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Dietitian gives ‘skinny’ on diets,
Stop by Health 1st’s Wellness Wednesday
table in the Children’s Hospital lobby between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. July
16 for information from registered dietitian Janet Carter. She will
also be available to provide individual brief nutritional assessments.
Americans spend more than $40 billion on dieting and diet-related
products each year. Does all that stuff really work? This article will
explore diets and allow consumers to make their own judgment.
A very logical reason may explain why many people seem to always be
dieting, but never lose any weight. Some may be losing weight only to
gain it all back a year later. Others will try another diet and start
the lose-gain cycle all over again. The reason why this happens is
because diets don’t work.
First, one must understand what is meant by dieting, which is a
very broad term that means: food and drink regularly provided or
consumed, according to Webster's Dictionary.
In popular culture, however, it usually means fad diet, or some method
someone is using to try to lose weight. Some fad diets, like Atkins,
South Beach, etc., are usually restrictive and not easily maintained,
which is one of the reasons they don't work. Others may be just a guide
for people to follow when trying to be healthier, which may be a better
option. In general, many of these diet plans are not based on science,
which would provide greater reliability. Registered dietitians (RD) are
trained to keep up on current research about what works and what keeps
An RD-review of some popular diet plans, or fad diets, made the
The South Beach Diet
The first phase of The South Beach Diet cuts out all carbohydrates.
While this may help people lose a lot of weight initially, it is
usually due to the decrease in total calories, not necessarily the
makeup of their intake. Cutting one or more entire food groups is not a
healthy way to lose weight. Also, the rapid weight loss promised during
phase 1 is not healthy, either. Still, if a kick-start is what is
needed most, this might work considering that the rest of the book
helps folks learn how to eat more healthily.
Atkins' Diet (Robert C.
You could ask people on the street if they've heard of the Atkins'
Diet, and you'll likely get a high percentage of affirmative answers.
Ask those people again if they've tried it and were successful, and you
may hear a lot of, “Yes, but I gained all the weight back, and then
some.” The Atkins' Diet restricts carbohydrates while
focusing on protein and vitamin/mineral supplements. Last time I
checked, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat diary were
healthy foods. Since they are healthy, there would be no reason to
eliminate them, unless the dieter has specific medical conditions
restricting intake of grains and sugars found in most fruits. But most
Americans eat too much of these and other foods, which results in
excess calorie intake. While the Atkins' Diet has been temporarily
successful for folks because it lowers their total calorie intake, much
of the weight lost is lost through protein breakdown and the release of
water. This is not a desirable effect, since most people who want to
lose weight are trying to lose fat.
French Women Don't Get Fat
Aside from the fact that the guidelines of this diet are solely based
on the author's personal experiences in France, she makes dietary
claims, but she has no professional background. (For example, she
claims that leeks have magical weight loss qualities). The beginning of
this plan is highly restrictive and nutritionally inadequate. The later
part of the book is a bit more sensible, discussing eating soups and
vegetables; but most of us have enough common sense to understand that
vegetables are healthy and are very low in calories.
The Cheater's Diet (Paul
Rivas gets one thing right in his book: people are unsuccessful with
diets because of boredom and excessive restriction. Where he falls
short, however, is in recommending that people “cheat” on the
Overall, the plan is nutritionally adequate, but evidence does not
support the weekend cheating theory. As a matter of fact, the National
Weight Loss Control Registry has found that successful “losers” do not
cheat on weekends, but indulge in treats in moderation consistently.
Eat Right 4 Your Type
This diet plan bases diet recommendations on blood type. Many of the
recommendations are quite restrictive. Current scientific research does
not support the idea that your dietary needs are connected to your
blood type at all.
So, what does work?
Calorie restriction is the only proven way to lose weight, and keep it
off. Restricting calories must be done while maintaining a healthy
balance of foods and nutrients, while allowing for favorites—in
moderation, of course.
Also, decreasing your calorie intake should be a gradual process. If
you're currently eating 3,000 calories per day, and you should be at
1,800 for weight loss, dropping down immediately will only cause you
great hunger and despair. It would be unlikely for you to stick to such
a plan. A good idea is to decrease calorie intake by 100 to 200
calories per week to allow your body to adjust.
Exercise is a crucial component of weight loss. Our bodies were
designed to move, and they must move if we hope to keep them healthy.
Creating a calorie deficit of about 500 calories through decreased
intake (fewer calories) and increased output (more exercise) can
theoretically yield one pound of weight loss per week.
If you are like many people and would like some structure and some
help, here are some options that are nutritionally sound and healthy,
see a registered dietitian. Go to Outpatient Nutrition Services, on the
sixth floor of Rutledge Tower. Contact Greer Gowen, RD, at 876-0671; or
page 12461. Gowen is available for appointments from 8:30 a.m. to 4
p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 1 to 4 p.m. Friday.
Thousands of folks have been successful with this program, because it
allows for calorie restriction, but not food restriction. It also
teaches nutritionally sound information to its members.
The Supermarket Diet
(Janis Jibrin, RD)
Written by a dietitian, it's almost as good as seeing an RD, which
would provide personalized attention.
The Way to Eat (David L.
Katz is extremely knowledgeable in nutrition, and his book is
Editor's note: The preceding
column was brought to you on behalf of Health 1st. Striving to bring
various topics and representing numerous employee wellness
organizations and committees on campus, this weekly column seeks to
provide MUSC, MUHA and UMA employees with current and helpful
information concerning all aspects of health.
Friday, July 11, 2008
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