Saturday, February 12, 2011

Do Celebrity Fad Diets Work?

Good Morning America Saturday aired a segment today where they looked at Celebrity Fad Diets.  Chief Medical Editor Richard Besser led the discussion along with a group of professional Nutritionists.  Read the transcript.

As expected, most of the diets were pretty bizarre and while all of them had the potential to deliver a reduction in pounds, that didn't mean they were healthy or realistic.  The ones they looked at were: The Raw Food Diet, The Blood Type Diet, The Macrobiotic Diet, and The Master Cleanse.

The Raw Food Diet like it says is all about eating raw food, mostly fruits and vegetables, which in one respect is healthy, but ultimately doesn't include all of the right ingredients that your body needs and can be very difficult to sustain as raw food is not universally available, making the program impractical for most people.  It got a negative rating by the panel.

The Blood Diet is all about eating certain foods based on your blood type.  First of all, the group pointed out that there is no scientific data to support the concept.  Secondly, it again turns into a difficult program to adopt and sustain.  The vote - thumbs down.

The Macrobiotic Diet is predominantly a vegetarian affair, but with an emphasis on local whole foods.  It also excludes meat and dairy products.  In addition, it stresses good habits like EATING SLOW and chewing your food completely.  The panel gave this one a thumbs up, provided the user did a lot of careful planning.

The Master Cleanse was the most bizarre one of all.  Its core concept is to flush your system rather than to provide healthy food choices.  One of the panelists said it reminded her of the prep for a colonoscopy.  Bottom line, it is designed for a quick drop in pounds, but there is nothing remotely healthy about it and it certainly can't be sustained for very long.  A resounding thumbs down on this one.

A couple of key points that the panelists made (and that I preach all the time) is that each of the various programs accomplished the same thing - they reduced the calorie intake, which in turn is the basis for weight loss.  Thus they aren't disputing the potential for dropping pounds, rather they are rating them based on the overall nutritional benefit, the ease-of-use and the sustainability.

I say it constantly - successful weight loss strategy begins with a lifestyle change that you can sustain for the rest of your life.  Short term fad diets are the ticket for short term weight loss and that's about it.  Who cares what a celebrity says or does - the only thing that matters is what you can do on your own.

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