This is what 7 popular diets actually do to your body

Twisted: Unserious food tastes seriously good.

In recent years, what and how we eat has come under serious scrutiny. Gone are the days where we could shovel down anything we liked without worrying what might happen to us. Unfortunately, we all now know too much to get away with it.

Obsessing over the side effects of our food and drink has had a number of unusual consequences. Not content with adopting an “everything in moderation” eating model, many of us have turned to wacky dieting to keep us in check. Though almost all of the different diets on offer sound like a great way to stay healthy in the face of delicious temptation, they can also have several strange side effects themselves. This is what seven different popular diets actually do to your body.

dieting salad bowl Credit: Pixabay/silviarita

1. Atkins

Popularised in the late 80s by controversial nutritionist Robert Atkins, the diet that shares his name is famous for its focus on meat. The key principle that carbohydrate restriction is key to promoting weight loss has been a topic of serious debate among scientists, and it is believed by many that most early weight loss observed on Atkins is actually due to loss of water weight. Some have also suggested that the diet could lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

2. 5:2

Based on the principle of intermittent-fasting (IF), the 5:2 diet really kicked off 2012/2013 thanks to a BBC documentary entitled “Eat, Fast and Live Longer”. Though proponents claim that 5:2 can help you live longer, protect you from disease and even fight Alzheimer’s, there are several supposed side effects. Many participants have reported difficulty sleeping, bad breath, anxiety and dehydration, according to the NHS.

3. Master Cleanse

It might be best known thanks to contemporary dieters like Beyonce, but the Master Cleanse has actually been around since the 1940s. Involving the total exclusion of food and only allowing for the consumption of tea, lemonade, maple syrup and cayenne, advocates claim that there is nothing better for removing excess fat and toxins. Unfortunately, according to Harvard Health Publications, the master cleanse can also lead to “fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and dehydration, while long term harm includes loss of muscle mass and increased risk of heart attack.”

4. Paleo

The paleo fad demands that dieters ignore everything that we know about modern nutrition and head back to the stone age. It is claimed that by only eating foods that were available to our ancestors millions of years ago and cutting out processed ingredients will ultimately make us healthier. However, because our digestive abilities have changed dramatically since the paleolithic era, the whole principle behind the diet is seriously disputed by many health professionals. It can also lead to calcium deficiency, diarrhea and headaches, according to an entry in the Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases.

5. Cabbage Soup

If ever a diet does what it says on the tin, it is Cabbage Soup. A week-long weight loss programme, during which participants must eat nothing but the bland soup, some claim that the diet can lead to dramatic weight loss in a short period of time. Critics, however, argue that the low-protein, low-nutrition diet can lead to feelings of weakness and lightheadedness, as well as causing chronic flatulence.

6. Keto

One of the most popular modern fad diets, keto centres around the principle of putting the body into a state of ketosis by completely ignoring carbohydrates. Though the diet is believed to be an effective way to lose weight, there are several unpleasant side effects. These include frequent urination, diarrhea, constipation, drowsiness, dizziness, bad breath and heart palpitations.

7. South Beach

Developed by Arthur Agatston in 2003, the South Beach diet has the distinction of containing a few strains of common sense. Emphasising high-fibre carbs, unsaturated fat and lean protein, Agatston claimed that his diet could facilitate rapid weight loss, stave off disease and fight against heart attacks. Though there is little evidence to support this, the NHS state that the diet will probably cause “bad breath, a dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness, insomnia, nausea and constipation.”

The idea of a quick and effective fix to some of our more serious health problems is extremely tempting. It would certainly make things easier if we could all become immortal by eating nothing but cabbage soup. As ever, however, the truth is a whole lot more complicated.