Diet fads: Lose some, gain some

How to lose weight’ is the Holy Grail of Google Search. Aditri Jain will tell you that.

Published: 14th April 2019 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th April 2019 07:48 AM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

How to lose weight’ is the Holy Grail of Google Search. Aditri Jain will tell you that. The Mumbai-based dietitian had her own weight issues. Trial and error with various diet programmes piled on the kilos rather than helping her lose the flab. It was only when she attended a seminar on nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics that she realised that the reason could be that her DNA was the truant. She went in for comprehensive tests and sure enough the results revealed her sensitivity to various macronutrients, intolerances to certain foods, lifestyle diseases and much more. “Our on-board dietician gathered the information on her food habits, quantities, ratio, calories and she was put on a protein-rich diet. With regular follow-ups, she finally managed to lose weight,” says Milind Doshi, CEO of Mumbai-based Nutritional Genomix.

Anyone huffing along the weight loss path must remember that there are no magic foods or pills to zap the fat away. No superfoods will help alter your genetic code and definitely no products will miraculously melt fat while you watch TV or sleep, as alluring as the concept may seem. Also, if you lose weight quickly, you’ll end up losing muscle, bone and water. And the moment you are off your diet plan, you will be more likely to regain the pounds… if not more.

If that does not put you off, also know that some ingredients in so-called miracle supplements and herbal products can be dangerous and even deadly. But despite all this there are quite a few of us happily lapping up the next fad diet on the horizon, which almost always emerges in the West with celebrities becoming the brand ambassadors for the next best go-to diet regime. By the time these trends move to India and such other countries, the West is already endorsing the next weird diet. Sample this: Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon swear by the Baby Food Diet.

More suited for toothless babies—they believe eating mashed and puréed foods curbs cravings and promises weight loss. Before Kim Kardashian became the most photographed celebrity on planet earth, her go-to diet was the wonderful-sounding Cookie Diet. Not to be outdone, Beyoncé follows a liquid and laxative diet to drop pounds quickly. Weird as it may sound, her 14-day regime consists of a diet of fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne, and water (plus a laxative in the morning and at night). In case you want to give it a shot, make sure you stay close to a bathroom. And celebrities are still raving about the virtues of the Keto diet, Paleo diet, Mediterranean diet and the Intermittent Fasting diet.So what are the diet fads that are in fashion now? Which is that one diet that can promise us the perfect natural Instagrammable click with maybe just a touch of six or seven-odd filters? Let’s forage.

Volumetric Diet
Invented by Dr Barbara Rolls, this diet talks about increasing the energy density of food/meal. One can consume the food items having higher volume of fibre, water and less of calories in them. These include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, beans, low fat dairy products etc. This diet has physical activity as a prerequisite along with maintaining a food diary.


  •  Does not ban any food, but rather suggests increasing the amount of low-calorie density foods and restricts high-calorie density foods
  • Backed by science
  • Emphasises more on consuming nutrient-rich whole foods
  • Flexible in nature and is not a crash diet


  •  Requires a lot of cooking skills and time to cook a variety of food products
  • Since it has no rigid rules, compliance can be a problem
  •  As it involves low-calorie foods, the diet provides only short-term satiety

Flexitarian Diet

As the name suggests, this type of diet encourages increased intake of plant-based food items and moderating the consumption of animal products, making it different from simple vegetarian or vegan diet. The diet provides a flexible window for those who do not want to give up on non-vegetarian food completely. It is more of a lifestyle modification rather that a dietary pattern. This diet discourages consumption of processed foods, refined carbohydrates, fast food and added sugar or sweets.


  •  Since this diet promotes eating more of plant-based foods, it has been shown to be therapeutic in nature and can help manage diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypercholesterolemia and prevention of cancer


  •  Due to less consumption of meat and animal products, the person following the diet may face various nutritional deficiencies such as zinc, vitamin B12, iron, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids



It is a combination of two diets—Mediterranean diet and DASH (dietary approach to stop hypertension) diet. This diet focuses on improving the mental health as well as the heart health of the consumer and is also known to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It encourages the intake of whole grains, beans, berries, nuts, green leafy vegetables, fish, poultry, olive oil etc, and limit the intake of red, saturated fats, cheese, sweets, fried, fast foods etc. What makes it different from the regular Mediterranean diet is that it recommends eating certain foods at certain frequencies such as eating at least six servings of green leafy vegetables, two servings of berries, five servings of nuts, more than three meals of beans in a week along with three servings of whole grains in a day and using olive oil as the primary source for cooking.


  •  Improves heart health, since it restricts the consumption of bakery products and refined foods and limits the consumption of red meat, cheese and butter
  • Lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s
  • Since the diet is rich in antioxidants and Omega 3, it can help in reducing inflammation and oxidative stress which can delay the signs of ageing and also combat cancer


  •  Requires mindful planning of the meals to ensure proper intake of foods


Nordic Diet

This diet originates from the Scandinavian regions and is quite similar to Mediterranean diet, which encourages eating whole grains, lean meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts etc. But Nordic diet encourages intake of canola oil while Mediterranean diet requires olive oil. It also stresses eating seasonal locally grown foods along with focussing majorly on local fish, which are found in plenty. The ideal meal in a Nordic diet is composed of a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.


