Every year or so, there’s a new diet-related trend that becomes all the rage — one that usually promises to reduce your body fat and get you healthier than ever. However, according to Jillian Michaels, health and fitness expert, and creator of the Jillian Michaels Fitness App (available in iOS, Android, and on the Samsung Health wellness platform), fad diets are never a good idea. Speaking to The List, she reveals, “On top of being difficult to sustain for most, fad diets create nutrient deficiencies.” She continued, “They [also] give no direction on the things that really matter like food quality and food quantity.” In other words, important dietary factors that shouldn’t be overlooked.
When it comes to your diet, you’re in control and it’s totally your choice what you do and don’t do. But it’s worth noting that some fad diets are worse than others. And Jillian Michaels wholeheartedly agrees, pointing to three specific fad diets she categorizes as “extreme”: the vegan diet, the keto diet, and any sort of detox or cleanse. According to Michaels, these are the three fad diets should be avoided at all costs.
Just because it's plant-based doesn't mean it's healthy
These days, there are many different reasons to become a vegan or adopt a vegan lifestyle. But it’s not always a good idea. “While I love animals, and I also understand that this diet is best for the environment, [the vegan diet] simply isn’t the healthiest,” says Michaels. “It can create nutrient deficiencies as it lacks heme iron, B12, collagen, and EPA (one of the omega 3 health fats that is predominantly taken from marine sources),” she explains. And while many may think meat and dairy-free alternatives have the same health benefits as traditional animal products, think again — just because something is plant-based, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy or nutritious.
So instead of adopting a vegan diet, Micheals recommends reducing meat intake rather than cutting it out altogether. “Consider a piece of organic grass-fed beef once a month, have wild-caught salmon every two weeks, some organic free-range eggs once a week and turkey or chicken once a week,” she recommends. This will allow you to eat a largely plant-based diet but avoid nutrient deficiency (as well as all the over-processed meat and dairy-free alternatives).
Michaels says the keto diet could reduce your longevity
“I truly dislike this diet,” Michaels reveals to The List. Like the vegan diet, when you cut out certain food groups, on the keto diet you could be cutting out key sources of nutrients. “When you cut out carbs, fruits, and some starchy veggies you are losing so many different antioxidants, fiber, digestive enzymes, and micronutrients,” she explains. Michaels also warns that the keto diet puts a lot of pressure on your thyroids, gall bladder, liver, and kidneys. Worse still, it’s “high in animal protein which has been linked to a shorter life span.”
Though advocates of the diet are likely to argue it has the potential to improve insulin-related health conditions like Type 2 Diabetes or PCOS, Michaels argues that “all those conditions can be reversed with common sense, calorie-controlled eating, and fitness.” Basically, there’s really no need or good reason for you to do it. However, if you insist on trying it, Michaels begs that you follow it for no longer than one month.
Detoxes and cleanses may damage your metabolism
Everyone knows someone who swears by juice cleanses or liver detoxes. “Often people think a juice ‘cleanse’ or not eating for days on end ‘detoxes’ the body — this is utter bull,” reveals Michaels. Turns out, it does almost the opposite, and detoxes and cleanses instead have the potential to damage your metabolism. “Starving the body of food damages metabolism because it tells your body that food is scarce, which triggers hormonal shifts to put your body in fat storage mode,” Michaels explains. It also deprives your body of fiber, which is “one of the most essential things your body needs to remove waste.” In other words, your body can’t actually “detox” when you put your body on a “detox.”
Instead, detox means treating your body as best as you possibly can and modifying your diet to be as healthy as you can be. “If you want to detox the body stop eating garbage, drink water, sleep, create a 12-hour overnight fast window but still eat during the day, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables,” says Michaels. Yes, it’s really that simple.
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