A brief timeline shows how we’re gluttons for diet fads – LA Times


A brief timeline shows how we're gluttons for diet fads - LA Times

‘ve barely dug ourselves out from beneath the pile of new diet books that arrived to kick off the year, and already the “get in shape for summer” diet books are filling our mailboxes.

That raises the question: If any of these diets actually worked, why would we need more?

That’s because fad diets aren’t going away any time soon. They’re just too appealing, said Dr. Lawrence J. Cheskin of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of the school’s Weight Management Center. And sometimes, they even do work.

But that’s no endorsement, he cautions.

Cheskin said that, by definition, fad diets are those that have not been studied objectively. “Almost anything you do that is a diet or a change in habits is going to look like it’s working,” he said. “The question is, can they keep [off the weight] for the rest of their lives? That’s a harder job.”

via A brief timeline shows how we’re gluttons for diet fads – LA Times.


DASH named best overall diet for fifth year: report | Reuters

(Reuters) – The DASH diet, rich in vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy, has been named the best overall diet for the fifth consecutive year, outpacing Weight Watchers and the Mediterranean diet, U.S. News & World Report said on Tuesday.

DASH, which was developed to lower blood pressure without medication, was also chosen by a panel of health experts as the top diabetes diet and the best plan for healthy eating.

Weight Watchers retained the No. 1 spot as the best diet for weight loss, followed by the HMR (Healthy Management Resources) low-calorie, meal-replacement plan; and Jenny Craig, which offers prepared meals to drop excess pounds.

“The DASH diet has been our top diet overall for five years now and this is the fifth year we are evaluating and ranking diets,” said Angela Haupt, senior health and wellness editor at U.S. News & World Report.

via DASH named best overall diet for fifth year: report | Reuters.

A Call for a Low-Carb Diet – NYTimes.com

People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study shows.

The findings are unlikely to be the final salvo in what has been a long and often contentious debate about what foods are best to eat for weight loss and overall health. The notion that dietary fat is harmful, particularly saturated fat, arose decades ago from comparisons of disease rates among large national populations.

But more recent clinical studies in which individuals and their diets were assessed over time have produced a more complex picture. Some have provided strong evidence that people can sharply reduce their heart disease risk by eating fewer carbohydrates and more dietary fat, with the exception of trans fats. The new findings suggest that this strategy more effectively reduces body fat and also lowers overall weight.

story continues…. via A Call for a Low-Carb Diet – NYTimes.com.

Fad Diets Will Seem Even Crazier After You See This : The Salt : NPR

Fad Diets Will Seem Even Crazier After You See This


On one level, it’s easy to understand the allure of a fad diet: Eat this, not that and you’ll lose weight, guaranteed. Who doesn’t want an easy way to shed unwanted pounds?

The Master Cleanse: Adherents are required to avoid any food and just drink a concoction of water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper to “detoxify” their bodies. As Piper in Orange Is The New Black proves, it’s tough to make it through on this meager meal.

It was that sort of thinking that first prompted photographer Stephanie Gonot to investigate many current fad diets. “I had tried Weight Watchers — and it works,” the Los Angeles-based freelancer tells The Salt. “And then you kind of slip off of that, and then you think, ‘What else can you do that is easier than counting points?’ … So I started researching [other diets] and thought, ‘These do not sound healthy.’ ”

Healthful they may not be. But visually stirring? Absolutely. Looking at what such diets require you to subsist on — lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne for the Master Cleanse, for example— helps crystallize just how absurd (for most people) they are.

“I think it’s funny to see exactly what these diets entail visually instead of reading about them,” Gonot says.

The series, called “Fad Diets,” is really a reflection of a culture that’s become overly obsessed with dieting in general.

The Baby Food Diet: This diet calls for replacing several meals and snacks with tiny jars of baby food, plus a healthful dinner. The diet was widely attributed to Tracy Anderson, trainer to celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, though Anderson has since reportedly denied endorsing it.

“There’s all this stuff in the media about fad diets,” she says, “and I think we need to eat better and watch what you eat, but you don’t necessarily need these diets to take care of that.”

That’s a point the medical community is making as well. In a commentary published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers Sherry Pagoto of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Bradley Appelhans of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago issued a call for an end to fad dieting.

The Five Bite Diet: Basically, followers are allowed to eat any food they want for lunch or dinner — just five bites of it. Oh, and they also have to skip breakfast.

Pagoto and Appelhans argue that our obsession with macronutrients — carbs and fat, among them — misses the point that the best diet is the one you actually stick with. And no diet, they argue, can truly be effective without an overhaul in lifestyle as well.

The 7-Day Color Diet: An attempt to get people to eat more fruits and vegetables, this diet requires followers to eat foods of just a single color each day. It ends with a day in which you “eat the rainbow,” so to speak. Here’s Gonot’s cheeky take on orange day.

Pagoto notes that multiple studies have compared diets that vary by how many carbs, protein grams and fat grams they require you to eat. “A lot of times, it’s a draw: No diet is better than the other,” she says in a video press release. “When a diet does outdo another diet in terms of weight loss, it’s by a very small amount.”

(Not all obesity researchers would agree. As we’ve reported, one study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2012 found that a low-carb diet was a clear winner over a low-fat diet and low-glycemic diet.)

