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Are These Fad Diets Actually Healthy?

Posted in: Blogs , English

Living a healthy lifestyle and promoting a balanced diet has gained much popularity throughout the years. However, experts have concluded that some diets are not one-size fits all and have deemed a few as completely unsafe. Take a look at three fad diets from which experts advise everyone to stay away.


The Whole30 diet sits on the premise that it “resets” your body, helps identify food groups your body rejects, and evaluates if you need to seek medical treatment. The diet eliminates grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, and alcohol to “cleanse your body” for only 30 days while eating three meals a day with minimal to zero snacking. On day 31, you’re allowed to reintroduce these food groups back into your life, and your body’s reaction to each will tell you which should be limited in—or stay out of—your diet. 

The founders of the Whole30 diet discuss that it’s not a diet, but rather, a lifestyle change. They claim this change has many health advantages, such as balancing hormones, solving digestive issues, eliminating cravings, and improving overall health.

Downfalls to Whole30

Whole30 claims to help many people identify what kinds of foods “hinder” their bodies. However, the diet is very restrictive, and if you don’t stay completely committed, you have to wipe your plate clean and start over. The Whole30 diet:

  • Alters your whole lifestyle. With this diet regimen, there is a lot more time spent cooking and planning meals and less time going to eat at restaurants due to its restrictive nature.

  • Lacks nutrients. Experts have examined the diet and declared that many who follow it are missing vital nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D.

  • Sets up for failure. While participating in Whole30, many do lose anywhere from six to 15 pounds and begin to see immediate results. However, experts worry such a restrictive diet leaves zero room for error and will inevitably cause you to put the lost weight back on.

When reviewed by health and nutrition experts, Whole30 was found extreme and its claims, nonsensical. In fact, Whole30 was titled as the worst of the worst for healthy eating.

Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet takes you back to the Paleolithic era—only eating what was available to be hunted or gathered (animal protein and plants). The mantra? If the cavemen didn’t eat it, neither should you. That means saying goodbye to refined sugar, dairy, legumes, and grains and solely basing your meals around meat, poultry, fruits, and vegetables.

The diet allows you to decide how much you what you eat, basing your intake on your personal goals. As a bonus, it allows for three “open” meals a week, which essentially allow you to cheat on the diet three times a week.

Is it easy to follow?

The Paleo diet restricts you from eating entire food groups, making it difficult to follow. However, it does allow you some flexibility to incorporate eating out and eat “open” meals. If you’re familiar with what is and is not Paleo, it’s easier knowing what you can have when going out to eat.

Experts have considered this diet as somewhat unsafe and only somewhat completely nutritional. While a balanced diet often incorporates lean meats and lots of veggies, experts can’t get past the fact that entire food groups, like dairy and grains, are excluded.

Juice Cleanse

A juice cleanse, like the others listed, is a very restrictive diet. This “cleanse” only allows the consumption of juices and other liquids for days and only a limited selection of foods.

Although this diet is not intended to be ongoing, usually lasting from five to seven days, it is a prolonged fast. Experts haven’t found any benefits that convince them enough to deem this diet healthy. Many say the evidence found doesn’t demonstrate massive removal of toxins from the body or improve health in the long run.

Safety Issues

With a cleanse comes many safety concerns. Lasting such a short duration, it disrupts the body and causes confusion. Keep the following finds in mind.

  • The juices may contain harmful ingredients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission found some juices sold for detox purposes contain illegal or potentially damaging ingredients.
  • Detoxes will leave your body unbalanced. Diets restricting calories or types of foods usually won’t lead to lasting weight loss. Detoxers experience a loss of vital nutrients needed in a daily balanced diet.
  • Only drinking juices will leave your body feeling ill. Detox programs usually include laxatives, which typically lead to diarrhea, causing dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Additionally, this kind of fasting can cause headaches, weakness, and fainting.

With such a restrictive and often unsustainable nature, it leaves the dieter feeling continually hungry and deprived. Often, dieters will ignore their body’s hunger cues, but this deprivation can eventually lead to food cravings and possible eating disorders. It’s best to keep a positive association between food and diets to prevent negative body image.

Instead, try these three doctor-approved diets. Take a healthy approach to your plate; visit your Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician to receive a personalized nutrition plan based on your needs.


US News & World Report - Whole30 Diet  

US News & World Report - Paleo Diet  

NIH - “Detoxes” and “Cleanses” - Dieting

CDC - Losing Weight

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