Fad “diets”

I’ve been bouncing this around in my head for a while wanting to write about it, but the spark finally struck when my friend Dawn (over at No Patience for Small Talk) asked me a question about a specific one, and I figured if I was going to write back a 3000 word response to her, might as well put it on the blog for everyone and then toss in some of the other ones I wanted to talk about as well.  So here goes!

The one that Dawn asked me about is found here: http://www.truthaboutabs.com/fat-burning-kitchen.html

I hate to even link it, but there ya go.  Knock yourself out.  Of course it makes a lot of promises with very little content since (SURPRISE) dude is trying to sell a book.  I think he learned Marketing from “How to get People to Pay 50$ for a book”.

Ok.. well I just wasted 10+ minutes of my life by watching the video, which just repeats what’s on the website and tries to sell the book.  *sigh* so I can’t even give an opinion on it, since I’m sure as hell not buying the book, but here’s a few general tips.  First, he talks about a few foods you should NEVER eat.. of course he doesn’t say WHAT they are, but there is nothing out there (not even solid fat) that’s just going to totally destroy you, so there’s no foods you should really avoid.  Everything is ok in moderation, even fat.  All the low carb vs low fat vs high protein is all bogus.  It’s all about a balanced diet.  Next he mentions a way to lose weight without endless cardio.  Sure, there’s probably a way to do that… but cardio (like running and cycling) is the most efficient way to burn calories and thus lose weight.  Plus when you’re training for a marathon or a bike ride or an ironman you kinda need the hours and hours of cardio, but it’s not endless and mindless, it serves a purpose (well ok maybe it is mindless).  The one good point he makes is to stay away from the stimulant based supplements that are mis-represented as “fat burners” that are nothing but Caffiene/Guarana/Ginseng bombs… they jack you up to the moon and then drop you like a bad habit.. no thanks.  Now I don’t begrudge a guy for wanting to sell  a book.  Lots of people have books about dieting and exercise and weight loss that are GOOD and VALID, but the whole “OOOOOOoooooo secrets only I know and you can only find in MY book” bullshit is Snake oil sales at it’s finest.  Avoid at all costs.  The only weight you will lose is the 50$ that your wallet gets lightened by.  I can guarantee from the success stories that the people did whatever was in his book, along with a few other common sense suggestions  (like, eat less, move more) and it will make it seem like his plan really did work, when really it was just diet and exercise the whole time.

Ok.. so here is another one.. and this one is a DOOZY!  I apologize for the long copy and paste, but you have to see this one in ALL it’s insanity.

{You “MUST” drink 10 glasses of water each day

Day One

All fruits except bananas. Your first day will
consist of all the fruits you want. It is strongly
suggested that you consume lots of melons the
first day. Especially watermelon and a loupe.
If you limit your fruit consumption to melons,
your chances of losing three lbs. on first day
are Very Good.

Day Two

All vegetables. You are encouraged to eat until
you are stuffed with all the raw or cooked vegetables
of your choice. There is no limit on the amount or type.
For your complex carbohydrate, you will start day two
with a large baked potato for breakfast. You may top
the potato with one pat of butter.

Day Three

A mixture of fruits and vegetables of your choice. Any
amount, any quantity. No bananas yet. No potatoes today.

Day Four

Bananas and milk. Today you will eat as many as eight
(8) bananas and drink three (3) glasses of milk. This
will be combined with the special soup which may be
eaten in limited quantities.

Day Five

Today is feast day. You will eat beef and tomatoes.
Eat two 10 oz. portions of lean beef. Hamburger is
OKAY. Combine this with six whole tomatoes. On
day five you must increase your water intake by
one quart. This is to cleanse your system of the
uric acid you will be producing.

Day Six

Beef and vegetables. Today you may eat an unlimited
amount of beef and vegetables. Eat to your hearts content.

Day Seven

Today your food intake will consist of brown rice,
fruit juices and all the vegetables you care to consume.

Tomorrow morning you WILL be 10-17 lbs. lighter
than one week ago. }

OK.. first off, this is not a diet.  This is a PURGE.  I’m sure it works, but only for the 7 days you’re on it.  Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber, which is good for you, but “eat all you want” you can stuff yourself silly and still only be at like 600 calories which is not good.  Oh and day 5… “You will need to increase your water intake to flush out the Uric acid in your body”… Uric acid causes gout, so I think that’s you’re first sign this is not a healthy diet.  Like I said, this diet works, for the 7 days you do it, assuming it doesn’t kill you.  The first half of the week you starve yourself, the second half of the week you eat foods (including the special soup which is basically water + veggies) that, well to be delicate, keep you on the toilet ALL DAY LONG.  Yes you lose weight, mostly through dehydration.  NOT GOOD.

Most of the other fad diets work along these lines.  And there’s a name for this…. STARVATION.  I don’t care if they call it appetite suppression, all it is is malnutrition and starvation and sure as hell you lose weight, but you don’t learn how to eat a healthy balanced diet and as soon as you go back to your coke and mcdonalds you gain it all back and then some and all this does is further prolong the yo-yo dieting (and leads to serious eating disorders).

Here’s a few other examples.

“Right Size Smoothies”… basically full of fiber to keep you full.. again, appetite supression = starvation.  (Even Slim Fast fits in this category, but at least Slim Fast does condone a healthy diet and exercise rather than just “drink this and lose weight” you still gotta work for it).

Sensa – OK.. I don’t even know what this shit is.  I know you sprinkle it on your food and it makes you eat less.. for all I know it’s a sulfur compound that really tastes like shit and makes you not want to eat.  Sadly, it’s probably some bio-engineered chemical appetite suppressant that stop pathways and signals in your brain and well, that’s even worse.  Avoid this crap like that plague, hell avoid ANYTHING that says you can lose weight without exercise or changing what you eat.  Remember Kiddo’s if it sounds too good to be true, it surely is.

Alli – Prevents fat from being absorbed in the body.  Oh boy… how to be delicate with this.  This is one of those things that the side effect is worse than the affliction it’s designed to treat.  Remember Olestra potato chips? yeah.. Like that, only worse.  I won’t go into details.

ANYTHING in a pill bottle – Snake oil, pure and simple.  Sugar pills and placebos… “Take this pills with 10 glasses of water along with a healthy diet and exercise” …. Umm… yeah, ya know you can do the diet and exercise without the pill and get the same result…. just saying.

The key is to not diet.  “Diets” are a short term fix.  This may be just fine if you need to only lose 5 pounds.  But if you need to lose a lot, like I do, and you want to keep it off, you have to make an entire lifestyle change.  Bad news boys and girls, there is no end to this.  This is everyday for the rest of your life.  Yeah, that’s a serious commitment.  But 7 days is not going to solve all your problems.  In fact the 7 day purge listed above is more likely to kill you then make you healthy… think about that.  Make smart decisions and stick to them.  It’s not easy, God knows it’s not.  But slow and steady wins this race, now THAT is a promise you can live by.

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  • About Me

    I am a recent graduate in Food Science (NC State, 2009) and I work for a major food manufacturing company. I love food, but I can no longer eat anything that crosses my path. About 24 months ago I begin a serious struggle to get my obesity under control and reduce my chances of developing Type II diabetes. Since September of '09 I have lost 50 pounds and I still have a long ways to go. I've started eating better and exercising more, including taking up running.