A mini analysis by Tanya Rosen 

The world of dieting and nutrition could be challenging since everyone has their opinion (or rather opinions, in plural form) about it. Lots of people accept what their friends, family members, or even Google tells them about certain diets.  Until the next article or well-meaning lady in the supermarket comes along and says otherwise. 

Let’s explore some of the basics of extreme/fad diets that you may have heard of. 

 Intermittent Fasting: 

The first one is intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting involves not eating or restricting your food intake for a specific amount of hours or days of the week. Some ways are eating only between certain hours in the day, alternating days (for example, one day eating regularly and the other eating only 500 calories There is also another way called the 5:2 method, which is eating normally for 5 days and “fasting” for the other 2 days. 

It is claimed to help with weight loss, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even treating cancer. However, there is incomplete evidence to back this up. According to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, individuals didn’t have a significant amount of weight loss compared to another restricted diet. Also, blood sugar, cholesterol, and insulin levels did not improve. In fact, LDL cholesterol levels were actually higher in the group that was doing intermittent fasting. Theoretically, individuals taking vitamins or medication involving lowering blood sugar, or ones that need to be taken with food can cause serious side effects. Also, those with eating disorders or obsessive/compulsive tendencies might have issues with intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting can trigger a few characteristics regarding eating disorders. These triggers can be feeling anxious about food, an unhealthy focus on not eating, hormone imbalances, and feeling extremely fatigued.

Plus, many people mistakenly believe that in the permissible hours of eating, they can eat anything they want so they completely overdo it and never learn healthier habits. 

 

OPTAVIA/Medifast:

Optavia is a weight loss program that suggests eating one low-calorie meal along with having to purchase their packaged foods and snacks for the rest of the day’s intake. In my opinion, Optavia is a short term solution and not beneficial for long term weight loss, nutrition, and heart health for a few reasons:

  1. It is extremely low in calories which is both not sustainable for hunger and energy and slows down your metabolism.
  2. It gets expensive. You pretty much have to purchase 3-5 snacks a day.
  3. It does not teach you lifestyle habits. 

The problem with all the packaged foods… 

There is a big lack of fresh food since all of their products are processed (a lot are in powder form) making it unhealthy. Processed diet products also contain common allergens. One of these common allergens is soy. For example, soy protein is the first ingredient in their chicken flavored soup, creamy chocolate shake, and decadent double chocolate brownie. Isoflavones are plant estrogens found in soy. Consuming a lot of soy can result in high levels of estrogen which has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. 

 

The Keto Diet: 

The Keto Diet is an ultra low carb diet that promises weight loss, maintained blood sugar levels, and more energy.  It restricts you from fruits, vegetables, sugar, and most carbs. This diet requires you to plan a lot, track your carbohydrates intake,and make sure you’re not eating too much protein and even healthy fats. 

 Since one is restricted and has to take everything he or she eats into account, one small thing makes a huge difference. Some people may experience a stall in weight loss or even a regain of what they initially lost. There are also a lot of Keto “junk foods”. 

What’s wrong with restrictions anyway?

Restriction causes poor judgment and a greater likelihood of cheating on certain foods causing one to either go off the diet or gain all of the weight back very quickly. 

We all need a certain amount of energy (in the form of calories) in order to survive. That source of energy can come from food or from stored energy such as your fat tissue. You may want to lose weight quickly, but that isn’t the healthy route of losing weight. If you go on an extremely strict diet, your body will maintain stores of fat (a backup source of energy) to use when needed. Your body thinks it’s starving when on a low-calorie diet, so it slows down your metabolism to conserve energy and keep the body functioning on fewer calories. The extent to how slow your metabolism slows down depends on the foods you consume, the number of calories you intake, your general health, age, and exercise. So, when you do eat a low-calorie diet and are restricted from lots of foods, your body adjusts the number of calories it burns based on the loss of calories you consumed. Therefore, healthy calorie goals sustain a healthy metabolism while you get enough calories to support your heart, brain, and other supporting functions as well. Eat well, in moderation, and feel good!