Heart of the Matter – fad diets

By June Shannon Nutrition News   |   26th Apr 2018

What’s the skinny with fad diets?

Thursday, 26th April 2018

At the Irish Heart Foundation, we aim to provide accurate and evidence-based information on heart health to help you make informed decisions about your health. One of the questions we get asked a lot is, do fad diets work?

With the good weather (finally) starting to make an appearance we will begin to see the start of those awful ads asking if you are “summer body ready?”

However, if you are trying to maintain a healthy weight and tempted to try the latest celebrity diet please don’t – before you read our expert dietitian Sarah Noone’s advice.
While Sarah said the increase in people’s interest in nutrition and health over the last few years has been exciting, equally there has been the rise in the fad, factually incorrect and at times even the downright dangerous dietary advice bombarding our social media feeds and screens often supported by many celebs and self-styled nutrition ‘experts’.

"If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is"

Sarah Noone , Dietitian, Irish Heart Foundation

“When we see a celeb looking ‘picture perfect’ and ‘feeling great’ telling us they achieved this by following the latest dietary craze it can be very tempting to believe that this will be the secret or magic bullet to change our lives too. Unfortunately, most are promising much more than they can possibly deliver and if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” she said.

Sarah explained that while there were so many fad diets offering miracle weight loss, the speedy weight loss seen when following these fad diets was simply due to dramatically limiting calorie intake.

“Although you’ll probably lose weight initially, most of these fad diets are difficult to sustain in the longer term, and studies have shown that many people on these diets put the lost weight back on again within a year or so.”

"If you want to shed those pounds for good we need to forget the fads"

Sarah Noone, Dietitian , Irish Heart Foundation

She also warned that some fad diets involved severely limiting certain food groups which are nutritionally important and following them over the longer term could result in nutritional deficiencies, which can lead to various issues such a fatigue, weak bones, malnutrition or worse.

“While any weight loss will require a change to eating habits, it shouldn’t mean missing out on nutrients,” she said.

If fad diets worked then perhaps we wouldn’t feel the need to go on new ones every year and in summary Sarah said the best advice was to simply “forget the fads.”

“While quick fixes can be appealing and changing our eating habits and lifestyles can be a challenge and take time to do, if you want to shed those pounds for good we need to forget the fads. Instead we need to try making small changes and over time adapting healthy eating habits into our lifestyles which we can stick to in the longer term. Small changes sustained over time can make big differences.”

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