It’s difficult to watch TV or flip through a magazine without being bombarded by a diet product. It’s usually a magic program advertised by a pretty woman who likely maintains her figure using a combination of genetics and team of dieticians rather than the diet craze she is being paid to sell. There are many types of diets out there; from the good, the bad, to the just plain ugly. So, what it really comes down to is reliability. Which diets are effective? What does each diet entail? There are numerous diets out there, but here, we’re going to break down three of the most common ones.
The famous Atkins diet was created by Dr. Robert Atkins, a cardiologist who wished to lose weight himself following a restricted diet. The low-carb, high protein diet follows four phases, each categorized based on the amount of carbohydrates allowed for consumption. In the first phase, participants may consume up to 20 grams of carbs daily and as much protein and fats for about two weeks resulting in weight loss of about 15 pounds. Once the participant is satisfied with their initial weight loss, they move onto the succeeding phases. Each phase allows the addition of more carbohydrates and fruits with an average weight loss of 2 to 3 pounds per week. According to the British Dietetic Association (BDA), the Atkins diet does facilitate rapid weight loss mainly by cutting out processed carbohydrates. However the Atkins diet forces the body to rely on its secondary mechanism for energy metabolism which is fat. By cutting out carbs, many people experience tiredness, dizziness, and nausea while the high fat and protein intake may increase the risk of heart disease, kidney and bone disease and cause constipation. Overall the Atkins diet is a good fit for those who wish to lose weight fast and have the willpower to maintain their new lifestyle.
We all know Weight Watchers thanks to the numerous commercials on television. Weight Watchers uses its own point system, ProPoints, to replace the traditional calorie counting associated with dieting. ProPoints are assigned to foods and drinks based on their protein, fat, carbohydrate and fibre content. The points act as an allowance, for the participant to use as they wish. Weight Watchers’ unique feature is their meeting and support team that motivate, encourage and celebrate weight loss as a community. Most participants under the program report losing 2 pounds a week on average. According to the BDA, Weight Watchers supports having a balanced but controlled diet. However many users find the point system difficult to use in a way that supports their weight loss goals and often feel pressured to purchase the Weight Watchers Brand of foods. Overall, the diet seems to deliver on their community weight loss claims without extremely depriving their participants of nutritional content.
The Paleo diet is interesting because it is inspired by the supposed diets of our ancestors. The diet suggests only eating foods that would have been hunted or gathered by those of the Paleolithic era Before the rise of agriculture, our ancestors ate meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, fruits and vegetables. The foods not to be consumed are dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, salt and anything that is processed. According to the BDA, the Paleo diet does cause weight loss due to the elimination of carbohydrates. However due to the overall removal of carbs, dairy and increase in meats and fats participants can feel tired and suffer from malnutrition. Overall the Paleo diet is not balanced and is likely unsustainable.
The British Dietetic Association mentions that a good, healthy diet is one that is balanced and varied. The flaw in each of the diets mentioned is that they require the unreasonable reduction or total removal of a group of foods, usually carbohydrates. However, carbohydrates are needed as a source of energy. By eliminating or diminishing food intake, the body becomes deprived of its essential vitamins and minerals. The only way to get all of the nutritional benefits the body needs and still lose weight and be healthy is through balanced eating and ample exercise.
by Shatabdy Zahid
Please note that opinions expressed are the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and values of The Blank Page.