If one of your resolutions is to loose weight – read on.
Analysis of some of the more
popular diets are shown below. As our girths grow – and with it the risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even some cancers,
it is time to sit down at the international dinner table with something more than desert on our minds.
"There is no mystery as to why many Americans, Australians
and now sadly young Asians
are gaining weight. We have a body that needs approximately 2,200 calories a day to survive and a food industry that insists on producing and pushing 3,700 calories a day. Do the math and you'll see what's going wrong."[ 1 ]
It is only when some of us travel abroad to France, Italy, Spain or Greece
we learn how each meal is a kind of celebratory event to be savored and enjoyed.
And while we Australians
interpret that "longer meals means more food" experts say the opposite is true. The slower you eat, the less you eat [ 2 ]
It takes the brain about 20 minutes to figure out that your stomach is full, but you can stuff an awful lot of food down in 20 minutes if you're eating quickly [ 3 ]
By comparison a meal in any of the Mediterranean
countries could take two hours or more. Yet frequently, less food is consumed than at the American
dinner table[ 4 ]
typically walk to the bakery, the butcher shop and the vegetable stand for food that is prepared fresh every day. Americans
on the other hand, try to park as close to the supermarket as possible and load their groceries into the back of their Sports Utility Vehicle [ 5 ]
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This program stated back in the early 1960's when a few friends began meeting regularly to discuss the best methods of loosing weight. That small group group grew into millions of men
and women worldwide who all follow the Weight Watchers
does not tell people what they can and can't eat. They simply provide guidelines for people to make healthy eating decisions along with a healthy lifestyle - meaning mental, emotional and physical health.
members get motivation, mutujal support and encouragement at local group meetings and online. Items such as food choices, recipes, exercise and calorie-burn calculators as well as weight loss tracker and progress charts, empower dieters to develop sustainable lifestyle changes.
Not everyone wants the group support that Weight Watchers
offers. Maybe their online program will provide the anominity some people need, especially men
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This Australian program began in 1983 and commenced operations in the USA in 1985. The Jenny Craig
method is a three-level food-mind-body plan to help people loose weight - and keep it off. The program is
The first level
teaches members how to eat the foods they want - in small frequent portions
The second level teaches members how to increase their energy levels with simple activity
The third level
shows how to build more balance into member's lives in order to maintain weight loss and healthy diet
gets praise for teaching portion control, but we question the value of using pre-packaged foods. Once you go off the packaged meals, it is difficult to translate these portions into real meals. [ 7 ] For the most part these are frozen breakfasts, lunches and dinners and even deserts. Members supplement these meals with fresh fruit and vegetables
Everything you eat is out of a box. You are dealing with a limited range of items you are provided to eat. The suport staff are not trained nutritionalists
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Dr Atkins New Diet Revolutuion
Steak with Bearnaise sauce; eggs and bacon; cheddar cheese omlettes. These rich foods are allowed as part of the conroversial diet described in Dr Atkins
phenomenal best seller. Not only will you loose weight on this low-carbohydrate diet, but it promises better heart health and memory function
Our bodies burn both fat and carbohydrates for energy, but carbs are used first. By drastically reducing carbs and eating more protein and fat, our bodies
naturally lose weight by burning the stored body fat more efficiently.
However the Atkins diet remains very controversial in Europe and the USA
"The Atkins diet
works at producing weight loss. It works improving triglycerides and HDL(good)
cholesterol. But I remain, like many other experts, concerned about the long-term safety of this diet" [ 8 ]
Other comments include;
"Our worries over the Atkins diet
go way past the question of whether it is effective for losing weight or even keepinbg your weight off. We worry that the diet promotes heart disease. We have concerns over whether this diet is a healthy diet for preventing heart disease, stroke and cancer.
