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Diets, Diets, Diets!

Timeless Nutrition Tips...

It is a pretty obvious fact Americans are obsessed with dieting. The motivation to diet can be of many factors be they medical or all in the name of vanity. The view of society that "thin is in" has contributed to this obsession and carried it too far, although it is important to note the health benefits of weight loss should be a motivational factor in changing ones diet.

Diets, Diets, Diets

The question now is how do you diet? Should you use a special diet? If so, which one? There are many different approaches. Please note: This article is for informational use only. Any serious attempts on any given diet should be discussed with your health care provider prior to beginning.


High Fat, Low Carb

The Atkins diet is probably the most widely followed diet of all fad diets in the U.S. It has been around for nearly thirty years. Some are very happy with it and some are not.

The theory behind this diet is when we eat carbohydrates and sugar, the body responds by making insulin to burn them off. When excess carbohydrates are consumed, the resulting overproduction of insulin promotes the storage of fat and leads to weight loss.

So, to avoid this from occurring, you avoid processed foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugar. During the first couple of weeks you are allowed to eat all the protein and fat you wish. Some of the foods you can eat all you want of include meat, even bacon, cheese, poultry, cream, butter, seafood, eggs or oil.

You avoid starchy foods completely. Later in the diet you incorporate some. This diet tactic appeals to many and most likely will result in a weight loss initially. Your weight may plateau after a time, but if you continue the diet, it is unlikely it will increase from your plateau. One of the reasons this diet works well is due to the fact fatty foods satisfy hunger longer than most other foods so you are less likely to snack or indulge in raiding the refrigerator. As a result, you may consume fewer calories, which is the real key to weight loss along with exercise.

Atkins Pyramid The most troublesome fact about this diet in the opinion of experts is the long term effects of all the fat and cholesterol consumed. These clog the arteries and that in turn, promotes heart attacks and stroke. A person usually will not see much change in their cholesterol levels in the beginning and will think the diet is not affecting them negatively at all. This is where you must take caution -- once the effects do start to do damage, it is very difficult to reverse it.

There are studies being done to determine just how dangerous the long-term effects of this diet are. Meanwhile, most doctors and professional dietitians discourage people from going on this diet. It is, of course, even more risky to those who suffer from high cholesterol already or if there are any risk factors for arteriosclerosis. Other factors that could make this diet more harmful include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Some doctors, who have patients with one or more of the listed risks, but insist on sticking to this diet, will give the patient a statin drug to keep their cholesterol levels down.

This brought about the creation of Granula (yes, granula). This name derived from granulates, which is to form into granules or grains. In 1863 this became our first breakfast cereal and consisted of heavy nuggets made from bran, the outer husk of a grain that is removed when making flour. The cereal had to be soaked overnight before being eaten. Simply pouring milk over it was not enough to make it edible.

The Zone Diet

The Zone Diet A man named Barry Sears created this diet. It is more balanced than the other diets in the low carbohydrate group but again, protein ingestion is promoted at the expense of healthy carbohydrates. This diet is named the Zone because it keeps insulin levels within an acceptable range, or Zone. In putting this diet into practice, you eat 40-percent of your caloric intake from carbohydrates, 30-percent from protein, mostly cheese, fish and chicken breast, and 30-percent from fat, less than 10-percent of it unsaturated.

The creator of this diet claims you will get all the fiber you need with his diet, but it is too low in whole grains, one of the key sources of fiber, to sit comfortably with experts. You really do need to eat fruits and vegetables.

This diet is also lacking in calcium. If you decide to try it, you should seriously consider taking appropriate supplements but again, it is always better to get your nutrients from the foods you eat.

The Ornish Diet

Dr. Dean Ornish is the creator of this diet. This diet is nearly the opposite of the Atkins diet. This one follows the no- fat diet regime to an extreme, going so far that it insinuates fat is the root of all evil. Dr. Ornish feels he has shown that an almost totally fat-free diet will result in weight loss and will, in time, shrink the plaque that constricts your arteries.

This diet consists basically of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nonfat cottage cheese and yogurt. There is virtually no meat and very few low-fat dairy products. If you rigidly adhere to this diet it will result in weight loss and will lower your cholesterol levels.

Like most diets, however, there is a "but". This diet requires an iron will power to stick to for any length of time and when changing your diet, permanent changes should be put into place. This is a difficult diet to consider life long. On the upside of this, if you can adhere to this diet and find it to your liking, it can be very beneficial. If you have any risk factors for vascular disease or already have suffered a heart attack or stroke, you could help reduce your risks greatly with a diet such as this. Although heart patients do equally as well when the exercise, eat a low-fat diet and take a cholesterol lowering statin drug if necessary.