  • Helps in maintaining heart health, keeps blood glucose level in check, improves lipid profile of blood, prevent constipation and even cancer
  • Supports seasonal, locally grown and harvested foods
  • The food consumed in this diet usually has a low glycemic index and high satiety value


  •  Only highlights the local foods of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, leading to availability issues for people living in other countries
  •  Can be costly
  • Requires a lot of planning and cooking time
  •  There are very few recipe books available for this diet

Ornish Diet

Dean Ornish invented the Ornish diet, which is similar to vegan diet but the fat intake is completely restricted. As per the guidelines, one can consume a large amount of whole grains, fruits and vegetables along with low or non-fat dairy along with fat contributing to less than 10 percent of the calories. It advocates avoiding red meat, full-fat dairy and even poultry, besides products that contain oils like nuts, avocado etc. Also, a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity is advised along with yoga and meditation.


  •  May prevent or even reverse heart diseases
  • Provides more food per calories when compare to other diets
  • Focuses more on stress management
  •  Researches have shown that it supports weight loss
  •  This diet will help you consume the recommended quantity of fruit and vegetable
  • Since this diet is more alkaline in nature, it can help in combating acidity and even osteoporosis
  •  Most of the recommended food is low in sodium


  •  Since it is so restricted in fat it is not sustainable
  •  Due to fat restriction one cannot consume the rich sources of Omega 3, an essential nutrient found in nuts and seeds
  •  In the long run, this diet leads to Vitamin B12 and iron deficiency


Eco-Atkins Diet

A vegetarian version of the famous Atkins diet, it suggests a high-protein low-carbohydrate diet but instead of non-vegetarian sources, the protein is derived from plant sources such as soy, beans, legumes and non-starchy gluten. The major difference between the regular Atkins and Eco-Atkins is that the former allows only 10 percent of calories coming from carbohydrates, while the latter allows 31 percent of calories from carbohydrates, 26 percent from plant protein and 43 percent from plant fat sources such as nuts, avocados and soy. This diet restricts starchy vegetables and refined cereals.


  •  Easy to follow
  •  Not very expensive
  • Since it includes consuming a lot of plant-based foods, it is high in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants and it can boost your immunity and reduce oxidative stress
  •  Researchers have found that it helps lower cholesterol and is effective in weight loss
  • Cons
  •  Has restricted menu so availability can be an issue
  •  Eating out has to be well-planned
  • Can lead to Vitamin B12 deficiency


Vedique Diet
Based on Vedas or ayurveda, it believes that our body is composed of the five elements—space, air, water, fire and earth and three doshas: vata (air), pitta (fire) and kapha (water). All the three doshas are present in the body but there is only one dominant dosha known as prakriti, the secondary dosha and the third dosha have minimum effect on our body. Imbalance of any dosha can lead to diseases associated with it. When a person eats according to their prakriti and maintains a balance between all the three doshas, a healthy life is guaranteed. This diet is not based on the concept of calorie counting but on eating as per your body’s constitution. It promotes consumption of a high-fibre diet rich in whole grains and proteins.


  • Since you eat as per your constitution, future medical issues can be avoided. Also, it is therapeutic in nature which helps in resolving existing medical issues.
  • Easy to follow
  •  Promotes wholesome eating and not calorie counting
  • Does not eliminate any food group from the diet


  •  One needs to consult a good ayurveda practitioner, which is sometimes rare to find
  • The results take time


Alkaline Diet

Robert Young created the controversial diet, which claims certain diseases are caused by high acidity in the blood and so you should aim to consume foods that will balance your pH levels. The idea of balancing your acid levels through diet was debunked by many nutritionists


  •  The plan promotes consumption of healthful foods
  • Keeps the stomach and bile function healthy and regulated
  •  Promotes radiant skin


  • The ‘doctor’ who founded it was convicted of practicing medicine without a licence
  •  No scientific data backs it


5-Factor Diet

There are plenty of celebs who are fans of the 5-factor diet. Fitness expert Harley Pasternak is famous for starting this diet trend. Essentially, every meal should contain just five components: protein, complex carbs, fibre, fat, and fluids. Everyone following the plan should allow themselves five meals per day with just five ingredients each.


  •  Less restrictive than other meal plans
  • One cheat day is allowed per week


  • Medium level of cooking ingenuity is needed to incorporate all food groups
  •  Takes time to show results


Dukan Diet

This fad diet reminds many of Atkins. Dr Pierre Dukan, a French general practitioner, created the diet. It consists of meals that are high-protein and low-carb. There are four phases of the diet: The first two are when you’ll lose the most weight, and the last two are designed for long-term maintenance.


  •  High-protein and low-carb is a good combination for the system
  •  Plentiful of meal options available


  • Difficult to stick to in the long run
  •  One might end up with weight gain


Dos & Don’ts

  •  Use your discretion and only believe information from a trusted source—a professional with recognised medicinal and nutrition qualifications, who will dole out a diet plan keeping your weight goal, and medical condition in mind
  • A diet that promises quick, dramatic or miraculous weight loss may be a costly proposition as the weight lost may be easier to gain once off that plan
  • Avoid food and nutrition information or advice that promotes ‘certain’ foods and bans others. The body needs all important food groups in varying proportions.
  •  Avoid ‘miracle’ pills, potions or weight loss supplements that are often promoted as ‘fat burners’ and ‘metabolism boosters’; these may do more harm than benefit
  •  One size doesn’t fit all. So what may work for A may not work for B; pick and choose wisely.


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