Skinny on Diets
Last week we looked at FAD diets like Atkins and Lemon Detox and established that these quick fix diets don’t sustain weight loss in the long term.
We also established that carbohydrates alone do not cause weight gain- weight gain is the result of consuming more energy than you expend!
Here are a few more reviews of fad diets as well as a look at two popular, less extreme diets: Weight Watchers and the Low GI diet. Do they really work?
Eat Right for your Blood Type
Theory: Food choices are made based on a person’s blood type with the theory being that people respond to foods differently. People with type O blood should avoid carbohydrates; Type A should eat mostly vegetarian foods; Type B are a mix of type O and A diets.
Verdict: The strict eating plan is likely to reduce your calorie intake, so you might lose some weight.
However there is no scientific basis whatsoever for the diet’s theory. Excluding large food groups may also increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies.
Miracle foods weight loss
There are claims that certain foods such as green tea and coffee make your body more efficient in burning fat.
The reality is that there are no foods that can turn you into a fat burning machine simply by eating them.
Even caffeine, whilst it might increase your metabolism isn’t going to be the long lost miracle that you’re looking for.
The Low GI diet:
Theory: The glycemic index is a ranking of a food’s ability to raise blood-glucose levels. Foods with a low GI are broken down slower and so release glucose more gradually into the bloodstream.
The theory is that the gradual release keeps you fuller for longer so you do not need to eat as much.
Low GI foods include vegetables, high-fibre grains, milk and legumes.
Verdict: A low GI diet is good because it uses a lot of healthful principles, such as eating lots of vegetables, whole-grains and high fibre.
However in terms of weight loss, research is mixed with no evidence for a superior weight loss advantage.
For example, a 2002 Danish study evaluated 20 studies comparing low GI diet and a high GI diets. They found that a superior weight loss was seen in participants following the low-GI diet in only 4 studies.
Also note that some low and medium GI foods are high in fat and calories such as a Mars Bar.
You can eat all the low GI foods you want but if you consume more energy than you expend, you won’t lose weight.
Theory: The program is based on reducing the number of calories you eat each day. But rather than count calories, you use weight watchers points.
Verdict: For people who want to lose weight without the hassle of weighing food or learning about good nutrition, the weight watchers points system is reasonably effective.
Just like any restricted-calorie diet, the weight watchers points system will help you lose weight if you adhere to it. However, like many other popular diets, the chances are that you won’t be able to maintain it for long.
A 2005 study that compared the Atkins, Zone, Ornish diet and Weight Watchers found that not only did people have trouble sticking to the diets but that there was no significant difference in weight loss between the groups.
On average, weight loss was less than 8kg for all groups- not hugely impressive.
If diets don’t then what?
Just as there is no one diet that will work for everyone, there are no firm rules for losing weight, says nutrition expert Dr Tim Crowe from Deakin University.
Successful weight management includes realistic lifestyle changes.
He says that one effective strategy is reducing the overall fat content of the diet without making any major changes to the quantity of other foods.
This way of eating can create a small, but significant, energy deficit that can lead to weight loss of 2 to 6 kg after one year.
Habits of Successful ‘Weight Losers’:
People who lose substantial amounts of weight and keep it off for over a year do so by:
- Eating a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet which is high in fibre.
- Being physically active, exercising at least 30 minutes a day.
- Eating breakfast everyday.
- Weighing themselves regularly.
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