The Hollywood or Grapefruit Diet: Followers eat half a grapefruit with every meal in the belief that enzymes in the fruit somehow magically break down fat (no, they don’t). It’s a low-carb diet that calls for lots of dietary fat and protein. Pass the bacon.

Stephanie Gonot/Courtesy of the photographer

Still, Pagoto has hit on something that has stymied many dieters forever: the challenge of sticking with a weight-loss plan that’s both healthful and effective.

“We really need to shift our conversation away from what exactly people should be eating to how do you change their behavior, how do you get people to make long-term changes,” Pagoto says.

The Model Diet: This was Gonot’s tongue-in-cheek take on popular perception of how models keep their appetites in check. “You hear that models drink coffee and smoke cigarettes all day, or you see them holding a Diet Coke behind the scenes,” Gonot says.

Stephanie Gonot/Courtesy of the photographer

When it comes to that effort, images like those in Gonot’s series can help, says Kate Pilewski, a student health dietitian at Duke University. She and her colleagues plan to use the photographs as part of their student outreach during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week in the spring.

“We give students advice about why fad diets don’t provide the nutrients they need,” Pilewski tells The Salt. “But seeing [these diets] in photos is really striking and makes them look much less appealing than hearing that Beyonce did it.”

via Fad Diets Will Seem Even Crazier After You See This : The Salt : NPR.

No science behind blood-type diets | Reuters

No science behind blood-type diets

By Kathryn Doyle

NEW YORK | Thu May 30, 2013 2:39pm EDT

(Reuters Health) – They are a fad that refuses to fade, but no solid evidence exists to show whether or not eating plans tailored to ABO blood types promote health, say Belgian researchers who tried their best to find some.

After sifting through the scientific literature, researchers identified just one indirectly related study – it looked at the effects of low-fat diets on cholesterol levels in people with different blood types – and even that one was weak, they concluded.

Some studies have found links between blood type and risk for developing blood clots or certain cancers, of having a heart attack and of hemorrhaging when infected with Dengue fever.

But no peer-reviewed research has indicated that eating foods supposedly compatible with one’s blood type will improve health or induce weight loss more than a general diet plan.

Medical professionals already knew this, according to the study’s senior author, Dr. Philippe Vandekerckhove at the Belgian Red Cross-Flanders in Mechelen.

“However, the general populace have access to blood type diets, regardless of medical guidance, and cannot be expected to be able to determine whether or not the health claims are, in fact, ‘evidence-based’,” Vandekerckhove told Reuters Health.

Blood type is determined by proteins on the surface of red blood cells and antibodies in the blood. The most familiar grouping, known as ABO blood types, refers to whether a person’s cells carry the proteins known as A or B, or both of them, or neither of the two – which is designated blood type O.

The idea that blood type influences an individual’s life – and even personality – is popular in parts of Asia. In 2011, for example, a Japanese politician apologized for a rude remark he had made about tsunami victims by blaming his blood type (see Reuters story of July 6, 2011 here: reut.rs/qH6u58).

But blood type eating regimens are often premised on the theory that blood group signals a population’s evolutionary background – primarily agrarian or hunter-gatherer, for instance – and that ancient history inclines people of certain blood types to thrive or suffer when eating one kind of diet or another.

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Your brain is a calorie hog (and other reasons not to fast/juice cleanse/starve yourself)


Did you know that your brain and nerves take about half of your glucose (simple sugar we use for energy) a day? (About 500 calories!)

This fact is key in why yo-yo diets don’t work and why people tend to gain more weight back after one. Your brain and nerves function best on carbs/glucose. Because of this your body stores branches of glucose in your liver (called glycogen) and breaks bits off when you haven’t eaten for a few hours and your blood sugar drops. If you’re very active you only have about 3 hours of stores, and if you’re very inactive you can go about 24 hours.

So what’s next? Once you run out of glycogen your body signals to release amino acids from your muscles. Your body can make glucose from your muscle tissue (and a fact that sounds scary to me, this process also breaks down your liver a bit too).In the first few days of your diet you aren’t using your fat stores so much to fuel your body – 90% of your energy comes from your muscles breaking down.

After a few days your body switches to ketosis – where it fuels your body with fat, but it still breaks down some protein to help fuel the brain. (Your body’s pH also becomes more acidic which leads to a sexy foul odor in your mouth called acetone breath.) In ketosis your appetite is suppressed and your metabolism slows down, partially because your muscle is wasting and demanding less energy.

On a low carb diet, the body does use some of the proteins you’re eating to be converted for glucose for your brain, but some still do come from your muscle tissue.

So it honestly drives me a bit crazy when I see someone trying to lose weight on say, the ‘master cleanse’ which just consists of drinking water with lemon, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. I once saw a male model on his 20+ day of that!

I think many people get frustrated with their weight and decide to take ‘hardcore’ action and then go on super calorie restricted diets, but in the end those 30 pounds you lose may be (will probably be) even more gained. Sticking to a healthy diet for the long haul will not only make you skinnier, but healthier with more energy too (and you won’t go through a couple of weeks of hating life and acting out at people too!) And if you hate exercise, at least go for a 30 minute walk, 5 days a week.

Remember if a diet makes you feel awful to follow, it’s probably not a good diet!

Enjoy your day everyone!