These days, it seems like every health and wellness influencer is spruiking some sort of diet trend on their social media, but not every internet star has the professional knowledge of a nutritionist or dietician to properly advise people on these lifestyle trends. While a food or diet trend on its own isn’t a bad thing, But people attempting to undertake a new diet trend based on misinformation can put their health at risk. Jacqueline Alwill is a nutritionist and HIVITA Health & Beauty Ambassador, and she has revealed the truth about five of the most popular diet trends right now.
1. Celery juice movement
“This current global trend has certain health and wellness circles believing that drinking at least 500mls of celery juice each morning has extraordinary health benefits including the ability to cure chronic illnesses,” says Jacqueline. “Celery is a nutrient-dense vegetable and has a number of great health benefits. It’s a great source of potassium, vitamin k, and flavonoids which assist in maintaining electrolyte balance, antioxidant function, reduces inflammation and can assist in lowering blood pressure.”
“However, from a nutrient standpoint, juicing extracts the vegetable of one of its most valuable components: fibre,” says Jacqueline, who instead recommends including a smoothie with a range of whole foods, which is a better and more long-term approach to health than a jug of celery juice each morning.
2. Intermittent fasting
Jacqueline explains that intermittent fasting is an eating strategy that involves cycling between periods of eating and periods of voluntarily withholding of food. “The most common fasting window is between 14-16 hours and has proven to regulate insulin levels,” says Jacqueline. “When insulin levels fall and no glucose is being produced for energy, the body will use stored fat to fuel you through your day.”
However, Jacqueline says that the one thing you must avoid during these fasting cycles is compromising overall nutrition by limiting the intake of veggies, fruit, lean protein and healthy fats. “I think this is especially the case when people become focused on counting calories rather than food quality. The most important factor to consider is whether intermittent fasting will work with your lifestyle. For most, it’s not a realistic long-term approach, so I would suggest again if you need to improve your diet, work with other strategies before jumping on the intermittent fasting band wagon.”
3. Ketogenic diet
The keto diet calls for consuming high amounts of fat, a moderate amount of protein, and a very limited amount of carbs throughout the day and is commonly broken down to 75, 20, and 5 percent of your daily calorie intake, says Jacqueline. “
With this approach body enters ketosis, whereby fat becomes your main source of energy. When the body is in ketosis, it burns fat more efficiently, resulting in weight loss.”
“However, your brain derives energy from blood glucose and requires carbohydrates for glucose to enter your bloodstream. As ketosis can only occur when carbohydrates are kept below 30-40 grams per day, it is common for many to initially experience fatigue. Also, foods that are consumed during the keto diet can be high in saturated fats, including from meat, which may increase cholesterol.”
Jacqueline explains that weight loss is generally governed by how many calories you consume versus how many you burn. “If your calorie intake is less than caloric expenditure, you will lose weight regardless of the ratio of macronutrients. I believe that when it comes to weight loss, the keto diet places too much importance on fats consumed rather than overall nutrition.”
4. Carb cycling
“Carb cycling focuses on alternating between a high carb and low carb days throughout the week and is tailored around your energy needs,” says Jacqueline. “Your average carbohydrate consumption can be as low as 30 grams on rest days and as high as 400 grams on training days.
“This diet is known to reignite weight loss plateaus, improve exercise performance and ultimately lead to more calories burned, and on the low carbohydrate days, fat stores may be used as the energy source due to reduced glucose levels in the blood.”
Similar to intermittent fasting, Jacqueline explains that some people can become obsessively fixated on high carb days and potentially overeat or even binge on carbs. “This dietary approach can also be potentially problematic for those who have a history of disordered eating. Rather, eat a balanced diet of fibre, protein and healthy fats and you’ll have a far better balance of nutrients each day.”
5. Plant based or vegan diets
Plant-based and vegan diets have achieved mainstream popularity, and is essentially a strict vegetarian diet whereby you exclude all forms of animal products. “A plant-based diet can greatly affect your health, with some of the health benefits including weight loss, low saturated fat intake and potentially reducing cholesterol levels, and it naturally contains more fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants,” says Jacqueline.
However, there are some health concerns with being vegan, including the inadequate intake of protein, calcium, iron, vitamin B-12, omega 3 fatty acids and folate, all of which can be found within animal products.
“Overtime, the absence of these key nutrients can have detrimental effects on bone density, muscle mass and energy. If you are thinking of transitioning to a vegan diet, I would recommend a gradual shift rather than a radical change and doing so with the support of a qualified health practitioner,” says Jacqueline. “Ensure you are consuming protein and calcium-rich foods such as tofu, lentils, beans, legumes and tempeh. Incorporating a once-a-day supplement into your diet is also a good way of ensuring you are getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals.”
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