For as long as I can remember my Mother has been trying to lose weight, by trying different diets, but continues to struggle today. Back in the early 1970s I got my first glimpse of the horrors of dieting when my mother decided to go on a diet. She started taking an appetite-suppressant candy that had been around since 1937, but was extremely popular from 1970 to 1980. Originally manufactured by the Carley Company, it came in a number of flavors like chocolate, chocolate mint, butterscotch, caramel and peanut butter. Who wouldn’t love losing weight while eating candy right? It was called Ayds (pronounced as “aids” which is not to be confused with AIDS.) In early in 1986, an executive of the manufacturer was quoted saying, “The product has been around for 45 years, let the disease change its name.” Needless to say, it was withdrawn from the market in 1993, and Surprise, Surprise, it did not help my Mother.
While there are many diets, most have slight variations, and all claim that they are the only or last diet you will ever need. The question that I find myself asking over and over again is; “What makes one diet better than another diet?” Note: The information I am providing is not a recommendation, simply a way for me to break down what I’ve learned. There are thousands of diets, I’ve highlighted a few below and shocker..my core information came from Wikipedia, and a few other linked sources.
Hold on to your belly fat….here we go…
Fad Diets: There isn’t a real definition of what a fad diet really is, but there are diets that are popular for a period of time, and tend to make their way back around again and again with a new name or new packaging. Most promising short-term changes with little or no effort and preying on the lack of education of the consumer base as a whole. Claims like a diet being not only a cure for obesity, but also a cure for epilepsy. Do you remember the Subway diet in which a person consumes Subway sandwiches made famous by Jared Fogle who lost 245 pounds after replacing his meals with Subway sandwiches. My favorite, and the one that gave me nightmares, literally, was the Cabbage Soup diet. I tried this while in the military because I was considered over weight, because of my height compared to my muscle mass, and needed to be on a diet to get back in the “normal” weight range for someone my height. Sold as a radical weight loss diet, proven by doctors and tested on overweight patients prior to having heart surgery. The promise was fast weight loss up to 10 pounds a week, and the soup tasted great. Later it was rebranded and had many names such as “Sacred Heart Diet“, “Military Cabbage Soup“, “TJ’s Miracle Soup Diet“, and “Russian Peasant Diet“. I can recall doing this diet for a couple of days, and waking up and devouring several bags of chocolate candies. My girlfriend at the time woke up to see me hunched over like Gollum from Lord of the Rings with his “precious”. Apparently I had a dream about eating gristle and fat, no meat, just the fat and my body was telling this just isn’t sustainable. Not only could I not control my eating, but it pushed me to eating more, and gaining more weight. This was just one of the failed “diet” attempts that I’ve tried over the years.
- Belief-Based Diet: A diet choice influenced by religious, spiritual or philosophical beliefs:
- Islamic dietary laws consist solely of food that is halal (permissible in Islam). While the opposite of Halal is something called Haraam, and is food that is Islamically impermissible including alcohol, pork and any meat in which the animal was not killed through the Islamic method of ritual slaughter.
- I-tal is a set of principles influencing the diets of the Rastafari movement, in which only natural foods should be consumed.
- Seventh-day Adventist‘s combine the Kosher rules of Judaism with prohibitions against alcohol and caffeinated beverages while focusing on whole foods.
- Word of Wisdom based on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints‘ advises consumption of wholesome plants in season; eating meat sparingly and only in times of winter, cold or famine; and eating grains such as the “staff of life”.
- Remba/Lemba diet is found in Southern Africa and includes meat that is slaughtered in a specific way that maximizes the way the blood is to be drained from the animal. Pork is excluded from this diet, which also includes carbohydrates and pays particular attention to cleanliness when handing and preparing food.
Low-Calorie Diets: Also known as caloric restriction which reduces food intake without incurring malnutrition. By restricting the amount of calories from food and beverages weight loss would follow. This is typically recommended by US Dietary guidelines and scientific studies for weight control. For people like me who are overweight or obese, long-term health improvements may result from the restriction of calories; however, gradual weight regain usually occurs, and additional weight is usually gained as well.
- Diets that fall into this category include: 5:2 diet, Intermittent fasting, Body for Life, Cookie diet, The Hacker’s Diet, Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers.
- Very low calorie versions of this diet include Inedia (breatharian diet): A diet in which no food is consumed, based on the belief that food is not necessary for human subsistence.
- Or KE diet: Also known as the Feeding Tube diet where an individual eats through a feeding tube but consumes nothing else.
- People losing weight through calorie restriction run the risk of developing side effects , such as cold sensitivity, menstrual irregularities, infertility, or hormonal changes.
