Don’t Fall for Fad Diets: Just Go Vegan

C’mon, admit it: You’ve tried at least one fad diet in your life. Hopefully, not one of these 10 weird diet crazes but probably something equally strange and ineffective.

It didn’t work, did it? At least not for very long. Don’t feel too bad. Everyone gets suckered sometimes. Those so-called “miracle” weight-loss plans can be as tempting as chocolate cake. The upbeat advertisements, slim spokespeople, “revolutionary breakthrough” technologies, and outlandish promises from so-called medical “experts” can be pretty hard to resist.

Even sensible people can start to think, “Well, maybe this diet is different.” But most trendy weight-loss schemes aren’t only too good to be true—they’re also unhealthy and even downright dangerous.

Take the infamous Atkins diet. No one can eat high-fat and high-calorie foods, lose weight, and be healthy. But plenty of people fell for it—at least until it landed them in the doctor’s office.


High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate: A Deadly Combination

The Atkins craze lasted for quite a while compared to some fad diets. Newly formulated low-carb foods suddenly started hitting the market, and people began eating red meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—even as a snack. But although high-protein, low-carb diets may work for a short while, the pounds almost always come back with a vengeance—and bring serious health problems with them.

James Anderson, M.D., a professor of medicine and clinical nutrition at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, said that the Atkins Diet is “absolutely the worst diet you could imagine for long-term obesity, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. If you wanted to find one diet to ruin your health, you couldn’t find one worse than Atkins.”

There are similarly detrimental diets, though. The Zone diet, for example, features mostly fatty animal-based foods. High-protein, low-carb diets can cause the body to go into a state of ketosis—meaning that your body basically shuts down. (If you’re picturing a zombie movie—well, you should probably watch a little less TV. But ketosis isn’t a very lively state to be in, either. In fact, it can be deadly.)

According to the American Heart Association, “[h]igh-protein animal foods are usually also high in saturated fat. Eating large amounts of high-fat foods for a sustained period raises the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and several types of cancer. People who can’t use excess protein effectively may be at higher risk of kidney and liver disorders, and osteoporosis.”

Crazy Diet Crazes

Beware of any diet that makes bizarre, hard-to-believe, or largely unsubstantiated claims. The blood-type diet, made popular by Eat Right for Your Type by Peter J. D’Adamo, N.D., falls into all three categories. It has been criticized by scientists and health professionals alike. The theory—that people should choose a diet based on their blood type—has no scientific basis, and D’Adamo’s “advice” can cause more harm than good.

In the essay “Blood Type Diet: Fact or Fiction?,” Michael Klaper, M.D., writes that “despite widespread knowledge that many non-Caucasians are intolerant of dairy products … [the book] recommends that ‘Type B’s of Asian descent may need to incorporate them (dairy products) more slowly into their diets as they adjust their systems to them.’ … I fear that the consequences for many … lactase-deficient readers … will be severe bouts of abdominal cramps and diarrhea.”

In other words, if you’re not Caucasian—and even if you are—you may be lactose intolerant, and eating dairy products, as D’Adamo suggests, might make you sick to your stomach. But, hey, anything to drop a few pounds, right?

I didn’t think so.

When it comes to unhealthy, dairy-laden diets, Slim-Fast takes the cake. PETA evaluated a few popular weight-loss plans and couldn’t even come up with one positive thing to say about Slim-Fast. In fact, PETA urges people to eat plant-based foods rather than meat, eggs, or dairy products.

You might think that PETA, as an organization that advocates a vegan diet, would approve of the grapefruit diet or the cabbage-soup diet, but some versions of these diets allow people to eat meat. If you’ve learned anything from what you’ve read so far, you should know that meat is not a healthy part of any diet.

And although grapefruit and cabbage are healthy foods—and people who eat them along with other healthy foods may indeed lose weight—it’s not healthy to rely heavily on one food for weight loss. It’s too restrictive and won’t supply all the nutrients your body needs.

Besides, if all these “miracle” weight-loss plans were truly effective, there wouldn’t be so many overweight people in America.

Tried-and-True Weight-Loss Tips

Losing weight really isn’t all that difficult. If you want to slim down—and save animals—try going vegan. It’s easier to maintain a healthy weight if you eat plant-based foods rather than animal-based ones, because most plant-based foods are naturally low in fat and calories. They’re also high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, which help boost your metabolism so that you burn more calories. There are overweight vegans and skinny meat-eaters, of course, but on average, vegans are 18 percent thinner than their meat-eating counterparts.

According to the American Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition, vegans and vegetarians have a lower body weight than meat-eaters and are less likely to suffer from cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

And eating a vegan diet isn’t really like being on a “diet” at all—it just means that you make certain lifestyle choices, ones that not only boost your health but also help animals and the environment. It’s really easy to find vegan foods nowadays—most supermarkets, restaurants, and even ballparks offer tasty vegan options. If your meals consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, soy product, and other plant-based foods, you’re bound to lose weight. No doomed diet required.

Written by Heather Moore