Fad diet Vs Balanced diet

This post compares following a ‘fad’ diet to a healthy balanced diet,  especially for weight loss. There are so many diets out there, but information and choosing the best one for you can be overwhelming! Some diets claim to: help you detox, some help you lose weight, some to help you improve your immune system and so on and so on. Examples are;

Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Juice plus, Atkins,  Harcombe diet, Cabbage soup diet, Grapefruit diet, Egg diet, Low fat diets, 14 day juice diet, GI diet, Paleo etc etc!

Now I am not going to review each diet mentioned above and I am certainly not saying that any of these are ” wrong” (not out loud anyway!) I do have my personal opinion on them, but I think everyone has their own individual preferences. You know for yourself what works for you and what doesn’t but please answer the below questions! (If you do want a review on some of the diets mentioned above, check out my friend’s blog. Being a clinical nutritionist, she researches and looks into some of these different ‘fad’ diets, using food to balance hormone, recipe ideas etc etc. See her thoughts and ideas at: http://rosiesnutrition.blogspot.co.uk/)

Even though I won’t be telling the world my opinions of the different diets, I will however ask you these questions:

1. How many diet plans have you followed?

2. How many diet plans have you stuck to (for longer than 6 months)?

3. Do you know how to follow a healthy balanced diet specific to you?

4. How many diets were/are effective long term for you? (E.g. did you get to a point where you plateaued in your weight loss or did you feel the side effects were worse than the benefits? Did the amount of points/syns/calories change a lot-so something you thought was good was in fact worse? After a while of eating ‘normally’ did you gain weight?)

From answering these questions are there any that you would stick to for the rest of your life?…….. I’m presuming you said no (the odd few would probably stick to one or two diets mentioned) but again it’s what works FOR YOU.

I have A LOT OF PEOPLE ask ‘what food is best to eat’ or ‘how do I eat a healthy diet’ or ‘what do you look at on the nutritional information?’ Or that just want me to look at their diet diary to see if they are in fact eating a healthy balanced diet. It is rammed down our necks to eat a healthy balanced diet, we see it everywhere- on TV advertisements, NHS posters, the ‘eatwell plate’ we draw up in science classes at school etc! Yet there doesn’t seem to be that much help on how or why we should. I do believe that we should change our energy food percentages in different times in our life (e.g. low carbohydrate diet to improve energy, lose fat etc, check out this blog: https://uniquelytrained.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/a-high-fat-diet/ )

Take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of following these ‘fad’ diets to try encourage you to eat a healthy balanced diet:

Advantages of following a ‘fad’ diet Disadvantages of following a ‘fad’ diet
You can lose weight fastIt tells you what to do and how

Certain diets have support groups which makes you feel ‘accountable’ to someone meaning you are more dedicated

Some diets have rewards in place when you lose weight, giving you more motivation

Gives you confidence when you lose the weight

Choice is easy when diets provide you specific foods to eat/not eat

Some diets have resources available to make it easier such as recipe books

You can gain friends/increase your social life by going to any support groups offered

Most are for a short period of time (e.g. 1-2 weeks)

Some diets can help you increase your fruit and vegetable intake

Some can improve skin conditions as it rids the body of toxins especially on certain juice diets

Some diets help cut out or reduce processed sugary foods

-Lean muscle or fluid is lost  not actually ‘fat’ loss

It can cost a lot of money (to buy bars, powders, shakes, books, pills etc) which could be used on gym membership, exercise classes, going swimming, ice skating, rollerblading, indoor climbing etc!

You rely on someone else telling you what you can or can not eat, therefore not learning if it is good or bad for you or even why you eat those products

Side effects, sometimes there are side effects like diarrhea, hair loss, headaches or nausea

Serious health risks like kidney stones, low blood pressure etc (especially one’s that cut out nutrients our body needs)

It can trigger negative food views therefore could create eating disorders

It limits food you can eat (e.g. if it cuts out a certain food group)

On certain diets, food can be bland who wants to eat just one food item all day everyday?!