The Pritikin Diet

Robert Pritikin wrote this diet.

His father, Nathan Pritikin, a self-educated layman, had suffered a heart attack as a young man. It was he who eventually convinced the medical profession that fat is bad for the heart.

The Pritikin diet is low in calories and virtually devoid of fat. It places emphasis on fruits, grains and vegetables. Those who find it to their liking and are able to stick with it enjoy healthy sugar and cholesterol levels and a more acceptable weight.

Sadly, Nathan Pritikin later died of cancer, but his arteries were found to be virtually free of atherosclerosis.

The Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet Foods Following this diet will keep your calories and subsequently, your weight, down. You also will reduce your risk of heart attack. The diet consists of fruit, bread, root and green vegetables, fish and poultry. You also have monounsaturated fat such as olive oil added in this diet. This is the "good-for- you" fat. This diet is rich in heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

In November, 2013, a study found that nearly 30 percent of heart attacks and strokes could be prevented if people switched to a Mediterranean diet, not to mention the already established benefits the diet provides for Alzheimer's disease and cancer prevention.

Research has discovered you can improve on this diet by adding a few walnuts each day in place of some of the olive oil. Eating just eight to eleven walnuts every day lowered levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol by over 11-percent versus about 5-percent with the standard Mediterranean diet.

The Warrior Diet

The Warrior Diet is based on a daily feeding cycle of "undereating" during the day and "overeating" at night. The "Undereating Phase" during the day would maximize the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) fight or flight reaction to stress and thereby it promotes alertness, generation of energy, fat burning and the capacity to endure stress.

The "Overeating Phase" at night would maximize the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) recuperation effect on the body, and thereby promotes calming down, relaxation, digestion and the utilization of nutrients for repair and growth. The above feeding cycles stimulate the production of cellular factors such as Cyclic AMP or GMP respectively that stimulates hormone synthesis and fat burning during the day as well as protein synthesis and growth during the night.

The Traffic Light Diet

Here is how families in a University of Buffalo study ate better, lost weight and saved money.
Green Light Foods: Fill your plate! Whole grain breads and pasta, brown rice, fresh fruits (or frozen or canned in juice) and vegetables, non-sweetened dry cereal, fat free milk, fat free yogurt, beans and lentils and tuna.
Yellow Light Foods: Go for smaller and fewer portions. Good choices: low fat yogurt and cottage cheese, 1-percent milk, eggs, skinless chicken breasts and legs, and most types of fish.
Red Light Foods: Limit them to two servings a day or less. These include cheese, whole milk, butter, ice cream, red meat, pork and even modified diet foods such as high-calorie, fat free salad dressing and low-fat cookies.

High Protein Diet

High-protein diets may pose a risk to health, leading nutrition experts have said.

The American Heart Association has issued a warning about the fashionable diets. It says that there is no evidence that they are effective -- and they might actually do more harm than good. The warning from the AHA's nutrition committee, published in association's journal Circulation, says that there is no proof that the diets help people to lose weight in the long term. It also warns that they may pose health risks to people who stick with them for more than a short time.

A diet rich in animal protein, saturated fat and cholesterol raises harmful LDL cholesterol levels. This increases the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and several types of cancer. In addition, there is a warning from the American Kidney fund about these diets (based on their research). The diets place such a significant strain on the kidneys that even conditioned athletes can become dehydrated.

Blood tests show that increased protein intake leads to a progression toward dehydration and that a greater strain was placed on the kidneys due to the excessive amount of protein. In otherwise healthy individuals, a protein intake of no more than 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight was recommended by the researchers in order to avoid negative long-term effects.

Quick Facts:
The body needs proteins to maintain healthy function. However, a normal, balanced diet contains all the proteins the body needs.

Excess protein can increase the risk of ill health. For instance, it can exacerbate the symptoms of liver and kidney disease.

High-protein diets produce rapid weight loss by stimulating the loss of fluids from the body. However, this is also associated with the loss of glycogen, a vital energy source, from the muscles. This can lead to fatigue.

This is a fat-burning state that occurs during starvation, and can be quite dangerous.

The urea derived from the breakdown by the liver of protein puts a lot of pressure on the kidneys. Ketosis can also cause the blood to become more acidic.

Slim Fast Diet

Slim Fast Slim Fast is the most common diet shake. The Slim Fast plan calls for a shake at breakfast and lunch, and then a sensible dinner. You are also allowed two additional pieces of fruit and a Slim Fast nutrition bar as needed during the day. The sensible dinner may be used for any meal, as long as the two other meals are the diet shakes.

Any diet that is lower in calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight should promote weight loss. The Slim Fast diet, which averages about 1,200 calories a day, will cause weight loss for most people, as it is at least 500 calories less than the average female is consuming and at least 1,000 calories less than the average male is consuming.

