Do I look fat? Husbands, fathers, relatives and friends of almost every woman have heard this question at least a million times. As they will tell you, it has no correct answer.If you’re a woman and you’re reading this, you know what we mean. Because there’s a very high chance that you’re watching your weight – even if you’ve been blessed with a great body. Because how you feel about how fat you are boils down to your sense of self-esteem. "The current trend seems to be that one should look as skinny as possible and for most women, dieting is a way to win approval, increase self esteem and harbour unrealised potential," says dietician Rujuta Diwekar, who helped change actress Kareena Kapoor’s body type, and who will soon launch her second book, Women And The Weight Loss Tamasha. "That’s why so many intelligent, educated women behave foolishly when it comes to diets."
Even if you’re told that you don’t look fat, and the person who told you that meant it in all honesty, you don’t believe it. That’s why any conversation, or almost every search on the Net leads to diets. And this has been happening for years, so obviously, the perfect diet hasn’t been discovered yet. And just as obviously, this is why new diets crop up for women who want to lose weight.
But they’re going about it the wrong way, says Payal Gidwani Tiwari, fitness expert and author of From XL To XS: A Fitness Guru’s Guide To Changing Your Body. “Most women are obsessed with fad diets because they don’t want to sustain a disciplined lifestyle,” she says.
Many fad diets can actually harm you, says Shikha Sharma, doctor and nutritionist. “Extreme diets can cause bone loss, hair loss, weak liver, acidity, gas, indigestion and ill health,” she says. “The best way to remain fit is by learning healthy recipes and ways to cook, making exercise a part of your life, and following practical stress management techniques.”
Adds Ishi Khosla, nutrition expert and director, Whole Foods, “These diets fail to deliver. The food choices they offer are monotonous and their calorie intake is restricted.”
But fad diets will never go away, it seems. So we asked these experts to analyse the 10 most popular diets in the world. Take a look.
Just diet! Or should you?
Three nutritionists analyse the latest fad diets and tell us if they’re worth following or not
Only fruit juice is allowed – nothing else at all. This diet claims to slow down metabolism, cleanse the body, make it function efficiently and improve digestion.
Pros: It’s okay for two days or so.
Cons: Converting anything into juice robs it of antioxidants. Besides, high levels of fructose in the body can lead to cardiovascular disease and other problems.
Cons: It’s just a fad. Nothing else.
The Coconut Diet
Based on the belief that the healthiest type of fat comes from coconut oil. All meals must include coconut and drinking coconut water is a must. Jennifer Aniston is reportedly into this diet.
Pros: Coconut is a healthy fat.
Cons: In cold countries, it leads to increase in the cold energies of the body, which can lead to cholesterol deposits and heart problems.
Cons: How can one type of fat substitute for the other essential fats the body needs?
Pros: Keeps you energised because coconut has a certain fat that acts as fuel for body. Coconut water has electrolytes.
Cons: Does not provide other essential fats and nutrients.
You eat puréed fruit and vegetables (baby food) ONLY, but one regular meal is allowed. You lose weight fast
because you’re eating small portions. Jennifer Aniston is reportedly an endorser.
Pros: A different approach for someone who’s bored with the regular diet plan.
Cons: Nutritional deficiency, because adults need more vitamins and minerals than babies. Plus, since food is puréed, teeth and facial muscles are under-exercised. Will lead to dissatisfaction and weak facial muscles.
Cons: It cannot meet adult body food requirements.
Pros: Encouraging, because it includes one regular meal.
Cons: Small portions are no justification to purée food.
Cabbage Soup Diet
You eat low-calorie vegetables like cabbage in the form of soup, based on the principle that you are only taking in
water and therefore, no calories.
Actress Jaime Pressly reportedly went on this diet for a week to lose her baby fat.
Pros: Soups are good for the health and cabbage is a natural detoxifier
Cons: Will put you off soups forever. Plus there will be nutritional deficiencies, hair fall, etc.
