This article has been republished from AIA Vitality-Vlife August 2017

As a refresher, both obesity and the number of fad diets promising rapid weight loss are on the rise in Australia. To follow on from Part 1 of our review, we look at another five diets below, some ‘fads’, others backed by evidence (but not necessarily for weight management).

1. Juice cleanse/Detox

What is it? Consuming only juices, powdered drinks or bottled tonics to “cleanse the liver”.


  • Can help identify feelings of hunger.
  • Can help cause mind shift.


  • Likely to regain weight loss following the diet.
  • Constipation, nutrient deficiencies.
  • No such thing as a ‘liver detox’.

Verdict: The only way to “detox” is to avoid things that put pressure on the liver and kidneys, such as alcohol and unnecessary medications.

2. DASH Diet

What is it? DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was designed to lower blood pressure. The US News and Health Report has rated it ‘best diet in the world’ for the past 7 years.


  • Rich in fruits and vegetables.
  • Low in saturated fat and sodium.
  • Heart Healthy.


  • Some guidelines differ from the Australian Dietary Guidelines, such as 4 servings of fruit per day (2 here) and 1-2 servings of red meat per week (here it’s 4 or 455g total).

Verdict: DASH encourages whole foods, fresh fruit and vegetables. It can be followed long term.

3. The 5:2 Diet

What is it? Based on the principle of intermittent fasting (IF), it involves eating 2,500 kilojoules (or 600 calories) on two non-consecutive days a week and eating normally on the other five days. It’s becoming increasingly popular, with research in humans still emerging.


  • Evidence shows this diet works (but is no better than a standard kilojoule reduced diet) for weight loss.
  • However, compared to a standard kilojoule reduced diet, two days a week on a restricted diet can lead to greater reductions in body fat, insulin resistance and other chronic diseases.
  • For many, sticking to a regimen two days a week is easier than seven days, encouraging perseverance and thus weight loss.


  • Skipping meals could cause dizziness, irritability, headaches and low concentration.
  • People may choose unhealthier foods on their 5 days of eating normally.
  • 600 calories a day is limiting.
  • To-ing and Fro-ing on a fasting diet can create an unhealthy relationship with food.

Verdict: May be useful short term, under supervision from an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). Continuing work/exercise on 600-calorie intake days is difficult and it’s important to still eat a healthy, balanced diet on the other 5 days.

4. Low FODMAP Diet

What is it? This diet restricts foods containing certain molecules that are poorly absorbed by some people and that can cause symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


  • Effective for treatment of IBS.


  • Misused as a weight loss diet.
  • Omits many healthy foods.

Verdict: A Low-FODMAP diet can be useful for individuals with intolerances and/or allergies to a variety of foods. Supervision by an APD is essential to ensure challenges are carried out correctly with adequate nutrient intake and food variety.

4. Gluten Free Diet

What is it? Avoids all foods containing gluten.


  • Effective treatment for people with Coeliac disease or gluten intolerance.


  • Misused as a weight loss diet.
  • Not all gluten-free foods are healthy (many contain higher amounts of sugar and saturated fat than their gluten-containing counterparts).

Verdict: Essential if you have coeliac disease (less than 5% of the population). A gluten-free diet is not recommended for weight loss and is not a healthier option than a balanced diet. This diet is only for those with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance.

In summary, there are many diets that will help weight loss. The key to healthy weight management is to keep the weight off long term. This means making small, sustainable dietary changes that you can follow for the rest of your life. It may take a little longer to drop the kilos – but it’ll be much more beneficial in the long run.

Anna and Alex are the Accredited Practising Dietitians The Biting Truth. They use innovative and creative themes to deliver up-to-date, health and nutritional information to inspire you to lead a more nutritionally enriched life.




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