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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Weight Control


Stick to the facts when it comes to dieting

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist in Barton County, University of Missouri Extension


There seems to be almost as many types of fad diets as there are dieters. Believe it or not, the American Dietetic Association can date fad diets back as far as 1820 when people went on the Vinegar and Water Diet to lose weight. Since that time, there have been countless types of fad diets with many variations. With many of these diets, types of food and sometimes entire food groups are eliminated. Before you start a program to take pounds off quickly, know the facts about fad diets.


The first fact about fad diets is that they don’t work for permanent weight loss. Eliminating foods or entire food groups from your diet usually only works for a limited amount of time. When you lose weight quickly you lose a lot of water and this is easily gained back. This is especially true for detox diets which often allow only drinks during the diet process. Detox diets can be dangerous. Intestinal problems and heart rhythm abnormalities can result.


The second fact about fad diets is that high protein, low carbohydrate options are not the healthiest way to lose weight. We know that people can lose weight on this plan but we do not know the long-term effects of consuming a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. Fruits and vegetables are limited with this plan which means vitamin and mineral intake is decreased. When a person consumes a high amount of protein, they are consuming a large amount of fat and cholesterol, which is not good for heart health.


In addition, much of the information that people learn about carbohydrates is not necessarily true. Many people believe that starches are fattening. Bread, rice, pasta and starchy vegetables, such as peas and potatoes, are not excessively high in calories. The thing that actually gets many of us in trouble with starchy foods is what we like to eat with them. This includes adding butter and sour cream to the baked potato or a creamy Alfredo sauce to the pasta. Starches are complex carbohydrates, which are our body’s preferred source of energy. Complex carbohydrates, especially whole grains, can be an important source for a variety of nutrients.


The last fact is that there is no food you can eat that will burn fat. There are some fad diets that promote the use of a certain food, such as grapefruit or cabbage, because it will help burn fat. Only in your dreams! There is no food that burns fat. There are things you can consume, such as caffeine, that may slightly increase metabolism for a short period of time but not enough to promote any significant weight loss.


Food is meant to provide nourishment to our bodies. When entire food groups are eliminated, valuable nutrients are eliminated which can be detrimental to health. The healthiest diet is one that includes a wide variety of foods from each of the food groups while limiting fat.



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Last update: Wednesday, March 03, 2010