Cons: Soups alone cannot nourish you.
Pros: Low cal.
Cons: Imbalanced and hard on the body.
Fermented tea that claims to give increased immunity. Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz and Lindsay Lohan drink this. But it reportedly contains traces of alcohol from the fermentation process.
Pros: Herbs and plants have health benefits.
Cons: Needs to be validated further. In any case, it does not promise weight loss.
Cons: The body needs carbs and proteins. Drinking only tea will take away even the tea’s benefits.
Pros: Fermentation gives you B vitamins and antioxidants.
Cons: Imbalanced and hard on the body.
This is a high fibre, low fat diet, largely vegetarian but fish is allowed. Fifty per cent of the diet consists of whole grains, miso or shoyu soups made from soya-beans, 35 per cent is vegetables, 10 per cent is beans, seeds, nuts, fruit, and sesame oil and five per cent is desserts. Meat, eggs and dairy are to be avoided. Singer Madonna is a huge fan of this diet.
Pros: Very good plan. I endorse it.
Cons: A diet should be area and gene specific to help you reap its benefits. This cannot suit Indians.
Pros: You can do this, but under expert supervision.
Cons: Deficiencies of vitamin B 12, iron, calcium.
Master Cleanse Diet
You drink a concoction of lemon water, maple syrup and cayenne pepper for two weeks – and eat and drink nothing else. Singer Beyonce reportedly went on it to look extra slim for Dreamgirls. It worked. But the pounds came back
after she stopped.
Pros: It is a good detox for one day but cannot be a diet plan.
Cons: Severe nutritional deficiencies and rebound weight gain.
Cons: Anything fizzy can lead to calcium depletion in the body.
Pros: Nothing. Very low cal.
Cons: Bizarre. Low level of satisfaction and low in calories. Cannot be followed for more than a few days.
The Grapefruit Diet
Also known as the Hollywood Diet. It dates back to the ’30s and has become popular once again. This claims that eating grapefruit every day, along with other foods, can increase your metabolism and help you lose weight quickly.
Actress Brooke Shields and singer Kylie Minogue are fans, we hear.
Pros: The fruit factor.
Cons: Fad diet for bored people.
Cons: Fruit is best eaten first thing in the morning or after exercise. Eating fruit after meals is not going to help. Besides, local fruits are good for you. If the fruit has travelled a long distance, it will have no benefits.
Pros: High on nutrients.
Cons: Something that’s difficult to do every day.
Raw Food Diet
This is a growing trend. You have to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and simple grains. Some people like to add fish, raw eggs and milk to this diet. Rumour has it that Demi Moore is on this to look young forever.
Pros: Raw food can raise energy by keeping your glycemic level steady through the day. It can also increase immunity by giving you a variety of bacteria that can aid in digestion.
Cons: Certain raw foods can be good for you, but cooking doesn’t take away many health benefits. Some foods in their raw state can be dangerous, such as buckwheat greens and kidney beans.
Cons: Will expose you to chemicals. Indians have a tradition of protecting the body by cooking and that suits us best.
Pros: High on nutrients, keeps you away from processed food.
Cons: All raw foods are not safe.
The diet centres on a 40:30:30 ratio of calories obtained from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Another key feature is an intake of a particular ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. A Zone meal is: As much protein as the palm of your hand, as much non-starchy raw vegetables as you can, enough carbohydrates to maintain mental clarity because the brain runs on glucose, and enough monounsaturated oils to keep hunger away. Actress Sarah Jessica Parker is reportedly into the Zone.
Pros: Keeps changing every day.
Cons: Needs to be planned by someone who knows about food values and nutritional information.
Cons: If you have to follow a rigid system and don’t enjoy eating what you’re supposed to eat, what’s the point?
Pros: Keeps you feeling full. Easier to follow than others.
Cons: Quality of fat needs to be looked into. Indians may not be suited to this.