Too Good to Be True Diet Trends (Literally) and What You Should Try Instead Slideshow
January 17, 2013
Out: “Biggest Loser Diet”
Best-selling author of Fire-Up Your Fat Burn and health expert on ABCs Good Morning Texas, Lori Shemek is known as Americas number one fat-loss expert and is the founder of DSL Health Works, a healthy and weight-loss coaching program. When asked what diet trends she thinks are overrated, her first answer was the popular Biggest Loser Diet, and pointed out some flaws with it.
Depending on your current weight, your daily calorie intake may be as low as 1,050 per day on this diet and thus, you may feel hungry. Plans for the online version of the diet can be costly and you must pay a monthly rate for access if this is your option.
In: Dash Diet
The Dash diet originally came into play to reduce hypertension, but Shemek told us that it’s actually a great way to lose weight and promote optimal health. Similar to a Mediterranean diet, a dash diet consists of fresh foods that are high in nutrients.
Shemek squashed our dreams of steak dinners and bacon every day for breakfast when she told us that while Atkins is highly effective in the beginning, it only works for a short amount of time. “By limiting carbs, the body is forced to use its fat as an energy source, [but Atkins] is not heart healthy, and despite its claim of 15 pounds of weight lost in the first two weeks, that will be about it. Most users are not compliant in the long-term,” she says
In: Paleo Diet
Shemek believes that this eat-like-a-cave-man approach is a highly effective weight loss plan. “[The Paleo diet] includes eating lean meats, fish, and non-starchy vegetables, and fruit only. Users are to avoid cereal grains, legumes, dairy, and processed foods.” By keeping a diet that is overall balanced and mostly consists on fresh, natural foods, many people are successful in losing weight.
Out: Gluten-Free Diets
While Celiac disease is becoming a common intolerance among Americans, many people take on the diet for weight-loss purposes, but Shemek strongly urges against it. “People on a gluten free diet put themselves at risk for different deficiencies such as B vitamin deficiencies, calcium, fiber, vitamin D, and iron. Because an item is gluten free, does not mean that it is healthy. Many times, gluten free flours are made with refined carbohydrates and are not any better for you than white bread. A gluten free diet can actually harm you more than help if it is not required,” says Shemek.
While not a specific plan for what foods to eat, Volumetrics has become a very popular approach for dieting. Focusing on the energy density of each food, the diet strives for satiation and lets your body tell you when it’s had enough to eat. Less energy-dense foods have few calories per gram, allowing you to fill your plate with more food at fewer calories.
Out: Detox Diets
Believed as a way of removing toxins from the body, popular detox diets usually consist of a period of fasting followed by a strict diet of raw vegetables, fruit, fruit juices, and water. While on the outside it seems like a very healthy way to eat, Shemek warns dieters who choose this route that they are not scientifically proven to help you lose weight, so tread lightly.
In: Weight Watchers
Shemek is a huge fan of this popular diet plan, which many of us are familiar with. “This diet is highly successful in that it keeps the weight off short-term and long-term for those that adhere to counting points. This is a balanced diet that helps users identify healthier foods [and educate themselves on] portion control,” she says.
Author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy and co-star of TLC’s Freaky Eaters, JJ Virgin is known as one of the nation’s leading experts in fitness and nutrition. Her 25 years of experience in the industry has taught her, among other things, which diets work. A popular one that has been around for centuries is the vegan one, and Virgin has her doubts about it. Because a lot of vegans rely on food-substitutions she feels that they subject themselves to a lot of over processed and unnatural foods that are carb-heavy, low in protein, and high in sugar. The perfect recipe for weight gain.
In: South Beach Diet
Shemek is a fan of the South Beach plan because it relies on good carbohydrates and fats (the stuff we like to eat) to promote successful weight loss. She warns that the initial stages can be challenging for some, but relying on a diet of lean dairy, lean potatoes, fish, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains can be very rewarding in the weight-loss department.
Out: Raw Food’s Diets
Los Angeles nutrition consultant Lauren Schmitt studies diets on a daily basis through her work at Healthy Eating and Training, Inc. One diet that always has her eyes rolling is the 100 percent raw vegetable diet. Many people cannot tolerate eating a diet that is 100percent raw. Their digestive system rebels [against it], she says.
Virgin agrees with Schmitts sentiments, and also points out that this diet is highly popular with celebrities, who have expensive private chefs that are making their raw foods taste really, really good. You might be in for a different story if you were to actually try it, warns Virgin.
In: Flexitarian Diet
The Flexitarian diet works to try and give you the benefits of becoming a vegetarian, without making you give up meat altogether. Thankfully for most steak-lovers, Shemek believes that it works. “The diet is excellent in its approach to weight loss for vegetarians and it is effective in creating optimal health. It uses plant-based proteins and creates the flexibility of choosing different meals that can work for the whole family. Adding meat very occasionally is still allowed on this diet,” she says.
Out: Long Term Fruit and Vegetable Cleanses
Along with the popular detox diet trends that Shemek told us about, Schmitt mentioned another cleanse that has becoming popular, which is the long term fruit and vegetable cleanse. “The human body is smart and can adequately cleanse itself. If we were truly toxic as you may read in literature promoting cleanses, we would die. The body benefits from high intake of fruits and vegetables for nutrients and fiber, but needs more than just produce. We need adequate protein and complex carbohydrates [as well],” she says.
Similar to Volumetrics, in that it doesn’t set a strict standard of foods but rather tracks the foods you’re already eating, food-tracking approaches such as electronic methods can be very effective. Schmitt told us that research has proven that the individuals who rely on electronic methods, such as My Fitness Pal or Livestrong apps, to track their food intake are more successful with losing weight compared to those who don’t. “By journaling one’s food, it opens up one’s eyes to the amount they are consuming and they can correct the meals or snacks that are too large or not balanced properly. Some people find that they eat a great array of food but that they just eat too much,” she explains.
Out: hCG Diet
The hCG diet, which stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, is a diet based on hormonal injections and low-calorie meal consumptions. Beyond the fact that the daily injections are quite costly, Schmitt raises the point that low-calorie meals of most vegetables and lean protein don’t give you enough daily nutrients that you need in order to maintain a healthy diet and comfortable weight. While you may lose weight in the beginning, the low-nutrient diet will eventually convince your body to gain the weight back.
In: Healthy Plate Method
Schmitt explained to us that the Healthy Plate Method is done by dividing your plate into four quarters: one filled with a lean protein, one with a whole grain carbohydrate, and the final two with vegetables and fruit. First used with diabetics, this method helps control blood sugar and promotes weight loss. You don’t need any books, apps, or scales, just the memory of a straightforward plate diagram when you’re sitting down for a meal.
Out: Low-Carb Diet
We know this one, and we know that so many people think that if they skip the bread basket at dinner they’re doing themselves a serious favor. Well, even though it is good to cut here and there, Schmitt agrees with us that this is actually a very poor plan to try to stick to. Besides the fact that you’re missing out on key nutrients that carbohydrates like rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes have, the truth is that people have a very hard time following a lifetime of low-carb meals. Once they finally cave and jump back on the carbohydrate-wagon, their bodies freak out and the weight lost comes right back. An even, well-balanced meal of protein, vegetables, and carbohydrates, is the best way to push your body into shedding some pounds.
It has to be said, that for many food-lovers like us, there are just some foods that we absolutely cannot live without. Schmitt understands that, so she reminded us that really the only true “diet” you could ever be happy with is maintaining a healthy exercise program. Go ahead and indulge on that crème brulee, just make sure to walk it off the next morning.