This might seem weird to compare popular “diets” in a blog, but it’s important to remember that we are not just dealing with a reduction of calories when trying to lose weight. We are looking for a way for the body to get nutrient-rich instead of nutrient-poor foods. Most of the “diets” have some positive benefits, but the negative benefits are greater. This includes those negative benefits that don’t allow the body the proper nutrients, or difficult to follow, or don’t prevent a rebound weight gain once the diet is stopped. Remember, almost 98% of all diets fail within two years.
Less Conventional Approaches to Weight Loss
The table below is adapted from Zonya Health International (www.zonya.com).
|Low carbohydrate (<100gday) (Atkins, South Beach, Protein Power)||Rapid initial weight loss; low circulating glucose; may see drop in lipids||Much of the initial weight loss is water; could cause poor stamina and ketosis; Atkins high in unhealthy fat; high protein taxes kidney; no higher weight loss shown with this eating vs. low-fat eating after 1 yr; artificial sweetener use touted; hard to follow long term|
|Extremely low fat (<20% calories from fat) (T-Factor, Pritikin)||Wide variety of wholesome foods allowed at normal portions; reduces risk of heart disease and cancer||Little satiety and palatability; decreased absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals|
|Novel diets promoting certain nutrients, foods, or combinations||May promote rapid weight loss||Nutritionally inadequate; doesn’t promote permanent change in food habits or body weight|
|Suzanne Sommer’s Get Skinny||Reducing sweets and high-calorie starches may foster better glucose control in diabetics||Book teaches food combining which is not based on solid science; carbohydrate content of meals vary widely; glycemic index use eliminates some healthful food|
|Fit for Life||Encourages vegetables||Teaches food combining and diet is low in calcium, zinc, iron, and vitamins B12 and D|
|Enter the Zone||Six small eating sessions offer steady supply of energy||Low in fiber and marginal in some nutrients; portrays some high-glycemic foods as dangerous, even though they may have merit nutritionally|
|Very low calorie (<800/day) or formula (Optifast, Medifast, Cambridge)||Quick weight loss Eliminates behavior cues and food decisions||Low-calorie diets can be dangerous if not monitored by a doctor; does not foster long-term behavior change|
|Premeasured (Jenny Craig, Nutisystem)||Generally safe and effective Eliminates decision making from eating||Expensive, clients may have trouble transitioning to their own home-cooked meals|
|Paleo Diet (Caveman Diet) (Recent evidence shows “cavemen” ate more fruits and vegetables and less meat than this diet now)||You will eat a clean diet without additives, preservatives, or chemicals; Get the anti-inflammatory benefit from the plant nutrients in fruits, vegetables, oils, nuts, and seeds; Get more iron through increased red meat intake; Improved satiety; Lose weight primarily due to the limited food choices.||Eating plan pricey; No grains, whole or otherwise, which are good for health and energy; deficient in calcium since no dairy; can create a nutrient deficiency; diet hard for vegetarians no beans – low in protein); hard to get enough carbs if you are an athlete|
|hCG Diet||Rapid weight loss; quick fix; No exercise required, but weight loss faster if done; many lose weight with this when other diets failed||May have medical side effects; calorie intake 500 to 800 calories a day; Weight can return once off the diet; may enlarge breasts in men|
|Eat Right for Your Blood Type||Can lose weight because diet is restrictive; can lower cholesterol, but not proven if diet is responsible or just diet low in fat||Complicated and time consuming; may increase risk for certain diseases depending on your blood type; can cause nutrient deficiencies|
|Weight Watchers||No foods are forbidden. Weight Watchers teaches an all-things-in-moderation approach; can enjoy your favorite foods in controlled portions; no list of foods to be eliminated or avoided; some education on nutrition is provided; encourages portion control||Cost may be prohibitive; the group atmosphere isn’t for everyone; weekly weigh-ins are required; weekly progress may discourage you; there is no set diet|
|Slim 4 Life||Convenient; only have to prepare 1 meal a day; reduced calorie diet so you probably will lose weight; minimal preparation; provides adequate amount of vitamins & minerals||May not work well for long-range meal planning; does not meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; doesn’t provide enough of the healthy food groups|