Six Current Fad Diets: Just the Facts, Ma’am
In my lifetime, many fad diets have come and gone, some of these resurfacing every few years (how many resurrections of Atkins have we seen?). Who remembers the Stillman Water Diet? Dr. Stillman’s eating plan was one of the first universally popular commercial diets. The following is a brief review of the Stillman Diet and its modern incarnation, and five current fad diets.
Dr. Stillman, M.D. invented this diet in 1967, one of the first to advocate a low carb, low fat, high protein diet spread over 6 small meals instead of the traditional 3 meals. Additionally, 8 glasses of water were to be consumed. Lean animal proteins and dairy along with veggies comprised the food list. Unless one consumed large amounts of fish, the diet was deficient in essential fats. Under her doctor’s guidance, singer Karen Carpenter, at 5’4” and 145 pounds, began rigorously following this diet in the late 1960’s. By 1975 her weight had fallen to 91 lbs. She passed away in 1983 due to complications resulting from anorexia nervosa. Notably, Dr. Stillman did not put anyone else?? but obese patients on his diet.
Today, a “new” Water Diet has appeared, and it’s far more extreme.
Claim to Fame: You will lose 10 pounds in 5 days while detoxifying.
Just the Facts Ma’am:
Day 1 – Apples (as many as you want), apple juice, and eight glasses ice-water….that’s it.
Day 2 – Same as Day 1 plus raw veggies, preferably carrots, plus two additional glasses of water.
Day 3 – Unlimited fruits and veggies (Yay!!?) and water.
Day 4 – Milk and bananas, no other fruits or veggies… and of course water.
Day 5 – Today you eat at least 6 tomatoes plus water. If you feel tired, you may consume 10 oz. lean beef.
Day 6 – By now the diet states you should have lost 10 pounds (I sure would have because I probably would have gnawed an arm off!). If not, you’re still “healthier” due to the toxin cleanse.
Final word: This is a starvation diet (clinical starvation is anything below 800 calories). You will lose approximately 8 lbs of water, one pound of fat, and one pound of lean muscle mass, or thereabouts. At least it is short term. In reality, another extreme low-cal diet with odd food choices.
Note: Your liver and kidneys are your natural detoxifiers. I have yet to learn what toxins we have that these organs can’t handle if they are healthy. If they are not healthy, you have medical issues that should be addressed by your health care provider.
Claim to Fame: Trouble losing weight? Tired all the time? Digestive issues (diarrhea or constipation)? You must have gluten intolerance. Every aspect of your life will improve if you will just stop eating that gluten!
Just the Facts Ma’am: A true gluten intolerance affects 1 out of 133 people, or well under 1% of the population. This is known as Celiac disease and can only be diagnosed by a health professional, virtually always during infancy or childhood. You will be shocked to find out how many foods contain gluten, or are processed where gluten foods are processed, thus inadvertently contain gluten.
Final word: One of the most restrictive, limiting, and thus difficult diets to follow, usually being implemented for false reasons. We could probably all stand to eat less processed flour products, but this is extreme.
Claim to Fame: Learn why Europeans are skinnier than us fat Americans! A French doctor, Dukan, began advocating this diet in the 1970’s. Rumors are that Kate Middleton used this diet to get ready for the Royal wedding.
Just the Facts Ma’am: This is a lower fat version of Atkins, allocating you lean proteins and veggies in small amounts. Of course you will lose weight if all you’re eating is grilled fish and asparagus, largely unsustainable for us non-OCD sufferers.
Final word: Another starvation diet, or close to it. Any diet that promises rapid weight loss is likely unhealthy and long term, undesirable. You will lose a substantial amount of lean muscle mass, resulting in a slowing of your metabolism!
Claim to Fame: This diet espouses the theory that certain foods lead us out of pH balance toward acidity, particularly meats and dairy. This can lead to various unhealthy states, including being overweight.
Just the Facts Ma’am: Your blood pH is quickly corrected by internal mechanisms, staying between 7.35-7.45. If your kidneys are healthy this balance is constant, and your diet will have virtually no effect or influence. Your urine, confined to your bladder, will reflect pH changes, but has no contact with your blood; thus, altering your diet has zero effect on blood pH.
Final Word: The Alkaline diet has no supporting research or evidence from reputable scientific research or clinicians, being little more than a vegan diet with a different name.
Claim to Fame: The reason women lose their weight after pregnancy is hCG in their blood leads to fat burning, but it will only work if you eat 500 calories a day, certain foods, and take “natural” hCG supplements the promoters supply.
Just the Facts Ma’am: Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is produced in the fertilized egg of pregnant females. It is used clinically to induce ovulation of the ovaries and testosterone production in the testes. Theoretically, a higher testosterone level would potentially result in lean muscle mass gains, but no research shows elevations above what is normal from the introduction of hCG. As of 2011, hCG supplements were banned by the FDA and FTC because of safety concerns and bogus claims of efficacy.
Final Word: This is a true starvation diet, potentially dangerous if followed for any length of time.
Tapeworm Diet (Not Kidding!)
Claim to Fame: Go to Mexico, pay a lot of money to ingest a parasite that will eat your food for you. You will be outrageously thin!
Just the Facts Ma’am: This diet absolutely works. Tapeworms attach themselves to the lining of your stomach and small intestine, and suck calories right out of your blood. The negative side to this is you have ingested a potentially lethal parasite that continues to grow if untreated. Tapeworms measuring 50 feet long have been retrieved from humans.
Final Word: 50 feet long!
Fad diets will come and go. The bottom line is you are going have to get off your butt, and quit sticking stuff in your mouth! Sorry, but that’s just the facts, ma’am.