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Trendy Diets and Why They Fail

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A couple of weeks ago on Breakfast Television I featured a segment on trendy diet plans. I placed these diets into a "Choose It" or "Lose It" category. Since we're way past our New Year's resolutions, I thought this would be a good time to check in with you to discuss why certain fad diets fail and which diets will guarantee a better rate of success.

"Lose It Diets"

Intermittent Fasting -- The 5:2 Regime - Dr. Michael Mosley
• The theory is based on life extension which focuses on restricting calories and fasting. The body adjusts to calorie restrictions so you don't feel hungry
• Eat normally for five days a week, around 2,000 calories
• Diet two days per week and consume only 25 per cent of your normal calories, around 500 calories
• Lose 1 lb per week, but be sure not to overeat on the five days
• Studies show that there are improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity

Sample Meal Plan
Fasting: 500 calories
• Breakfast - one egg and ham slice
• Lunch - 2 oz chicken and 10 baby carrots
• Dinner - 2 oz salmon and 1/2 cup brown rice

Eat normally: 2,500 calories
• Breakfast - eggs/ whole wheat bagel / yogurt / fruit
• Snack - cheese and crackers
• Lunch - corned beef sandwich / potato chips / coke
• Snack - granola bar
• Dinner - steak / mashed potatoes / vegetables / cake
• Snack - popcorn

Pros
• Don't have to deprive yourself of any foods on those five days
• Fasting gives your digestive system a rest
• It may reduce the risk of developing chronic disease. Calorie restriction has proven to increase lifespan and lower the risk factors for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers

Cons
• It's an unbalanced diet with an all or nothing cycle of eating
• It can cause bingeing on the other five other days
• On the days you're fasting you can have mood swings
• Unsustainable over the long term
• You may feel irritable and fatigued on the two days of fasting

Paleo Diet - Dr. Loren Cordain
• Based upon eating wholesome foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate during the Paleolithic era
• Includes fresh meats (organic or free range), fish, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy oils (unrefined, such as coconut, olive, flaxseed and walnut) and eggs
• Cannot consume dairy, grains, legumes, potatoes, refined sugar, salt, refined oils (such as soy or corn oils), processed foods and salt

Pros:
• May prevent chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and autoimmune diseases
• No calorie counting
• High protein, low glycemic, which causes increased weight loss
• At the beginning you can cheat and eat what you want three times per week
• Keeps you away from processed foods and sugar
• No inflammatory foods

Cons:
• Not suitable for vegetarians or vegans
• No salt allowed which means it's impossible to eat out or eat anything from a can or box
• Eliminating the vitamins and minerals found in whole grains
• Dependant on meat which is not always lean
• Lacks calcium and vitamin D

Blood Type Diet - Dr D'Adamo (Naturopath)

• Dr. D'Adamo claims that the foods you eat react chemically with your blood type
• If you follow a diet according to your blood type you will digest food more efficiently, lose weight, prevent disease and feel less fatigued

Type O Blood:
• A high-protein diet heavy on lean meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables
• Light on grains, beans and dairy

Type A Blood
• A meat-free diet based on fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes and whole grains
• Ideally eat organic and fresh because D'Adamo says people with Type A blood have a sensitive immune system

Type B blood:
• Eat green vegetables, eggs, certain meats, and low-fat dairy
• Avoid corn, wheat, buckwheat, lentils, tomatoes, peanuts, and sesame seeds -- chicken is also problematic

Type AB blood
• Include tofu, seafood, dairy and green vegetables
• Avoid caffeine, alcohol and smoked or cured meats

Pros
• No real health hazards
• Encourages real, whole, natural foods rather than processed foods

Cons
• A calorie restricted diet
• Type O foods may increase heart disease
• Specific diet and exercise plan for each blood type
• Doesn't take into consideration food likes, dislikes or exercise preferences
• Not enough scientific research or studies to prove this diet works long term

"Choose It Diets"
Weight Watchers
When you see Jennifer Hudson and Jessica Simpson fitting into those "skinny" jeans you have to ask how they did it. Weight Watchers is one of the longest and most successful weight loss programs across the globe. There are no foods that are banned and it is considered a lifestyle not a diet. The basis is that every person has a certain number of points assigned to them daily. Stick with the points and you'll lose weight, however go over the points you'll gain weight!

Pros
• Eat from all the food groups
• No limit to fruits and vegetables
• The lowest points consist of beans, low fat meat, poultry, fish, seafood, egg whites and whole grains
• This is a lifestyle, not a diet
• Support groups, weigh ins and online applications

Cons
• The highest points comes from simple carbs, white flour products, higher fat dairy and fat in general
• Regular fast food or processed foods are high in points
• Weekly weigh ins are required
• No set diet which may be too liberal for some dieters

Mediterranean Diet - Heart Healthy Eating Plan
This diet is based on the abundance of foods found in the Mediterranean. The pyramid starts with the following in order of importance:

Daily
• Exercise
• Whole grains (bread, pasta, rice), fruits, beans, nuts, vegetables, olive oil, cheese and yogurt

Weekly
• Fish, poultry, eggs, sweets, wine

Monthly
• Meats

Pros
• Promotes health and prevents disease
• Less heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, lower blood pressure and cholesterol
• Reduced incidences of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's
• Fresh foods
• Exercise
• Not low carb - whole grains and breads are encouraged

Cons
• Meat is only allowed once a month
• Geared toward vegetarian eating
• Cooking fresh takes time
• May be more expensive
• Not designed specifically for weight loss
• Can promote weight gain because of the emphasis on daily oils and nuts

Glycemic Index Diet - Dr. Rick Gallop
Developed by Dr. Rick Gallop from Toronto, the Glycemic Index measures the speed at which foods break down in the body to form glucose, which is the body's source of energy. The high glycemic foods break down quickly and leave you hungry and weak, whereas the low glycemic foods break down slowly leaving you satisfied.

There is an easy way to differentiate these foods as they can be placed on a scale from one to 100. The high glycemic foods, which should be limited, fall on the higher end of the scale.

Red - Avoid (70 or more)
• White bread, Rice Krispies, white rice, rice cakes, white potatoes, baked goods, dried fruit, bananas, sugar, beverages, pastries

Yellow - Occasionally (between 56 - 69)
• Oatmeal, brown rice, grapes, watermelon, pineapple, mango, carrots, corn, orange juice, popcorn

Green - As much as you like (55 - less)
• 100% whole grains, All Bran, sweet potato, beans, Greek yogurt, berries, apples, lettuce, tomatoes

Pros
• All the food is clearly identified in the traffic light colors
• You won't be hungry
• Lifestyle diet
• Will help to prevent heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, obesity and many cancers

Cons
• No processed or popular fast foods
• Lacks variety
• Not all low glycemic foods are healthy such as chocolate or ice cream
• Doesn't address complete meals

Final Word
Trendy "DIETS" all work... in the short term. It's always easy to lose weight if you cut calories and specific food groups. However, it's never healthy to eliminate any of the healthy food groups such as complex grains, fruits and vegetables and lean protein. Sure you'll lose the pounds, but you cannot live without these necessary food groups. Within a short time you will resent the deprivation and begin overeating or bingeing.

The truth is you have to change your daily lifestyle with respect to food. Not an easy task but definitely doable. In order to win the "war," you have to win the daily "battles!"

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