There is also potential loss of bone and for people with liver and kidney problems to have trouble with high amounts of protein in this diet." [ 9 ]
The American Dietetic Association
also has concerns about the Atkins diet
. "The body needs a minimum of 150 grams of carbohydrates daily for efficient and healthy functioning. Below that, normal metabolic activity is disrupted
" [ 10 ]
"Fruits and berries are much more indicative of early man's eating pattern than eating only protein, and we haven't changed all that much, physiologically. Carbohydrates
,especially in the form of vegetables, grains and fruits are more efficiently converted into glucose. The brain needs glucose
to functon efficently. It takes a long time to break down fat and protein into glucose
to get to the brain." [ 11 ]
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The Sonoma Diet by Connie Guttersen, PhD. RD (Meredith Book, 2005)
This diet book has a strict first phase but eases into a sensible diet plan
similar to the Mediterranean
approach - and the really good news - you can drink wine
The First Wave is the most extreme, the most low-calorie. It may be unrealistic to ban all processed food and sugars from the house, particularly when not everyone is on the diet. Some experts suggest you skip the gimmicky First Wave and just go direct to the more sustainable Wave 2
which encourages a more sustained weight loss with a healthy diet with some indulgences. [ 12 ]
encourages us to slow down and taste the food. She encourages seeing her diet plan as marrying pleasure with health, where every meal is aboput "celebration, not deprivation".
Delicious recipies included at no charge.
The unique way to control meals is by the "plate-and-bowl" concept
, where you divide your plate into sections that should be filled with the appropriate amounts of grains, dairy, fruit or vegetables (depending on the meal). It is a simplified method to control calories, without counting calories, weighing foods or keeping a food journal
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The Pritikin Principle by Nathan Pritikin
This is a low fat diet, not vegetarian but largely based on vegetables, grains and fruit. The fat in the diet is limited to a mere 10%
. It was designed to promote well-being by lowering cholesterol and helping diabetics normalise their blood sugar without taking insulin. That people lost weight was an added bonus
Since 1976 more than 70,000 people have spent time in the Pritikin Longevity Centre
learning how to eat healthy, prepared low-fat meals.
The higher the calories density of any given food, the more likely it is to cause weight gain. A pound of broccoli, for instance (raw and unbuttered) has only 130 calories
. But a pound of chocolate chip cookies has 2,140 calories. OK, broccoli good - chocolate chip cookies, bad
You will lose weight on the Pritikin diet
, but the likelihood of the weight returning after one stops strictly adhering to the diet is high.
Another problem is the low-fat content may actually be harmful to our health. Pritikin
also inhibits the intake and absorption of fat soluble vitamins and can even limit the anount of essential fatty acids provided by the diet needed for normal cell function, healthy skin and tissue growth and development. Check out the fingernails of someone on the Pritikin diet [ 13 ]
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New Beverly Hills Diet by Judy Mazel, HCI, 1996
The original Beverly Hills
diet began with a highly restrictive 42 day initiation phase.
The new one forgoes many of the earlier extremes and now, according to its author, meets recommended standards for a balanced weekly diet
Note the phrase "balanced weekly diet"
As far as Judy Mazel
is concerned our dietary troubles began when we adopted a 3-square meals-a-day
and they'd be over if we stopped combining carbohydrates with protein, carbohydrates with protein and fruit with anything
"It isn't what you eat or how much you eat that makes you fat says Mazel
, it is when you eat and what you eat together"
For those of you who thrive on positive reinforcement and are very fond of fruit, and cope best when armed with affirmations, then this book may suit you
The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston, MD (Rodale Press 2003)
Where did the term "Three square meals a day" originate ?
A best seller because it has a plan that works and is sustainable. The diet includes lots of healthy foods, especially in the 3rd and final phase.
Managing hunger and staying with the plan gets easier as you progress through the early stricter phases
They may sound similar, but the South Beach Diet
is more than just a heart friendly version of the Atkins
diet, although they have a lot in common
Both have a server induction phase, followed by a long-term eating plan. The differences are;
– The South Beach
diet bans unhealthy fats but strongly supports healthy ones.
