of dieters all over the world. Are the claims of success real or just plain propaganda? The list is in no particular order.

  1. Atkins Diet

The Atkins Diet developed by Dr Robert C. Atkins way back in 1972 promotes a high protein, low-carbohydrate diet plan. Simple carbohydrates such as sugar and flour are omitted from the food chart. According to Dr Atkins, weight gain is caused by carbohydrates in the diet.

At the beginning of the program, carbohydrates are restricted to 20 grams per day. Adults need approximately 45 to 65% of calories from carbs, according to the USDA. This restriction may cause drastic weight loss but it would take an iron will to resist cheat days and sneak treats.

This program can have an unpleasant downside, to wit

  • Acetonemia, an abnormal increase of ketone bodies in the blood that causes bad breath and diabetes mellitus.
  • Sleep disorder
  • Vertigo
  • Constipation
  • Sluggishness

These side-effects often become the cause of why dieters get off the program and regain their unwanted pounds. The cost of this program is minimal, a paperback guide costs $16USD and the hi-fibre bars and other Atkins foods available in grocery stores cost from $5-$15USD.

  1. The Mediterranean Diet

This diet started in the 60’s in the exotic paradise of the Mediterranean where food comes from fresh produce grown in the islands. Red meat is consumed sparingly and sweets are limited to occasional. The low statistics of chronic illnesses and high life expectancy in this part of the world has prompted health and medical researchers to develop a diet plan based on the local fare.

The food pyramid consists of fresh vegetables, fish, fruits, and nuts that are prepared simply. Butter is replaced with olive oil and meat is replaced with legumes and beans for protein.

Many claimed that the Mediterranean Diet helped prevent cardiovascular diseases and other chronic illnesses. The overall program is complemented with a daily physical workout to burn the calories and keep the body fit.

This weight-loss program may cost you more money because it is general knowledge that good food costs more. But you can find cheaper substitutes for most of the ingredients.

  1. The Weight-Watcher’s Diet

The Weight watcher’s claim that you will lose up to 2 pounds per week by choosing the healthy kind of foods that are filling and would make you eat less. According to the study published in British Medical Journal in 2006, out of the 5 major weight-loss programs, only the Weight Watchers Diet Program showed significant sustained weight reduction among its followers.

In this program, members follow the “SmartPoints” where each food value is assigned with points. The points system depends on your age, gender, and weight. The higher the calories in a particular food item the higher the value. The dieter counts the points in every ingredient and eats according to the diet plan developed for him or her. Compliance with the diet plan is monitored through mobile applications that compute the calorie consumption.

Members’ monthly pass to attend group meetings cost $40USD per month and initial online counselling for $47.90 and $17.95 onwards.

  1. The Jenny Craig Diet

The Jenny Craig Diet promises weight loss with pre-packed diet package of low-calorie food. The program sells food prepared by Jenny Craig’s and you keep track of your meals and exercise program using special online tools.

During the start of the program, you only consume the pre-packed meals until you reach your desired weight. Upon reaching the target pounds, you slowly ease back to your home-cooking for 4 weeks following a low-fat, low-carb, protein-rich menu.

Non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, cauliflower, mushrooms, and asparagus you can indulge in without worrying about excess weights.

The pre-packed food delivered to your home costs about $280USD-$680USD depending on the package you choose. If you are enrolled in the program, you pay a monthly fee ranging from $14.99 to $39.99. Delivery charge for the pre-packed food is not included. This food is to be supplemented with fresh vegetables, fruit juices, and exercise.

  1. The South Beach Diet

South Beach Diet Program was designed in 2003 by Dr Arthur Agatston, a cardiologist. The plan promotes rapid weight-loss of about 13 pounds in just 2 weeks, a drastic drop that can be detrimental to the dieter’s health and well-being. By restricting the carbohydrate intake, you may lose your unwanted pounds but you will also lose the essential fibres needed for your healthy digestion.

Some aspects of this diet plan can be beneficial but it promises results not supported by medical studies or by Food and Drug Agency. You get a complete guide of the program in the books written by Dr Agatston and Joseph Signorile starting from $7.99 and onwards.

6. The Alkaline Diet

Alkaline diet gained popularity not only because of the celebrities who twitted about it or promoted its success but more so when the person who developed the idea was arrested for fraud; practising medicine without a license. So the program’s integrity was compromised. This weight-loss plan is based on the body’s pH levels. Robert Oldham Young claimed that by changing our diet into a more alkaline state can prevent serious diseases including cancer. The only good thing about this particular plan is you will be eating more organic fruits and vegetables and avoid processed foods, meat and dairy which are acidic. There are no medical studies supporting this diet.

Like any weight-loss programs promoted by the media, they are bound to cost the dieter a lot of money. All weight-loss programs sell guidebooks, recipes books, diet food and merchandising items promoting the diet plan.

The Mayo Clinic advises that, as with any other fad diets, it is imperative that you seek medical advice before you start on any program. Since dieting is restricting your body’s calorie intake, the nutrient imbalance will occur that may result in medical complications.

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