Dr Fuad Alsaraj, specialist endocrinologist at the Mediclinic Welcare Hospital, told Gulf News of the most common fad diets and their effects on people.
He said: “There are so many fad diets that it is hard to pick the ones that strike the most interest. Most people opt for high protein and low- to no-carbohydrate (even the healthy ones) diets. These might give results fast but the cons are not always studied by the dieter.
“I will highlight a few of the most common diets that are trending amongst dieters. First is the South Beach diet. This eating plan was designed by a Florida-based cardiologist for his patients, whom he wanted to help and prevent from developing serious medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes. The diet stresses the importance of controlling one’s hunger by eating before it strikes.
“The second is the Dukan diet. The Dukan is a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet and is very popular. With almost no limit to how much you can eat during the plan’s four phases, providing you stick to the rules of the plan, it offers a dieter the illusion of eating as much as you like.
“Then comes the New Atkins diet, which is based on its namesake with the exception that it allows a wider variety of foods to make it more nutritionally balanced.
“And lastly is the WeightWatchers diet. Based on the ProPoints system. which gives a value to items based on protein, carbs, fat and fibre content, it is essentially a calorie-controlled diet with a personal daily ProPoints allowance to be used how you like.”
When asked what effects this diets have on an individual, Dr Alsaraj highlighted that the results were temporary.
He said: “All these fad diets have one thing in common, they offer short term solutions with the long term results of gaining more than you lost and faster than you think. Examples of the most common results in long-term fad diet abuse are weight gain, nutritional deficiencies, depression, fatigue, irritability, fainting, altered metabolism, and hair and muscle loss. The risks are too high and you end up worse off than when you started.”
Dr Alsaraj offers alternate solutions to lose weight, which are sustainable in the long run.
He said: “Avoid these crash diets altogether. Follow simple tips to get you started. Reduce your calorie intake realistically with the help of a professional, exercise and limit salt and unhealthy starches in your food. Remember your body likes a slow change. When you rapidly lose the weight, it causes an imbalance and can spiral your body into starvation mode. Therefore, reduce your calorie intake and increase your exercise at a moderate pace. This is the most effective way to keep those extra pounds off while staying fit and firm. Also, don’t deprive yourself if you feel like eating something sweet. Listen to your body, but don’t eat five chocolates either.”
Dr Alsaraj placed great emphasis on an individual’s water intake.
He said: “Don’t forget the importance of water. It is essential to your health and plays a great role during weight loss. Staying hydrated prevents overeating. If you feel hungry or in the mood for a midday snack, have a glass of water first to make sure you are really hungry, and not just thirsty. Wait for 30 minutes; if the feeling is still there opt for a healthy snack. Refrain from using the statement, “I am on a diet”. Rather say that you are making a conscious decision to live healthy. Losing weight and keeping it off forever takes a permanent change of lifestyle and not a fad diet.”