Go onto Instagram and you’ll soon find yourself being blasted with dietary advice.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on how to lose weight fast.
But few celebs or influencers have any qualifications to back up their advice and few acknowledge that they were either born with a genetic advantage or that they spend all day working out.
In fact, according to experts from Glasgow Uni, eight times out of nine, the fitness and diet advice influencers dish out is rubbish.
Lead author Christina Sabbagh said: “The majority of blogs could not be credible sources of weight management information as they often presented opinion as fact and failed to meet nutritional criteria. This is potentially harmful.”
The team added: “All influencers should be required to meet accepted scientifically or medically justified criteria for the provision of weight management advice online.”
It’s crazy when you consider the fact that there are actually loads of healthy and sustainable ways to lose weight out there.
With that in mind, how can we spot a faddy diet online?
1. It claims to work instantly
We’re all looking for a quick fix but the fact is, fat loss doesn’t happen overnight.
If it took you a year to put on a couple of stone, it’s unreasonable to suppose that losing that excess weight will only take a week or two.
“Anything that claims quick or rapid success should ring alarm bells,” Dr Duane Mellor, senior teaching fellow at Aston Medical School, told The Sun.
“Although some diets can help with quick weight loss, can it be sustained for a long time?”
2. The only case studies are celebs or influencers
It’s all very well seeing how a product or diet may have helped a celeb, but the fact is that brands pay these people to promote their products.
That means you’re not getting a fair representation of how well a plan may or may not work.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that celebs have totally different lives to the rest of us.
They have access to the best PTs, often have their food delivered or prepped for them, and they have more time to devote to looking good.
You’re much better off trying transformation programmes like the F45 Challenge or Ultimate Performance which boast thousands of case studies using normal people who lead busy lives.
That way, you can get a better sense of how the plans can fit into everyday life and what the potential outcomes will really look like.
We previously revealed the top five celebrity weight loss diets to avoid in 2019, which the British Dietetic Association (BDA), said were “laughable” and “potentially dangerous”.
They included drinking alkaline water, eating according to your blood type and drinking your own pee.
3. It requires you to buy teas, pills or meal replacements
And diet worth its salt shouldn’t require that you buy more products from a company.
Dieting is totally possible via better food choices and exercise – not “slimming teas” or dumb detox lollies.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and clinical director of patient.info, told The Sun Online: “At best, they’re an expensive con. At worst, if they do contain ingredients that cause diarrhoea, they could be harmful.
“When you have diarrhoea you’re mostly losing water (which may make you a couple of pounds lighter but only until you start drinking again).
“But you can also lose vital minerals and salt, which can upset the whole body balance and lead to muscle weakness, dizziness and worse.”
We previously exposed a number of celeb-endorsed dieting products as being totally irresponsible, including Skinny Coffee (backed by Lauren Googder), Teami Skinny Blend (Cardi B), Nutribuddy Breakfast Shake (Kady McDermott) and more.
4. You need to cut out food groups
Cutting the carbs might work in the short term but for most of us, ditching whole food groups isn’t sustainable or healthy.
It’s been proven again and again than low-carb diets aren’t good for us and can actually increase our risk of heart disease.
“Although some diets can help with quick weight loss can it be sustained for the long term? Also, does it remove whole groups of food without looking to replace the nutrients these foods claim to contain?” If so, it should ring alarm bells, warned Dr Mellor.
5. It’s not backed by experts
“In the UK, dietitians are the only professionals with a legally recognised qualification in nutrition,” Dr Mellor told us.
So if a diet hasn’t been approved by a registered dietician, you might want to give it a hard pass.
Look out for “RNutr” or “ANutr” after their names.
“Be wary of those who claim to have gone on a personal journey but are shy about their qualifications as what they did may be great for them but might not be scientifically sound or even safe,” he said.
6. It severely limits your calorie intake
Tight calorie restrictions may work for some people (like bikini models or bodybuilders), but for most of us, they don’t work.
They simply result in us binging later on down the line.
Dieting guru Terri-Ann Nunns said: “This isn’t sustainable or healthy and can lead to you being malnourished and lacking in energy”.
7. The diet claims to “cure” a disease
“Another ‘red flag’ can be claiming to cure a disease rather than help manage it,” Dr Mellor explained.
How many wellness gurus have risen to fame for a plan which they claim has helped them to combat chronic illness?
While some will swear blind that binning gluten, sugar, dairy, meat, fish and legumes cured them of their mystery sickness, you really can’t expect it to do the same for you.
Food can be the most amazing drug for certain ailments but suggesting that it can “cure” something over traditional medicine can be incredibly dangerous.
The expert dietician behind the Terri-Ann 123 Diet Plan, Ro Huntriss said: “It’s hard to know who to believe when it comes to nutritional plans or products.
“It’s very easy to get sucked in by our favourite celebrity’s Instagram promotions regardless of the effectiveness and safety of the product they are promoting. Before you buy something, do your research.
“Look for plans or products that have involvement from a registered dietitian or registered nutritionist. Look for evidence-based claims as opposed to claims plucked from thin air.
“Remember that some of these products could actually do you harm, so it can be useful to ask advice from your GP before embarking on a diet plan.”