According to nutritional experts, there are healthful aspects to the Slim Fast meal plan, however, there are also several pitfalls. The good news is that the Slim Fast plan includes exercise and promotes drinking 6 to 8 cups of water daily, which are both important features in any plan. The Slim Fast regimen is easy to follow. However, when you are following a calorie-restricted diet, it is very difficult to get all of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are necessary for good health, so it is important to concentrate on consuming wholesome and nutritious foods during your sensible meal. The shakes contain only added vitamins and minerals.

Carbohydrate Addict's Diet

This diet is hardly a favorite of nutritionists or specialists with a medical background. It is well known that many individuals have abnormally high insulin levels and insulin resistance, but this is a part of the medical condition known as the metabolic syndrome, which has a variety of causes -- notably obesity itself. "Carbohydrate addiction" has never been shown to be among them.

"The whole premise that we are carbohydrate addicts makes about as much sense as telling people they are oxygen or water addicts," says John McDougall, MD, one of the participants in the debate on fad diets last spring in Washington, D.C., an event sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He is the head of the McDougall Program, a center for the rehabilitation of dietary diseases at St. Helena Hospital in the Napa Valley of California, and a lecturer in nutrition. "We are designed to be seekers of carbohydrates," he says. "The tip of the tongue has one kind of calorie-seeking taste bud, and that is for carbohydrates."

You decide!

Hollywood 48 Hour Juice Diet

Celebrity Juice Diet The Hollywood 48 hour Diet is a juice "diet" that you can go on for 48 hours. It is recommended that you do it no more than twice a month and that you can lose up to 10 pounds each time you do it. It claimed to be a great detox for your body in clearing out the intestines and colon.

In effect, the Hollywood 48 hour Diet is a juice "fast", rather than a "diet". Like any fast, it is a form of starvation and any weight loss is likely to be water loss - which is immediately regained as soon as the fast ends.

Hollywood 48 Hour Diet claims to detox your body, help you lose up to ten pounds and energize you.

Remember -- no diet that lasts only 48 hours can offer effective, sustaining weightloss. This five to ten pound weightloss is not healthy and strictly temporary. It's also expensive.

Starvation Diet

Out of frustration, many people try to starve themselves to the proper weight. Starvation diets never work because:

  • The diet is impossible to maintain
  • Causes you to binge, especially late afternoon or evening
  • Slows your metabolism
  • Sets you up for failure

Starvation diets never work because your body requires fuel all through the day to properly function. By not eating, you become vulnerable to temptation. This leaves you feeling frustrated and defeated, which causes you to eat even more.

Instead of the starvation method, try eating 3 to 4 small meals through the day. Always eat breakfast and consume 300 to 400 calories each meal. By the end of the day, you will consume 900 to 1600 calories. Your diet should be well balanced and include plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Sugar Busters Diet

This is another fad diet - this diet urges you to exclude ALL sources of sugar from your diet. This includes forms of carbohydrates such as potatoes, carrots, corn, beetroot, bananas, white bread, white rice, biscuits and cakes.

It claims that sugar is toxic and that most body fat is due to ingested sugar and refined carbohydrates and so reducing these will promote weight loss ability. This is regardless of your fat intake.

Sugar Busters The diet urges you to eat protein without a warning that some forms of protein are high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

The Sugar Busters diet claims that sugar is "pure, white and deadly" and to be completely avoided. It gives no advice about moderation or substitution -- just deprivation. We all know this cannot be sustained for long and is certainly not a healthy change in lifestyle. It could in fact lead to serious medical problems, as the body needs sugar -- in moderation.

The diet also says that refined sugar causes mental conditions and hypoglycaemia -- this is not true.

This is what you would be having for dinner tonight if you were on the Sugar Busters Diet: Green salad, steak, lamb chops or hamburger steak, green vegetables sauteed in oil, a glass of white wine, sugar free ice-cream or two slices of cheese.

Negative Calorie Diets

"Did you know that it is now possible to drop up to 14 POUNDS in only 7 DAYS? That's right! The Negative Calorie Diet can make it happen for you! Since 1997, thousands of people from all over the world are using our weight loss program. Our eBook reveals the weight loss secrets of consuming negative calorie foods to lose all the weight you want!"

At least that's what their website says.

This 'too good to be true' concept is that some foods cause your body more energy to burn than the calories it induces...thus making you lose weight with zero exercise. Medical research is lacking at this time.

Food Combining Hay Diet

Dr. William Howard Hay introduced food combining in 1911. His basic premise is that there is one underlying cause for health problems and that is the wrong chemical condition in the body.

