Current Fad Diets 2014
I recently reviewed some popular commercial diets of the distant and not so distant past. (Thank God the tapeworm diet was short-lived!) The following batch of opinions concern relatively new diets, within the last 5 years or so. Like virtually any diet plan, with the notable exception of anything involving the aforementioned tapeworm, there are some pluses and minuses to most all eating plans.
Let me begin by stating I do not believe there is a single best dietary plan that would cover any and everyone. My personal experience of the past thirty-plus years reveals that, for me, multiple plans have had successful outcomes to some degree. Like most everyone, I have gone through phases of malaise and sheer boredom with my diet. “If I ever have to eat another can of water-packed tuna in this lifetime, it will be too soon.” My motivation, like body fat loss, has never been linear, but rather it waxes and wanes. This is normal for the vast majority of people, with the exception of those obsessed with body image to the degree that it takes over their life.
Let us now have a look at a few popular eating plans floating around out there, followed by a “pros and cons” discussion.
First, “The Fiber 35 Diet.”
First released in 2007, this diet states that if you strictly adhere to the plan, you may lose 8 pounds the first month and one pound each subsequent week. During the first month, you reduce your daily caloric intake 1,000 calories below your normal daily average, but do not drop below 1,200 total calories a day. After the first month, you eat 500 calories less than your normal daily intake. The key is 35 grams of fiber daily. Daily dietary suggestions state 2-3 servings of lean protein, such as chicken or fish, and 6-8 servings of fruits, whole grains, and vegetables to attain 35 grams of fiber.
Pros: Most Americans average less than 15 g of fiber daily, even 25-30 g would be beneficial. The foods are generally healthy selections.
Cons: Not very specific on what a serving is. Is it the same for a 120 lb. inactive female and a 250 lb. active male? Essential fats are not well covered, and shakes and bars are offered at an additional cost. If you’ve been eating 15 g of fiber or less, and you increase to 35 g overnight, you will probably experience some gastric events that are less than pleasant and socially unacceptable. Of course, flatulence is always funny when it’s the other guy (unless he or she is in your car).
“The Abs Diet for Women”
This plan suggests you eat three medium sized meals at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, followed by a snack two hours after each meal. At each of these feedings, one is to choose from a list of 12 “power foods,” having at least one with each snack and two of these each meal. These 12 “power foods” are: almonds (and other nuts), beans and legumes, spinach and other greens, dairy, instant oatmeal, eggs, turkey and other lean meats, peanut butter, olive oil, whole grains, extra protein such as whey powder, and berries. The program advocates 3-4 twenty minute strength training sessions per week, with an emphasis on tightening your abs. The author promises 12 lbs. of belly fat will be lost in the first two weeks if you follow the plan!
Pros: Multiple recipes are provided, with quite a bit of variety. There should be adequate fiber, and one should never be hungry. The book emphasizes strength training as a key component, a refreshing departure from the erroneous advocating of aerobic exercise, such as walking, biking, or jogging, as the most efficient way to burn fat.
Cons: 12 lbs. of belly fat in two weeks is achievable maybe with liposuction, and that may even be a stretch. This type of claim causes a loss of credibility among nutritionists and sets the dieter up for a feeling of failure. Some of the power foods are redundant (oats & whole grains, legumes & peanut butter), but adequate fiber and nutritional needs in general are met.
“The Bonus Years Diet”
This interesting diet plan put forth by Dr. Felder, M.D. advocates seven specific foods that are high in flavonoids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants, and if eaten daily, purportedly will add on average 6.4 years to your life. These foods are: red wine (5 oz.), dark chocolate (2 oz.), raw fruits and veggies (4 cups), fish (three 5 oz. servings/week), a clove of garlic, and nuts (2oz.).
Pros: Wine and chocolate lovers will be happy with this plan. Fairly easy to implement, this plan kicks vampires’ asses.
Cons: Due to lack of restrictions, this may not be the best diet for fat loss. The repetitive nature of these essential foods may not lend itself to long term adherence.
“The Whole 30 Plan”
This is the diet I receive the most questions about, along with what exactly Mediterranean diet is (no one can answer this concisely). The “Whole 30” diet, which is 30 days in duration, is far and away the most restrictive diet I have encountered, equaling some pre-contest bodybuilding diets. The list of restricted foods is so lengthy, the allowed foods are what’s listed. They are: lean meat and fish, eggs, oils, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and certain fruit. Clarified butter, not regular butter, may be used. You are not allowed any form of sugar other than fruit, nor any form of artificial sweetener, including stevia. No dairy, no grains, no legumes, no alcohol, no caffeine, no tobacco products. You are allowed a small amount of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine. Just checking to see if you are paying attention on that last one, since, obviously, appetite suppressants would be cheating!?! This appears to be a very strict form of several other similar diets along the line of the “Caveman” diet and “Paleo” diet.
Pros: Everyone can benefit from less sugar, flour, preservatives and other food additives that are all too common today. The diet is very high in fiber and protein, in some cases more protein than is generally recommended, but delivers the essential nutrients needed for health for the most part. Because it is a relatively short duration plan, the possible low calcium intake is not a concern.
Cons: I could go join a monastery and be less restricted than the “Whole 30,” where even a single slip-up is not allowed. A “cheat meal” elicits a vicious caning followed by banishment, and then branding as a “Fatty McButter Pants.” I may have embellished that last little bit, but adherence is paramount. There is very little carbohydrate in the diet, not an issue if you are inactive, but could be problematic if you are eating low calorie and low carb while exercising intensely. This could lead to the glucose-alanine cycle, where either dietary protein, or muscle protein, or both, is utilized to meet glucose requirements. If you are burning your muscle tissue to meet energy needs, you will end up with a slower metabolism. If your caloric intake is adequate, this is less of a problem. This could be said of most very-low calorie diets.
There you have it, a few of those popular eating trends and programs that may endure for a while, or go the way of the “Tapeworm” diet. If you need help choosing a diet regimen, or with implementation of one you wish to try, consult with a nutritionist or dietician.