People wanting to lose weight should ditch fad diets, says a Manchester-based nutrition expert.
A new study says all diets – from Atkins to the cabbage soup plan – have similar results and people should simply pick the one they find easiest.
Haleh Moravej, senior lecturer in nutritional sciences at Manchester Metropolitan University, says many diets take the fun out of eating and become a ‘daily punishment’.
She says crash diets are only a temporary plan and can actually be harmful.
The study, by experts from the McMaster University in Ontario and the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute in Toronto, concluded that sticking to a diet is more important than the diet itself.
The scientists say the differences between diets are small and ‘unlikely to be important to those seeking weight loss’.
But Miss Moravej said: “A diet, by any name, is still all about energy and calories. Most people know ‘diets’ as temporary and highly restrictive programs of eating in order to lose weight.
“Temporary fad diets, crash diets or very low calorie diets, don’t work. People lose weight, but about 95 per cent will regain it in one to five years. Since crash dieting, by definition, is a temporary plan, it won’t work in the long run.”
Miss Moravej says the ‘deprivation’ of restrictive diets can lead to ‘binge cycles’, slow peoples’ metabolism and cause some people to pile on more weight afterwards.
She added: “Fad diets can be harmful. They may lack essential nutrients and teach nothing about healthy eating, balance and moderation. Most individuals after ‘completing’ their fad diets, simply switch back to the unhealthy eating patterns that caused their weight gain in the first place.
“Restrictive diets can take all the pleasure out of eating. Food should be fun, exciting, colourful, nutritious and provide physical and mental nourishment rather than being a daily punishment.
“There are no magic weight-loss potions. Healthy eating and exercise are actually the effective ingredients.”
What an optimum diet should have…
Miss Moravej says an ‘optimum’ diet should:
– Include exercise
– Allow a variety of foods from all the food groups
– Be created by a nutritionist or dietician
– Promote slow and steady weight loss
– Include smaller portions
– Include a maintenance plan
– Be planned for the long term, rather than a ‘quick-fix’