Off the eaten path: A look back at the diet fads of 2017
Sustainable and short-term were the hallmarks of the most popular weight-loss plans of the year. Be sure to consult a nutritionist if you want to try them out too.health Updated: Dec 24, 2017 09:54 IST
As you binge on Christmas cake and wedding buffets, here’s a SWOT analysis of the top diet fads from 2017 — for those considering adopting one in the new year.
Sustainable and short-term seemed to be the hallmarks of the most popular diets in 2017. Unlike the juice fast, master cleanses and Atkins diets popular over previous years — all of which required great sacrifices and immense discipline, aside from posing threats to overall health — this year saw the rise of the ketogenic diet, egg diet, intermittent fasting and souping. While also unhealthy in the long-term, these are more doable and less damaging when practised for a few weeks up to a few months.
The ketogenic or keto diet works on reducing carbohydrate intake so that the body burns more fat for regular energy consumption. The intermittent fasting diet includes 8 to 16 hours of fasting per day balanced by a healthy and nutritious diet. Souping involves consuming all meals in liquid form, four to six times a day. The egg-diet is a protein-rich, low-carb one that focuses on eggs, poultry and fish.
The Ketogenic diet
This high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet is ideal for losing weight quickly. “About 70% to 80 % of the diet includes fats, and only 5% is carbs,” says Dr Rajeswari Shetty, head of the clinical nutrition and dietetics department at Mumbai’s SL Raheja Hospital. “This tricks the body into burning accumulated fats for energy, leading to weight loss.”
The keto diet includes a four-meal day. An egg or a slice of cheese for breakfast, or about two slices of buttered bread; some groundnuts or soya bean for evening snack. For lunch and dinner, have green and leafy or non-starchy vegetables such as bitter gourd, bottle gourd, zucchini, broccoli, lettuce, spinach etc cooked in olive oil or some butter.
“Since you eliminate several items from your diet, such as fruits [because of the sugar] and grains, you must keep a check on essential vitamin levels. It is common to take supplements for all the B Vitamins if you’re on the keto diet,” says Dr Shetty.
“Two of my four meals include about 200 ml of coffee with cream, no sugar and no milk, along with one rusk. I ate vegetables cooked in butter, and a cube of cheese or cottage cheese twice a day,” says Priya Bathija, 47, who was on the keto diet for two months. “For years, my weight was stuck and wouldn’t drop. A relative suggested keto. I lost nearly 7 kg in the first two months.”
“The diet helps you lose weight quickly, and is known to increase insulin sensitivity and help keep blood sugar levels low. But avoid following it for a stretch of more than eight weeks,” says Dr Shetty. “In the short term, side effects can include headaches and constipation. But these will settle within a week. The more worrying are the longer-term side-effects. One may develop kidney stones, or low blood pressure.”
After you go off the diet, you will need to eat healthily and exercise regularly to keep the weight off. “The advantage is that once you see the change, you are motivated to maintain your healthier body weight,” says Bathija.
“Fasting is very tied to the Indian way of life, even though it is often for religious reasons,” says nutritionist and author Kavita Devgan.
The new trend is to have a window of 8 to 16 hours a day when you don’t eat anything but fruit and fresh juices. That’s intermittent fasting, and it is believed to help reset your metabolism, particularly if you have a sedentary lifestyle or a particularly poor diet.
“Through the day, you should make sure you get enough lean proteins, dairy, vegetables, nuts and beans,” says nutritionist Neha Arora. “Many people follow a 12:12 schedule, which makes it easier to follow.”
Continued for too long, though, intermittent fasting could cause severe nutrient deficiencies. It is also not recommended for those with fluctuating blood-sugar levels, or heartburn.
“Side-effects may include acidity and flatulence,” says nutritionist Trupti Gupta. “One must take professional advice as deficiencies, muscle loss and dehydration may set in if the diet is followed incorrectly over a period of time.”
IT professional Daivika Khavshe, 22, began the intermittent fasting diet six months ago after she realised that her hectic schedule was affecting her health adversely. “The best thing is that it is not a diet per se, but a pattern of eating,” she says. “It was easy to fit it into my lifestyle.”
Souping is being called ‘the new juicing’, with the added benefit of incorporating less sugar.
“This is a low-calorie diet, so you will definitely lose weight,” says Arora. “However, it should not be undertaken for more than a month at a time. And even then, it must not be devised based on tips from the internet. Proper guidance from a nutritionist is needed.”
Over the longer term, you could end up with nutritional deficiencies. “Such diets eliminate entire food groups. A soup-only diet could make a person protein-deficient,” says Ritika Sammadar, chief dietician at the Max Superspeciality hospitals.
Keeping the weight that you lost off will also be a challenge. “The body becomes used to having only liquids and once you go off the diet, your weight could bounce back. You could also end up with problems like acid reflux, diarrhoea and nausea because your stomach has grown to unused to solids.”
The Egg Diet
This is a diet low in calories and carbohydrates and high in protein. The idea is to help the body burn calories and lose weight without sacrificing muscle mass.
The diet is focused on eggs because it checks all three boxes best, but also allows for lean protein like fish and chicken and low-carb vegetables like broccoli, mushrooms, spinach and zucchini.
“There is a risk of nutritional deficiencies in such mono-diets where you consume foods from just one food group, sacrificing various nutrients and micronutrients,” says Samaddar. “So much protein over a longer period could also lead to high levels of uric acid, which is associated with gout.”