Fad Diets—Fact or Fiction
by Janna Gordon, RPh, MBA
July 10, 2009
brought to you by Bellevue Pharmacy, a ProjectAWARE sponsor
How many people suddenly realize that the wedding, class reunion,
or other special event is just around the corner and want to make
a drastic change in their appearance by losing weight? Some dieters
are obsessed with the perfect number, either a size of clothing
or a place on the scale. Almost every person will admit to being
on at least one diet, and unfortunately, most will admit to multiple
diets. This “yo-yo” dieting is a trend that lends to
the overall opinion by health experts and dieters themselves that
diets, especially fad diets simply do not work.
Most have probably heard of the Cabbage Soup Diet or the Grapefruit
Diet or know someone determined to lose weight on the latest diet
book craze, such as the South Beach Diet. Fad diets are usually
associated with a quick fix, rather than a lifetime change in eating
habits. Unfortunately, fad diet claims are often too good to be
true, and while some people may actually have the wherewithal to
stick to the restrictions and lose weight, many regain the weight
plus add on more pounds. Focusing on or eliminating certain foods
from daily intake can set a dieter up for nutritional deficiencies
if the diet is followed for extended periods of time.
An extensive review of scientific literature was performed by the
United States Department of Agriculture to evaluate success of fad
diets. They found the key ingredient to weight loss is calorie restriction.
Eating 1400-1500 calories per day resulted in weight loss, with
or without exercise and regardless of the weight loss diet. This
number of calories induces weight loss because more calories are
burned than consumed.
Eating a balanced diet of “good” carbohydrates, protein,
and fat will set up healthy eating habits that will help maintain
a healthy weight and extend benefits beyond the restrictions of
the diet. Good carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole
grains should total 5 to 7 servings per day and when looking at
a plate should take up to two-thirds of the space on the plate.
Space for protein and fats should be maintained at a minimum.
Maintaining portion control is also a mainstay of good eating habits.
Serving size is required on every food purchased and will define
calories per serving. Examples of common food servings include:
1 slice of whole-grain bread, 1⁄2 cup of cooked pasta, 1⁄2
cup cooked vegetable, 1⁄2 cup of fruit, and 1 chicken breast.
For those who don’t like to measure, relating serving sizes
to familiar objects will help some people manage serving sizes.
For example, a serving of raw vegetables is roughly the size of
a fist, a serving of pasta is about the size of a scoop of ice cream,
a serving of grilled fish is like the size of a checkbook.
Other food management suggestions include using smaller plates
and serving from the kitchen onto the plate rather than serving
family style from the table, both suggestions decrease second servings.
Put leftovers away quickly, in portion controlled servings. Never
eat out of the bag or carton. When eating out, ask for half portions,
share an entrée or dessert, or take 1⁄2 home for a
later meal. Buffets are challenging so try to plan your portions
by viewing the buffet prior to filling your plate.
for all foods, similar to counting calories. Total daily points
allotted, decrease as you lose weight.
Pay as you go, with no upfront expense
and can accommodate special dietary needs
• Encourages eating from all food groups
• Group meetings
does not restrict any food (3 cookies may be equivalent to
whole grain sandwich, although cookies would typically be
less nutritious than the sandwich)
| The Zone
restriction; permits fruits but eliminates almost all grains.
a decent diet if at or near goal weight
restrictive diet that may be hard to stay on long term
| South Beach
|| Similar to Atkins
Diet, but less emphasis on meat. Limits fruits (phase 1),
legumes, and vegetables.
|| • Low
glycemic index diet
• Promotes heart healthy fats
| • Very
restrictive diet that may be hard to stay on long term
• Restricts some food groups
Meals - Jenny Craig and NutriSystem, Seattle Sutton
|| Almost all food
consumed is prepared and pre-packaged and must be purchased
to follow the diet.
|| • Convenient,
• Calorie controlled to ensure weight loss
| • Transition
to regular eating/cooking may be difficult
• Program expense of meal replacement
| LA Weight Loss
bars and snacks, plus weekly food.
|| • Center
• Personal counseling
• Diet and exercise recommendations and motivation
• Program Emphasizes safe, healthy weight loss and lifelong
program with registration fee, plus weekly food costs
|| Online site,
with a wide variety of diet plans to choose from.
|| • Peer
groups, mentors, and registered dietitians
• 21 diet plans, with flexibility for special dietary
• Online resources for counseling, chat rooms, and information.
• Fresh rather than frozen food
| • Busy
• A lot of distracting links and ads on site
• Email spam
• Extra costs for program add-ons
• Prepared foods are expensive
| Crazy Fads,
i.e. Grapefruit Diet, Cabbage Soup Diet,
|| Diet that focuses
on only one food group.
to offer a quick fix
|| • Nutritionally
deficient if able to be followed for extended periods of time
• No transition for normal eating
| Take Shape For
|| Protein sparing,
modified fast (5 & 1 plan; 5 meal replacements and one
lean and green meal per day)
|| • Very
low calorie diet
• Rapid weight loss, averaging 3 to 5 lbs per week
• Clinically tested and proven to be safe and effective
for weight loss
• Weekly support calls including – Nurses Support
Call; Stay in Shape Maintenance Call, and Doctors Support
| • Program
expense of meal replacement and food for lean and green meals
• Places dieters in a mild state of ketosis
ConsumerSearch.com reports that the following diet tips are important
for long term success of any diet plan:
• An eating plan that is flexible and sustainable
• Regular physical activity
• Counseling and guidance
For dieters with 20lbs or less to lose, Weight Watchers is flexible
and encourages eating from all food groups, provides in-person group
support, and is reasonably priced, with pay as you go fees. Once
you reach your goal and stay there for 6 weeks, you continue as
a lifetime member and maintenance support is free.
Take Shape For Life provides a rapid results through a modified
fast for patients who have 20 or more pounds to loose. Bellevue
Pharmacy supports the Take Shape for Life program that has been
shown to be effective through several clinical studies. For more
information on Take Shape for Life please call 1-800-728-0288 and
ask to speak with a consultant pharmacist or click on the following
Online users can enroll and order meal replacements to be delivered
directly to their homes.
Popular Diets Versus Dietary Guidelines. An American Cancer Institute
Quick-Weight-Loss or Fad Diets. AHA Recommendation. www.americanheart.org
Evidence-Based Evaluation of Popular Weight Loss Diets 2004, Feinberg
School of Medicine, Northwestern University.
Weight Loss Programs. www.consumersearch.com/www/health_and_fitness/weight-loss-programs/review.html
For questions and further information, contact Bellevue