It seems that every year, a new fad diet garners national attention. Whether it’s the Atkins diet, the South Beach diet or the Grapefruit diet, fad diets always seem to win over large numbers of converts eager to lose weight. Unfortunately, such diets have a poor track record of long-term success, producing only temporary and misleading results. Given that such dubious diets continue to deceive consumers on a large scale, it’s important to arm yourself with the facts regarding fad diets and their true impact on your body. Here are the details about the latest round of fad diets.
Dukan Diet – This French import consists of four phases. This first step urges dieters to concentrate solely on protein, only allowing the consumption of vegetables in the diet’s second phase. The third phase green-lights fruits, starches, bread and cheese. In a 180 degree turnabout, the program’s final stage promises that its followers can eat whatever they want – with a few exceptions. For starters, dieters must devote one day a week to eating only protein, and must consume three teaspoons of oat bran daily. The Dukan diet frowns upon carbohydrates, mandating that users strictly limit their intake of carbohydrate-heavy foods.
The Dukan diet will help you to lose weight – just not the kind of weight you should want to lose. This program doesn’t actually burn off body fat; rather, it drains water weight from your body. This effect is most pronounced in the face, which uses a relatively large amount of water to support skin tissue. By losing such a significant amount of water weight, your body may be placed at significantly higher risk of kidney stone formation, gall stone formation and bone-thinning. In addition, research indicates that a dieter has a high probability of regaining any weight they have lost.
The 17 Day Diet – Like the Dukan diet, the 17 day diet requires dieters to dramatically reduce their intake of carbohydrates, which are completely prohibited after 2PM. This plan’s name is derived from its four 17-day stages; each stage mandates various amounts of carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and protein. In addition, certain condiments are forbidden, and replaced with healthier alternatives. Mayonnaise, for instance, is substituted with mustard.
The 17 day diet contains the same pratfalls as may low-carbohydrate dietary plans. By minimizing whole food groups, your body loses a large chunk of its water weight, stripping it of many key nutrients. The diet’s rules regarding 17 day cycles and excluding carbohydrates after 2PM have no real effect on body weight, and are merely useless gimmicks.
Atkins Diet – The Atkins diet is probably the most well known of all diets that de-emphasize calories. First introduced in the early 1970s, the Atkins plan promises consumers up to 15 lb. reductions in body weight within the first two weeks of the diet. This diet eschews carbohydrates in favor of meat, prompting the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates. The plan is divided into four stages, a characteristic later adopted by the Dukan diet and the 17 day diet. Stage 1 clamps down on carbohydrates, but urges followers to eat large amounts of protein in the form of meat, fish, eggs, cheese, salad vegetables, butter and oil. More carbohydrates are allowed in each successive stage of the diet. By the forth and final stage, users should be at or near the point where they are longer putting on weight.
Not surprisingly, most of the weight loss caused by the Atkins diet results from a reduction in nutrient-rich body water. More disheartening, the UC Berkeley School of Public Health reported that the Atkins diet and similar programs do not provide long-term results; usually, dieters to gain back any weight lost from following such programs.
Even more alarming is the potential health risks posed by the fat-heavy Atkins diet. The University of Maryland Medical Center has conclusively linked diets similar to the Atkins program to various types of cancers. Furthermore, the Atkins diet restricts fiber, a nutrient essential for good digestion. A person lacking fiber can suffer from a bloated stomach and water stools, and stands an elevated chance of developing colon cancer. Finally, the Atkins diet’s overemphasis on meat and high-fat diary products can lead to cardiovascular disease, since such foods are high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
HCG Diet – Unlike the other diets on this list, the HGC diet doesn’t focus primarily on cutting carbohydrate intake. Instead, this diet focuses on a dieter’s entire caloric consumption, imposing strict limits on how many calories can be eaten per day. A follower of the HGC diet will typically be limited to 500 to 800 daily calories, far short of the roughly 2,000 calories a person should normally consume.
This diet combines intense restrictions on calories with the use of the HCG hormone, which is usually found in pregnant women. This is certainly an unorthodox weight loss method, as HCG has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a weight reduction supplement. HCG and can be injected intravenously or taken in pill form.
Due to the low amount of calories allowed on this diet, a user will lose weight. However, consuming so few calories will leave a dieter deficient in many key nutrients necessary for good health. Furthermore, there is no evidence to support the notion that HCG can help with weight loss.
The Alternatives to Fad Diets: Healthy Foods and Appropriate Portions Sizes
Like any well-oiled machine, your body needs adequate amounts of certain ingredients to function properly. This list includes reasonable amounts of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Your body also depends on regular consumption of vitamins A, C and E. Fad diets run counter to these crucial goals, as they remove or strictly limit certain food groups in your diet (or in the HCG diet’s case, all food groups). If your body is lacking in key nutrients, it becomes susceptible to various illnesses.
Instead of relying on an over-hyped fad diet, try eating reasonable portions of healthy foods on a consistent basis. If you have some excess weight you would like to shed, then follow these guidelines for a trimmer waistline and better health.
- Don’t just focus on one or two food groups. Instead, eat a mixture of lean protein, fish, nuts, olives or olive oil. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, are also conducive to weight loss.
- Remember to eat about 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. To get more bang for your nutritional buck, it’s always a good bet to buy several different colors of fruits and veggies.
- Cut out all bad fats from your diets, such as saturated fat and trans fat. These fats are common in red meat, fast food and many snack products.
- If you’re still hungry after eating a meal, don’t look for a second helping. Try eating some vegetables instead.
- Purchase dairy products that are low in fat.
- Have 5 to 6 smaller meals per day instead of your usual three, with three to four hours in between meals.
- It can be a bit difficult to go without snacking between meals. If you find yourself in dire need of a snack, opt for low fat cheese on whole grain crackers, or a slice of whole grain bread smeared with a table spoon of peanut butter.
- As any regular reader of Natural Knowledge 24/7 can tell you, berries make for an excellent snack. Eating blueberries, cherries, raspberries and blackberries not only help in getting you into a smaller pants size, but also strengthen and improve your immune system.
- This is an obvious one, but avoid empty calorie foods like sodas, candy, cookies, donuts, pastries, margarine, butter, cream, bacon and deep-fried foods.
- High fat foods like pasta, bread and desserts can wreck a diet. Replace them with fruits, vegetables and fresh green salads.
With a healthy and active lifestyle, portion control and healthy eating habits, you cant go wrong!