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Expert highlights the dangers of fad diets

Fad diets

Mon 7th January, 2019

As the New Year gets underway, a nutritional science expert from the University of Bedfordshire has warned about the dangers of fad diets.

Dr Shaobo Zhou, a Senior Lecturer in Nutritional Science from the University’s School of Life Sciences at the Luton campus, argues that unethical fad diets can slow our metabolism and lead to bingeing.

“Fad diets, such as the Atkins, Dukan and Ketogenic iterations, restrict people’s calorie intake to one or two food groups in order to promote quick weight loss. Initially the body tries to adapt to the ‘deficient’ energy and nutrients by slowing down the metabolism, as well as reducing excretion,” said Dr Zhou.Dr Shaobo Zhou

“Starved of vital energy, as well as vitamins and minerals, the body will reach a point where it can’t further respond to long-term calorie restriction. This can result, in extreme cases, in malnutrition but more commonly the development of clinical symptoms, such as weakness, fatigue, nausea, headaches and constipation.”

Although people on fad diets may experience weight loss to begin with, this is not sustainable, and eventually the metabolism can slow down to a point where the body may not be able to burn enough calories to maintain its body weight. This may lead to severe hunger which ironically, causes people to start over-eating and gain more weight.

Dr Zhou also advises caution around diets that are endorsed by celebrities, saying: “Celebrities are not nutrition experts and celebrity-endorsed diet case studies hold no scientific merit. They target susceptible people looking for a quick fix in an unethical manner.

“The truth is, there is no quick fix for long-term weight loss. The best advice for shedding the pounds in 2019 and maintaining a healthy body weight is to follow a diet with balanced energy and nutrients, appropriately sized portions, eat regularly and be physically active.”



Bedfordshire University

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