BALANCE: ‘Quick fix diets’ don’t only leave dieters dehydrated, but malnourished.

With the summer season in full swing, many have traded their layered clothing with summer wear.
But the reality is that despite the hot weather many still dread wearing revealing clothes due to bulging stomachs, flabby arms and extra fat on the butt.

To fix these “faults” some are subjecting themselves to crash diets such as cabbage soup diets, tea diets, juicing or intense exercise regimens, often to the detriment of their health.

But nutritional experts warn that such fad diets are not only dangerous over the long term, but their effectiveness is questionable.

Tarsha Scholtz, 24, of Cape Town, who weighed 92kg three years ago, is one of the people who confesses to having tried several crash diets.

After battling with weight issues her aunt suggested she try a 7-day cabbage soup diet.

“I was overweight then and hearing about the great results the diet sounded so appealing.”

On this diet, Scholtz explains that you eat mainly cabbage soup and a few select other foods.

“But I felt like I was on a yo-yo diet plan, I lost a substantial amount of weight within the 7 days and regained the same weight I lost as soon as I started to eat normal food. As a quick fix diet it did the trick but I must admit it was not feasible for a long-term healthy lifestyle.”

Now, Scholtz says she learnt that adopting a sustainable healthy lifestyle is better.

Louii Engelbrecht , a nutritionist and founder of Proslim, a weight management programme, says in today’s modern society the pressure of aesthetics lies heavily on women’s shoulders. As a result women tend to look for the quickest weight loss tricks to help them reach their goals in the fastest manner possible, but not always the safest.

He says there are, however, established programmes available on the market that work if followed strictly over gradual time.

Engelbrecht says “quick fix diets” don’t only leave dieters dehydrated, but it leaves them malnourished.

The side effects often outweigh the positive results. “Most fad diets such as the egg diet are not recommended as the weight loss is not body fat, but water loss.”

He said some programmes combined invasive procedures such as lipolytic fat freeze injections, which have life-threatening side effects.

Sandra Aamodt, the author of Why Diets Make Us Fat, says whatever we eat is controlled by the brain. “Whenever your weight changes too much, your brain will intervene to push it back to what it thinks is the correct weight for you. And you might not prefer the same weight your brain prefers. Many of us don’t,” she says.

These are some of the most popular crash diets:

Soup Diet

In this diet, you eat mostly fruit and soup and dieters are allowed up to 4 bowls of vegetable soup a day. Dieters avoid sugar and drink mainly water, black unsweetened coffee or tea. The diet discourages carbs and encourages the eating of raw and cooked veggies and very little protein.

17-day diet

This diet is essentially a carbohydrate cycling diet, which means you adjust your intake of carbs depending on which cycle of the diet you are currently on. You’re allowed two servings of carbs daily, and you eat mostly lean proteins, vegetables, low-sugar fruits, probiotics, and “friendly” fats.

Egg diet

It includes eating only a couple of eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables. You are not allowed sugary drinks, especially processed sugars or alcohol. Every day you should eat two eggs.

Juicing diet

This diet is quite popular among celebrities who want to lose weight within a short period. In this diet, you are only allowed to drink juice, no solid foods. It is recommended that dieters take take up to 2000 calories a day, from mostly fruits and vegetables.

This diet usually lasts seven days.