We want what we can’t have! Knowing you can’t have something makes you want it more, so you crave certain foods more

It can be boring as treats that we can include in a normal balanced diet turn into ‘forbidden’ food

You actually gain weight in the long run, going back to normal eating habits puts the weight on just as quick as you lost it, which then makes you feel negative again so the guilt/negativity can lead some people to binge eat!

Your metabolic rate is decreased quicker as you go against what your body is saying. So after finishing your diet it’s easier for your body to gain fat than it was prior to the diet! (It already lowers with age, why assist it?!)

Misleading benefits or claims made by companies, (they don’t explain possible side effects or how research methods use unfair testing) e.g. I recently read about one diet that boasts about being in many research papers, however upon reading the papers it stated “there were no significant differences compared to just increasing vegetable intake” in the results! So yes the fad diet is in science studies; but with no evidence that it is better than having a healthy balanced diet in fact it is worse!

Pressure is placed on you to lose weight rather than focusing on the benefits of long term healthy active lifestyle (which gives you a proper mindset for overall wellness), you concentrate on the immediate improvement so you can be ‘the best’ or get your rewards meaning you feel bad when you don’t reach the unrealistic goals.

Companies use clever marketing strategies, they take advantage of us by using celebrity role models to sell their diets (would you not look up to these celebrities anyway and how do you know the pictures are not photoshopped?) Or telling the consumer what they want to hear and in ways that gets your attention.

Diets have big profit companies behind them, surely they care more about YOUR PERSONAL GOALS than MONEY?! (Hint the sarcasm there?)

Rapid results are rapidly lost again when going back to your normal routine

You have lower energy, drastic changes in diet or too low calorie amounts makes you feel tired meaning you want to grab that chocolate bar!

You get stuck in a weight loss to weight gain cycle which has bad effects on your body’s metabolic rate in the long run

They can be difficult to follow if very strict such as only eating one food item! unsafe

If the diet is new there is a lack of research done so not all the risks of following the diet plan are known to a full extent, just the results are known (again notice how its mainly celebs who start these fad diets!?). So in fact it could be unsafe!

The diet creator has little or no knowledge or experience on weight management normally because it just worked for them and their friends so they jump on the band wagon to make money!

The feeling of achievement is quickly forgotten as overwhelming negative emotions of how you’ve now ‘failed’ sink in after gaining weight again as you go back to normal eating habits

You are more likely to skip meals you may find it more hassle figuring out what you can or cannot eat that you just don’t eat!

No improvement in your fitness, because you use your diet to lose weight. Some diets claim ‘no need to exercise,’ so you give up on exercise meaning you don’t get the full benefits of exercise, such as improving your cardiovascular system or increasing muscle strength or your metabolic rate or general fitness

Deficiency in essential vitamins, minerals, proteins or electrolytes

Lack of fluids means you are dehydrated, fast ‘weight’ loss isn’t in fact ‘fat’ loss but fluid loss!


Get the idea? Notice how getting things fast isn’t necessarily better! Remember FAST DOESN’T LAST!

I understand people are desperate to get results, they don’t have time, energy or knowledge to find out if diets are good or not. I think the types of personalities we have may have an effect on whether we try different diets too. Most people like to try something for themselves and come to their conclusion from their own experiences. But please do think about the above advantages and disadvantages of fad diets before you follow anything! Research into nutrition is still quite young compared to the amount of research in other areas like psychology or biology. That’s why the news will one day say ‘a glass of wine a day is good for you!’ or ‘Eat eggs everyday’ then the next ‘limit your wine intake’ or ‘have two eggs a week!’ No one is perfect, no research is perfect and we are all still learning everyday. Contrary to people’s beliefs you can still eat chocolate, crisps or whatever your ‘treats’ are in a healthy balanced diet!  I want to make life easier for others. If you have a question on a particular diet then please do not hestiate to contact me: leigh@utrainedpt.co.uk.

If you need help following a healthy balanced diet please do not hesitate to contact me and also check out this blog for help: https://uniquelytrained.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/how-to-eat-a-balanced-diet/.


Healthy regards,


Leigh Scott

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9 thoughts on “Fad diet Vs Balanced diet

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