The Christmas season is upon us and with it comes a seemingly endless period devoted to eating and drinking. That is, of course, until the clock strikes midnight on December 31st and a New Year is heralded in. For many, losing weight and getting that body they have always promised themselves sits high on the New Year 'to-do' list.
However, with so many blogs, diet books, weight loss 'experts' and celebrity-endorsed products on the market, it is worth considering whether someone is simply profiting on your dreams and all you're going to lose is your hard-earned cash.
The BDA hear it all when it comes to the latest way to shed pounds from the good to the bad, to the down-right dangerous! When people need medical advice, they go to their GP and when people have a toothache, they go to their dentist, but some people will believe almost anything and anyone when it comes to nutrition, food and diet.
In response to the barrage of confusing nutrition advice, The British Dietetic Association (BDA), the professional association and trade union for dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, revealed its much-anticipated annual list of celebrity diets and products to avoid in the New Year.
1. No Sugar diet
Celebrity Link: Tom Hanks and Alec Baldwin have reportedly followed this 'diet'.
What's it all about? The Sugar Free Diet is when you exclude all types of sugar (and often carbohydrates too) from your diet.
BDA Verdict: Not such a sweet deal! Confusion reigns. Cutting down on free sugars, reducing the amount of sugar you add, and consuming fewer products already containing added sugar, in addition to being label aware is definitely a positive. However, some versions of the No Sugar/Sugar Free Diet promote cutting out all sugar from your diet which is not only almost impossible, but would mean eliminating foods like vegetables, fruit, dairy products, nuts - leading to a less than healthy diet. Also it is important to be aware of some substitutes these diet plans recommend like agave, palm sugar, maple syrup or honey, as these are actually just free sugars in another form and a huge contradiction. It's not about a single food or nutrient, we advocate a whole diet approach.
2. The all-kale and chewing gum diet
Celebrity Link: Jake Gyllenhaal reportedly followed this 'diet' to shed weight for a film role.
What's it all about? There isn't much to this one, as all you can eat is kale salad and chewing gum.
BDA Verdict: Kale-amity! This diet is extreme, socially isolating, unbalanced, hard to sustain and potentially harmful. An actor would be carefully monitored and supervised to shed weight for a role. Many people get drawn in by so called 'super foods' but no one food can provide all the nutrients you need. These foods are not a magic bullet, neither does balanced nutrition work by a 'good' food cancelling out other poor dietary and lifestyle choices. Nothing is wrong with kale, but if that is all you consume all day, every day, then problems will arise - it's all about balance, a healthy relationship with food (not obsession) and variety.
3. Bulletproof diet
Celebrity Link: Harry Styles and Shailene Woodley have reportedly followed this 'diet'.
What's it all about? This quirky diet plan includes a daily 'Bulletproof coffee' which is essentially a black coffee with two table spoons of butter, and a table spoon of MCT oil added totting up at around 400kcal per cup. Foods are classified as bulletproof, suspect or kryptonite with rules on timing of meals
BDA Verdict: Un-bull-ieveable! Whilst the idea of minimising alcohol and processed food is positive, the classification of foods is at odds with health recommendations and lacks evidence. Time restricted eating is also at odds with many lifestyles. The negative of the recommended Bulletproof coffee is that consuming 400+ calories from one beverage provides a lot of energy but few nutrients from a drink, rather than individuals choosing food and drink with more nutritional content for the same calorie value.
4. The Super Elixir
Celebrity Link: Elle McPherson is the co-founder and Creative Director of the company that sell this product.
What's it all about? 'The Super Elixir' is a food supplement aiming to change body tissue from an acidic to an alkaline state. It comes in the form of a green powder and contains just over 45 ingredients including a number of powdered fruits and vegetables, sweeteners, several Chinese herbs and some digestive enzymes. The recommended dose is two teaspoons (or 10g) per day meaning a month's supply could set you back up to £96 (£96 for 300g plus caddy/£62.50 for 300g pouch).
BDA Verdict: How much?! The benefits that this costly powder claims to provide can easily be obtained from fruit and vegetables and a balanced diet, without the hefty price tag. Moreover our bodies are naturally capable of regulating acidity levels. Why not save between £750-£1152 per year, spend it on some delicious fruit and vegetables and a splurge on a 'Super' holiday instead!
5. Trim Secrets
Celebrity Link: Baroness Michelle Mone OBE, founder of lingerie brand Ultimo and life peer in the House of Lords, established Trim Secrets with a Scottish naturopath. Chanelle Hayes (former Big Brother star) has reportedly followed this 'diet'.
What's it all about? Trim Secrets is a pill which claims to suppress appetite whilst boosting the metabolism, allegedly aiding both men and women to lose weight when combined with the Trim Secrets 5 stage diet plan. The diet plan includes a balanced diet of 1500 calories per day along with a Trim Secrets capsule taken three times a day before each meal, 1.5 litres of water daily, regular exercise and avoiding stress.
BDA Verdict: By consuming 1500 calories per day, most individuals should lose weight regardless of whether they are taking this pill, and that's no secret. The pill has echoes of the grapefruit diet and includes guarana which is high in caffeine yet states it's caffeine free. Beware of pills and potions and make sure you know exactly what you are buying and taking.
The bottom line here is, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. If you have to pay out for a DVD or book or product that will unlock the secrets of losing weight, this can be a good indicator that the only pounds you will be losing will be out of your wallet. The simple fact is, there is no 'wonder diet' and no one diet fits all.
Maybe it's not as exciting but the truth is if you do want to lose some weight do it by making small, sustainable changes, eating a healthy, balanced diet that you can stick to, 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 work for you, not someone else's lifestyle, and last beyond the end of January.
Save your money and access a whole raft of FREE BDA Food Fact Sheets at: http://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/index.html
including one specifically about weight loss.