Along with dietary changes, Dr Hay also advised fresh air, exercise and general lifestyle changes. The basic rules of this diet are: Starches and sugar should not be eaten with proteins and acid fruits at the same meal. Vegetables, salads and fruits should play a major part in the diet; proteins, starches and fats should be eaten in small quantities and only whole grain unprocessed starches should be used. Finally, at least 4 hours should elapse between meals of different food groups.

Dr. Hay classified foods into three types according to their chemical requirements for efficient digestion. These three types are:

  • Alkali forming foods such as fruits and vegetables. Alkali forming means the end products of such foods after digestion. Even acid tasting fruits such as lemons yield alkaline salts in the body.
  • Concentrated proteins such as meat, game, fish, eggs or cheese. These foods are acid forming in their final end products in the body.
  • Concentrated carbohydrates or starch foods, which are acid forming. These include grains, bread, and all foods containing flour, all sugars and foods containing sugars (sucrose), but not the naturally occurring sugars found in fruit.

Dr. Hay's theory was that, although protein and starch foods are acid forming in their end products in the body, they need different conditions for digestion and should never be combined at the same meal.

This diet is particularly useful in patients with chronic digestive disorders such as flatulence, constipation, indigestion and obesity.

Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is one that includes the Recommended Dietary Allowances, also called RDAs, for all the essential nutrients. These include proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. A balanced diet supports normal growth and development. It also contributes to good health and quality of life.

All foods, when chosen wisely, can be part of a balanced diet. For example, some fat is needed in the diet to support life. But too much fat can increase the risk of heart disease. A balanced diet provides an adequate amount of calories, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. A balanced diet avoids an excess of calories, saturated fats, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar.

In conclusion, smart eating habits mean eating foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol for maximum health benefits.

Raw Food Diet

A typical Raw Foods Diet advocates eating at least 75 percent of your food raw, although there are strict versions which insist on no cooking and a 100 percent vegetarian dietary regimen. Where cooking is allowed it is usually to permit the addition of some cooked whole grains and pulses, plus good quality fish and lean poultry.

Raw and living foods are believed to contain essential food enzymes (living foods contain a higher enzyme content than cooked foods). The cooking process (i.e., heating foods above 116 degrees) is thought to destroy food enzymes. People who follow the raw diet use particular techniques to prepare foods. These include sprouting seeds, grains and beans; soaking nuts and dried fruits; and juicing fruits and vegetables. The only cooking that is allowed is via a dehydrator.

The Raw Food Diet is nutrient dense, there is little or no saturated fat, it is low in sodium, high in potassium and fiber-rich. The Raw Food Diet claims you will feel healthier and more alive, the appearance of your skin will improve as will your digestion, you will lose weight, reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent other deadly diseases.

But according to Rutgers University and Taiwanese researchers at an annual American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco: "Raw isn't always best. Sometimes cooked foods give you more nutrients for the buck."

This diet can be very difficult to maintain long term. In addition, it makes it tough to design a proper balance in your diet and sometimes, raw food is not always healthy food. Some phytochemicals are more easily absorbed by the body when the vegetable has been cooked or processed, for example, lycopene in tomatoes and carotenoids in carrots.

Eating only raw foods can considerably limit the variety of foods that can be included in the diet, such as meat, potatoes and other cereal products, which in turn can limit our nutrient intake. This could lead to nutritional deficiencies -- for example, iron and calcium - if followed for any length of time.

The Hacker's Diet

How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition
By John Walker

From the Web site:
"The Hacker's Diet, notwithstanding its silly subtitle, is a serious book about how to lose weight and permanently maintain whatever weight you desire. It treats dieting and weight control from an engineering and management standpoint, and provides the tools and an understanding of why they work and how to use them that permit the reader to gain control of their own weight. The book is intended primarily for busy, successful engineers, programmers, and managers who have struggled unsuccessfully in the past to lose weight and avoid re-gaining it. Computer-based tools and experiments are available, but a computer is not necessary to use the techniques described in the book; paper and pencil alternatives are provided."

This book is free for you to peruse online. Check it out in its entirety.


If you are not sure if your weight is healthy, you can do so with a tape measure. Simply measure your waist at its narrowest part. For women, a waist measurement less than 35 inches is considered healthy and for men, 40 inches or less.

The diets discussed above often do work, but some are difficult to stick with while others may lead to health problems. If you wish to try one of them, be committed to it. If it does benefit you and you see no negative health effects, all the more power to you.

If you are skeptical of all of these "special" diets, practice the recommended eating habits of watching fat intake, limiting sugary treats and watching salt intake. Put into practice the statement of "all things in moderation" is the least painful way to incorporate a balanced diet, along with an exercise program.