- The South Beach
diet doesn't count grams of carbs. It recommends carbohydrates with a low glycolic index (low sugar carbs)
. They don't cause the blood sugar level to rise and fall as quickly. (this may sound very familiar to fans of the Sugar Busters diet
The diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein. Most important it doesn't leave out any major food groups
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Dr Phil's Ultimate Weight Solution
Phil McGraw, PhD, Free Press, 2003
, the plain-talking, self-improvement guru and psychologist, spent eight years counseling people who were up to 300 pounds overweight.
outlines seven key points to understanding and facing your "personal truth".
You learn how to counter emotional and impulse eating. He writes about substituting a new habit (say, taking a shower
) for an old one (eating leftover cheesecake
). You remove junk food from your pantry and substituting it with foods with high nutritional yield and fewer calories
(usually high in fiber)
Exercise becomes a priority.
The book includes lots of case studies, self tests and charts to help readers put words into action. He encourages writing in a journal to help you regain emotional control
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Eat More Weigh Less by Dr Dean Ornish, MD, 2000
Unlike other diet books that make big promises, this one soft-pedals the health claims for the diet for the
masses. It's adapted from his regimen to reverse heart disease
Ornish is well known in the medical community because of his success in reversing blockages to the heart, once thought impossible without surgery and drugs
explanations are simple and well supported, not like other books full of scientific theories and explanations, without clinical studies to back them up
His main point is that eating a high-fiber, low fat vegetarian diet will not only help you stay healthy, or get you there, but also will help you to lose weight.
It is accomplished, says Ornish
by a combination of diet and exercise that allows the body's fat-burning mechanism to work most efficiently
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The Zone by Barry Sears, PhD, Regan Books, 1995
is the title of a mega-selling book. It is the place where we find ourselves "feeling alert, refreshed, and full of energy" according to Barry Sears
Like other popular diet books, The Zone
offers more than just weight loss claims. By re-tooling your metabolism with a diet that is 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbohydrates, The Zone
contends that you can expect to turn back encroaching heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Another much touted advantage is better athletic performance. Sears
doesn't come right out and claim he has the cure for heart disease or diabetes, or how to win athletic competitions, instead he provides glowing anecdotes from people who have taken The Zone
Put simply The Zone
is a metabolic state in which "the body works at peak efficiency"
and that state is achieved by eating a set ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fat
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The Three Hour Diet: How Low-Carb Diets Make You Fat and Timing Makes You Thin by Jorge Cruise
The author, a fitness journalist, believes the key to
his diet is a trinity of timing:
• Eat breakfast within one hour of rising
• Eat every three hours thereafter
• Stop eating three hours before bedtime
passionately believes that eating this way increases BMR (baseline metabolic rate – how fast your body burns calories),
increases energy and decreases appetite.
However while people do report successfully losing weight on this plan, there isn't agreement on whether it's a metabolic improvement to spread three meals into five or six smaller meals
Nuts to you
In at least one African nation, Gambia
, peanuts frequently make up the basis of a meal; a favourite dish being tomato and peanut stew.
While we consider stews fattening, they are enjoyed in this culture. The trick is to load the pot with vegetables, spices and of course nuts, which can replace meat or poultry as a source of protein
And does it work?
Well not only do the Gambians have virtually no weight problems
, they also have the lowest international incidence of all types of cancer.
| English sailors in the mid eighteenth century began receiving better pay, and better food. Meals were taken together on the same gun deck on wooden trestles and with square wooden plates – hence the expression " three square meals a day "
The main thing to remember about dieting is that you will gain weight from calories
. Whether those calories
come from carbohydrates, fat or protein,
they are the source of whether we gain or loose weight
The key to successful weight loss is making slow and gradual changes to eating and lifestyle behaviours. Experts recommend trimming 500 calories a day and increasing exercise to result in a 2 – 4 kilos weekly weight loss
You can loose weight using anything that helps you eat less, but that doesn't mean it's good for you
In the end it's not fat, it's not protein, it's not carbs, it's calories
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