Atkins, Keto, Cabbage Soup Diet, Paleo. The list of fad diets is endless. Each purports to be the real secret to instant and sustained fat loss. Many do indeed show pretty impressive results at first, but adherence is often an issue due to the extreme restrictions these diets impose. Here we take a look at some of the most popular diets and their shortcomings.
The basic principle of the ketogenic diet is to force your body to utilize fats as opposed to carbs as its primary fuel source. This is achieved through the strict restriction of dietary carbohydrates & proteins and drastically increased dietary fat consumption. When you restrict the body’s access to carbohydrates & proteins and deplete it’s stored glycogen, it will begin to breakdown fatty acids and produce ketones. Your body will then use these ketones as its primary fuel source. Once your body is using ketones for fuel, your body has achieved ketosis.
Getting into ketosis
The reality is that it is incredibly difficult to force your body into a state of ketosis. It is suggested that, to achieve ketosis, as much as 70% of the food you consume should be fats. This drastically narrows the foods you’re able to eat in any significant quantities. Most people who claim to follow the keto diet will most likely not achieve ketosis due to unintentional overeating of carbohydrates or protein.
Measuring ketone levels can also be challenging as some of the testing methods aren’t entirely accurate. The cheapest and most commonly used tool is the urine strip. This is the least precise way to measure ketone levels. You can also use a ketone breath meter, which is more accurate than the urine strips but still isn’t entirely accurate. The most precise way to measure ketones is a blood ketone meter. These can be incredibly expensive but are much more reliable than the alternatives.
Keto for athletes
There are question marks over the suitability of the ketogenic diet for athletes and physically active people. One study found that athletes on a ketogenic diet experience a 4 to 15% lower level of performance compared to the high-carbohydrate control group. However, some experts believe that, after an adaptation period, the ketogenic diet can be suitable for endurance athletes. The truth is that there is not yet compelling evidence for or against this, and, in the absence of definitive proof, experts advise erring on the side of caution.
Cabbage Soup Diet
The cabbage soup diet is, pretty much, what it sounds like. You eat next to nothing other than cabbage soup. You are afforded a couple of other foods such as meat and milk, but, mostly, you are confined to cabbage soup. The key to this diet is severe calorie restriction. As caloric restriction is the basis of every diet (that works), it is no surprise that restricting calories so drastically produces immediate, significant weight loss.
The secret of the cabbage soup diet
The problem with the cabbage soup diet is the severity of the calorie restriction. When you deny your body sufficient calories to perform, it responds by lowering your metabolic rate. This is the rate at which your body burns calories. The problem with a reduction in your metabolic rate is that, when you ‘complete’ the cabbage soup diet and return to a standard diet and increase your calorie consumption, you are now eating calories that your body no longer requires. Your metabolism will eventually return to normal, but, in the interim, the excess calories will be converted to body fat, meaning you put on all the fat you lost from the cabbage soup diet and, often, even gaining extra weight on top.
On top of this, your body can only burn so much fat in the space of a week. Much of the weight loss you see from this diet will be water weight and glycogen stores. When you eat carbohydrates and proteins, your body converts a certain amount of them to glycogen and stores them in the liver and muscles. When your body is deprived of calories, it draws on this glycogen and the accompanying water for fuel. As soon as you return to a regular diet, your body will replenish these stores.
One of the original ‘fad diets,’ the Atkins diet, is named after its creator Dr. Robert Atkins. Much like the Keto diet, it requires the participant to reduce their carbohydrate intake. Where it differs is that the difference is made up by protein as well as fat.
The risks of low-carb
The low-carb principal has come under fire in recent years, with some experts suggesting that severe carbohydrate restriction can be dangerous. One meta-analysis found that low-carb dieters were 32% more likely to die prematurely from any cause when compared with participants on the high-carb diet. Experts involved in the study postulate that this is due to the reduced intake of fiber, which aids the digestive process.
Further, the increased protein intake has been linked with an increase in levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and an associated increased exposure to the risk of heart disease. A high protein diet may also increase the amount of calcium excreted through urine; this can lead to osteoporosis and/or kidney stones.
In the early 2000s, there was a flurry of deaths that were linked to the deceased’s use of the Atkin’s diet. Deaths from heart and kidney related problems appeared to correlate with Atkin’s diet usage. However, while there seemed to be a correlation, it is impossible to prove the deaths were linked to the diet and not caused by other factors.
Staying safe when dieting with an allergy test
Before starting any diet, you should consider the potential effects of the foods involved. Allergies and intolerance can lead to any results being masked or overshadowed by symptoms. You should take an allergy test to assess whether you may be swapping body fat for any one of several symptoms that could have serious adverse health implications. An allergy can result in anaphylaxis, which is a potentially fatal condition. To assess whether or not you’re exposing yourself to this risk, you can take an allergy test.