Is That Fad Diet Robbing You Of Precious Nutrients?

Written by Dr. Pramod Mane on Sat, 02 December 2023


Losing weight and exercising more are the two most common goals that people chase. Especially in these times of social media when everyone is in a mad rush to flaunt that perfect Instagram body. In this quest to achieve maximum gains in minimum time, turning to fad diets that promise dream bodies in little time, has come to be some kind of a trend. While these diets might be effective in shedding the extra pounds, they are often restrictive in terms of holistic nutrition.

We all know how our bodies require carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water for smooth functioning. These components are all part of a balanced diet, that are also known to keep nutritional ailments at bay. So, what happens to our bodies when we skip meals or follow specific diets for weight loss? Well, it opens the door to various deficiencies and diseases.

What is a balanced diet?

A balanced diet is a selection of foods that provide our body with all the micronutrients, fiber, and energy that it needs. A balanced diet comprises nutrition that comes from fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, meat, eggs, milk, and milk products.

It doesn't leave out or restrict any important components such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Eating proportionately and involving holistic and fresh nutrients on your plate is the gist of a balanced diet. By following a balanced diet, one can attain a healthy body that can perform all functions and is fit enough to fight and withstand diseases.

What are modern-day diets?

Modern-day fad diets are usually a special meal plan that involves certain foods and neglect or restricts some completely to lose weight. They might restrict or completely avoid carbs, meat, dairy, sugar, etc.

While these diets might be a great way of shutting our mouths to junk food and eating healthy, many of them can be hard to sustain for long because of their highly restrictive nature. Many people tend to fall off the wagon as these diets require a complete change in eating habits and leaves them feeling unsatisfied and unsatisfied.

Some examples of such diets include the Keto Diet, Paleo Diet, Dukan Diet, Vegan Diet, Ultra low-fat diet, Gluten-free diet, etc.

What are common dietary deficiencies?

Dietary deficiencies are more common than people think. How many times have we heard people complaining about vitamin deficiencies and having to take supplements for the same? It's become normal to have deficiencies as the food we eat has become nutritionally low and more synthetic.

Topping this up with fad diets removes even more nutrients from our food making our bodies deficient in these trace elements. The most common deficiencies are that of iron, vitamin B12, iodine, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin A.

These vitamin requirements can be easily fulfilled if a person sticks to a balanced diet. Many developing countries have to face Problems of malnutrition with several diseases like kwashiorkor and marasmus disease which is caused due to the deficiency of protein in one's diet. However, in developed countries, diet-related deficiencies usually arise due to the overlooking of nutritional facts and requirements.

Nutritional deficiencies caused by various diets

Various diets can cause certain deficiencies. Here are some fad diets that are notorious for being deficient in certain essential elements.

1. The Ketogenic diet

This diet is high in fats and involves very little or no carbs in the meal. It is a recent fad in the fitness industry and has helped many bodybuilders and fitness freaks achieve their goals. However, in the long run, the Keto is known to cause several problems like kidney stones, liver problems, low blood sugar, and constipation.

Eating a large number of proteins and fats sounds great until you realize fresh fruits and vegetables are off the charts here. This gives the body very little fiber and essential micronutrients which are necessary for our well-being. T

he Keto diet is known to cause deficiencies of the elements selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and vitamins B and C. This can cause serious problems to our health and should be considered by everyone thinking of trying out the Keto diet.

2. The Paleo diet

It's also known as the hunter-gatherer diet or the caveman diet. It proposes that if our early ancestors didn't eat it, we shouldn't too. In this diet, most things of natural origin are involved. Think fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat, eggs, and milk.

Anything that is packed or processed such as cheese, legumes, cereals, dips, and sauces are not allowed on this diet. It is argued that not consuming milk products and legumes while on this diet opens the door for Vitamin B and Vitamin D deficiencies.

A classic Paleo diet often puts the consumer at risk of calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies. At the same time, thiamin, riboflavin deficiency is also common. Avoiding processed foods is great but abstaining from good nutrition received from natural foods such as legumes and milk seems like a waste of wholesome vitamins and minerals.

3. Gluten-free diet

Many people who are allergic to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley) tend to opt for a gluten-free diet. This diet is best suited for people suffering from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Many people without these conditions also choose these diets for weight loss. This can cause deficiencies of vitamins A, D, and B along with magnesium, calcium, iron, and fiber. These deficiencies can be compensated by eating enough vegetables and legumes but it's often a challenge to do so which leads to deficiencies. Supplements might be helpful in this scenario.

4. The low FODMAP diet

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols, which are short-chain carbohydrates and alcohols that are poorly absorbed by the body. It is usually recommended for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as it helps them to cope with bloating, gas, and abdominal pain.

In this diet, one can opt for plant-based milk, certain fruits like pineapple, strawberries, oranges, and vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, cucumber, etc. along with selective grains like quinoa, oats, and rice. Eggs, meat, and certain nuts and cheeses are acceptable. It is a very restrictive diet that can give rise to various eating disorders as well as nutritional deficiencies.

People following this diet often lack calcium, fiber, vitamin B12, and iron in their diet as very selective fruits, vegetables, and grains are allowed. IBS also reduces the absorption of many nutrients from the Intestines like that of Vitamin D. Supplementing your diet with essential elements might help to keep up with nutrition deficiencies.

5. The Vegan diet

Vegan diets have gained immense popularity over the last few years. It's a great option for people who don't prefer nonvegetarian foods or are lactose-intolerant. Vegan diets only involve foods from plant origins: this means meat, eggs, honey, milk, and milk products are off the table.

People who take up this diet just because it's in vogue often end up with various deficiencies. Iron, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Calcium, Vitamin D3, DHA, and some essential Omega-3 fatty acids are hard to receive from a plant-based diet. If you wish to stick to a vegan diet, it is necessary to involve as much plant nutrition on your plate as possible and take supplements for other nutrients that are rare to get from plants.

With most on some diet plan or the other, nutritional deficiencies are a growing concern these days. But overlooking nutrition for temporary weight loss or weight gain goals can be detrimental to our health in the long run.

Eating a healthy balanced diet with all nutrients is always the best choice we can make for our health. For people with certain conditions that require them to follow specific diets, it is even more necessary to supplement your diet with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients so that no deficiencies arise.

Remember, green leafy vegetables, poultry, meat, fresh fruits, legumes, healthy fats, nuts, and seeds all come together to form the nutritious balanced diet that our body needs. So, instead of compromising on precious nutrition, get started on an exercise regime to get fit.


Dr. Pramod Mane

A Doctor of Medicine (MD) in Pharmacology., currently based in Mumbai, India, Dr Pramod Mane, comes with an experience of more than 20 years of working in Medical Affairs in the Pharmaceuticals & Nutraceutical Industry. Director of Medical Services at Mega Lifesciences since 2008, Dr Mane has been associated with several MNCS in the areas of Medical Affairs, Medical Services, Medico-marketing, Pharmacovigilance & Clinical trials in his illustrious career.

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Current Version

Dec, 02 2023

Written By

Dr. Pramod Mane