Well, pull me a cracker! Believe it or not, the one-month countdown to Christmas is upon us – that Yuletide period of excess we all love, where everything goes, and in the case food and drink, straight to your stomach, and then, straight onto the hips.
It's the New Year, of course when people famously make their healthy living resolutions – and dieting/losing weight comes top of the list for pretty much everyone. But as thoughts turn to impending Christmas dinners, mince pies, sweets and puddings, the British Dietetic Association (BDA) has helpfully come up with its top 5 diets for your post-Christmas detox that you should most definitely AVOID:
1) Breatharian Diet
Celebrity Link: Actress Michelle Pfeiffer has reportedly revealed she was once involved in a cult that followed the Breatharian Diet. (Similar to Madonna’s alleged Air Diet, when you pretend to eat the food on the plate in front of you and fill up by gulping air).
What’s it all about? Followers believe that they do not need to eat food or drink any liquids because they can achieve sustenance from air and/or sunlight alone.
BDA Verdict: “You cannot live on fresh air alone! We cannot stress enough that people should NOT even consider following this diet. It doesn’t matter what anybody tries to tell us, or point to any kind of evidence, the basic fact is we all need food and liquid in our diet to live.”
Celebrity Link: In 2013, singer Boy George reportedly cited this as attributing to his weight loss.
What’s it all about? The BioSignature system relates to six different hormone types and fat accumulation in different body sites. The diet aims to produce ‘site’-specific body fat reduction, measured by skinfold calipers, through hormone balance. By choosing only certain foods and adding a training programme the body apparently ‘spots’ and reduces fat.
BDA Verdict: “Bio-nonsense! This diet relies too heavily on pseudo-science with only a selective grain of robust science (that hormones are involved in fat metabolism). It does not even mention visceral fat (internal fatty tissue). Many people will lose weight on this type of approach only because it restricts certain foods.”
3) Gluten-Free Diet
Celebrity Link: Gwyneth Paltrow allegedly advocates this.
What’s it all about? Cutting out gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley rye and oats and foods containing it.
BDA Verdict: Whilst important for those with coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity, there is no credible research showing that a gluten-free diet per se leads to weight loss in those without the condition. Many foods containing gluten, like breaded products, pastries, cakes and biscuits, are high in calories, so by avoiding them, many lose weight. But many believe, wrongly, they can eat as much as they like of gluten-free substitutes like biscuits, sausages and beer. Gluten-free does not mean calorie-free.”
4) Alcorexia / Drunkorexia Diet
Celebrity Link: It is widely thought that many top models and others follow this ‘diet’.
What’s it all about? It’s when people eat very few calories during the day/week and ‘bank’ these ‘saved’ calories (kcals) in order to binge-drink alcohol over the weekend, usually. For example, eat little and you could ‘bank’ 1,500 kcals a day, which then gives you 10,500 kcals to drink during the week (based on the recommended female diet of 2,000 kcals per day).
BDA Verdict: “Do not fall off the wagon! Following a VLC diet alone is madness in itself, as you will most certainly not be getting the calories, vitamins and nutrients your body needs to survive and function. Not only that, but by the end of the week when you are also tired and weak, you then subject your body to an onslaught of alcohol. Alcohol has little nutrition other than calories. This is a worrying ‘diet’ that could end up causing immense damage to the body.”
5) Dukan Diet
Celebrity Link: The Duchess of Cambridge’s mum, Carole Middleton, and Jennifer Lopez have reportedly followed this diet.
What’s it all about? This is a complicated high protein, no/low carb, four-phase diet that promotes rapid weight loss.
BDA Verdict: “Dukan do so much better! The rigid Dukan Diet works by restricting food, so restricting calories. Initial weight loss will be fluid. Even the creator of the diet, Pierre Dukan, who, in 2013 was banned from practising as a GP in France, has warned of associated issues with the diet such as lack of energy, constipation (due to lack of fibre/cutting out food groups), the need for a vitamin and mineral supplement (due to lack of variety/cutting out food groups) and bad breath.”
So what’s the best advice? It may not be as exciting, but if you do want to lose some weight, do it by eating a healthy balanced diet. Watch your portion sizes and be physically active. Think of it as a marathon approach to achieving your goals, as opposed to a sprint approach. Aim to make permanent changes to your diet and lifestyle that are sustainable in the long term, not forgotten by the end of January.