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Eat well

Gluten-free? Cabbage-only? Diet fads debunked

With weight-related health risks a continued concern across North America, weight management is not to be taken lightly. But are fad diets to be taken seriously? Here's the skinny on quick-fix weight-loss trends.

Top diet fads

Here's a closer look at three popular diets: Gluten-Free, Cabbage Soup and Caveman.

 

Gluten-free diet

Cabbage soup diet

Caveman diet

What

Eliminate all sources of gluten, a protein found primarily in wheat, rye, barley and their derivatives. This diet was specifically created for people whose bodies can't process gluten.

This is a 10-day fast of sorts that has been around for years, with food restricted primarily to all-you-can-eat cabbage soup, plus some low-carb vegetables, lean meats and fruit, depending on the day.

Also known as the Paleo, Stone Age and Hunter-Gatherer Diet, this regime recommends eating as our ancestors did 10,000 years ago:

  • Lean meats, fish, poultry, fruits, veggies, nuts – yes
  • Dairy, refined sugar, grains, legumes, alcohol – no 

Why

Since the most obvious sources of gluten are high-calorie items like bread, cake and pasta, the elimination of these foods often leads to weight loss.

Proponents claim weight loss of 10 to15 pounds in as little as a week.

Low-carb, low-salt, high-protein, high-fibre – the Paleo seems like a no-brainer in terms of healthiness.

Why not

  • Gluten-free bread/pasta/cake alternatives tend to be even higher in calories.
  • Many of the gluten-free options use more refined grains that aren't as rich in nutrients.

It's a short-term fix that mainly rids your body of water weight that will likely return once you start eating normally again, which could lead to discouragement and yo-yo dieting. Other risks include gastrointestinal upset a lack of sufficient nutrients.

A diet based primarily on meat can get expensive and will not work for vegetarians.

 

Bottom line

It's not the lack of gluten causing weight loss – it's the lower calories. If you don't need to be gluten-free, just cut the carbs and keep the nutrients.

Crash diets have a bad reputation for a reason.

The health benefits of avoiding processed foods cannot be denied, but you may want more calcium, and extremely rigid diets aren't for everyone.

Bottom line: fad diets aren’t the answer

No one's immune to the allure of a quick weight-loss fix, particularly when staying within recommended weight guidelines can have such a positive effect on physical and emotional well-being.

Unfortunately, there really is no such thing as a quick fix, and most health experts don't recommend fad diets. When it comes to losing weight and keeping it off, the recipe is easy: exercise more and eat less. It may not be glamorous, but it really is that simple.

Whatever food plan you choose needs to be one that you can maintain. Think less in terms of a “diet” and more along the lines of a healthy lifestyle change.

Looking for recipes? Check out our recipes for delicious and nutritious meals and snacks.

Gluten-free? Cabbage-only? Fads debunked
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