Very-low-calorie diet (VLCD): Also known as the crash diet, or semi-starvation diet, is a type of diet with extremely low daily food consumption. Carbohydrates may be entirely absent, or substituted for a portion of the protein; this choice has important metabolic effects.
- Medically supervised VLCDs use total meal replacement, and have very specific applications for rapid weight loss, for people with morbid obesity or in prep prior to bariatric surgery, using formulated, nutritionally complete liquid meals containing 800 calories or less per day for a maximum of 12 weeks.
- The earliest data on VLCD came after World War II when several scientific experiments were conducted to examine what conditions would lead to starvation and how to rehabilitate safely to eating. This was an effort to reduce the casualties caused by famine following the war.
- In 1978 58 people died in the United States after following very-low-calorie liquid protein diets. Following this event, the FDA require that protein VLCDs providing fewer than 400 calories a day a warning label that they can cause serious illness and need to be followed under medical supervision. However, newer regulations require this warning only on protein products that aim to provide more than half of a person’s calories and were promoted for weight loss or as a food supplement. That way, protein VLCD drinks such as Slim-Fast, although each providing less than 400 calories, were able to avoid warnings by recommending that users “also eat one sensible meal each day”.
Low-Carbohydrate Diets: In 1797 John Rollo reported results after treating two diabetic Army officers with a low-carbohydrate diet and medications. This became the standard treatment for diabetes throughout the nineteenth century. A low-carbohydrate diet has been found to reduce endurance and deplete muscle glycogen. It also tends to raise levels of LDL cholesterol, and it is unclear how this effects cardiovascular health.
- This diet also falls under the low-calories diet circle, but limited consumption of specific items such as: sugar, bread, pasta and potatoes and replaced them with foods higher in fat and protein such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts and seeds.
- There are a number of variations of this type of diets like Atkins, Dukan, Kimkins, South Beach, Drinking Man’s Diet, and Stillman.
Low-Fat Diets: Place restrictions on fat intake, with the intention to reduce the occurrence of conditions such as heart disease and obesity.
- It has been recommended by the Institute of Medicine to limit fat intake to 35% of your total caloric intake and to control saturated fat intake. Because all fats contain some saturated fatty acids, high-fat diet is “unacceptably high” when compared to a low fat diet, even when saturated fats from animal products and tropical oils are avoided.
- The “McDougall’s starch diet” is a high calorie, high fiber, low fat diet based on starches such as potato, rice, and beans that excludes all animal foods and added vegetable oils. In 2002 John A. McDougall began the McDougall Program which is a 10-day treatment program that features a low-fat, starch-based diet.
Detoxification Diets: Detox or body cleansing is an alternative-medicine treatment which claims to rid the body of unspecified “toxins”.
- Some of the ways to detox your body include: fasting, avoiding certain foods, colon cleansing, and detoxification.
- Suspicions of the ineffectiveness of purging became widespread by the 1830s.
Medically Supervised Diets: There are times when dietary choices are affected by food intolerance or allergies. There may be a need to change one’s diet patterns to overcome these or they might be recommended, prescribed or administered by medical professionals for people with specific medical needs. There are a large number of diets that fall into the category.
- The DASH diet may be recommended for those with high blood pressure by consuming large quantities of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain, low fat dairy, avoiding sugar sweetened foods, red meat and fat.
- The Diabetic diet, is an umbrella term for meal plans given to diabetics, and is still a highly contested way of eating that doctors continue to refine.
- An Elimination diet removes foods from your body that you suspect are causing negative reactions to occur. The plan then slowly reintroduces foods ruling out any that may have caused an adverse reaction.
- Gluten-free diets avoid gluten which can be found in barley, rye and wheat.
Vegetarian Diets: Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat (red, poultry, seafood and the flesh of any other animal). With a premise for tolerance toward all living beings, and for some a belief in medical or ritual purification purposes.
- Fruitarian diet is predominantly consisting of raw fruit.
- Ovo-vegetarianism allows dairy and eggs to be consumed.
- Vegan diet excludes any product produced by animals such as eggs, milk or honey.
- Lacto-vegetarianism allows certain types of dairy but not eggs or contains animal rennet.
- Semi-vegetarians allow meat to be consumed occasionally consumed.
- Kangatarian originated in Australia which is based on vegetarian diet; however, they also allow kangaroo meat to be consumed.
- Pescatarian diet allows fish but no other meat.
- Pollotarian allows one to eat poultry and no mammals typically for environmental, health or food justice reasons.
- Whole-Plant Base diet has rules that minimizes the consumption all meat, dairy, eggs, flours, and oils from the diet.
There are hundreds of other diets that fall into one or more categories:
- The Hay diet recommends that proteins and carbohydrates should not be consumed in the same meal.
- The Alkaline diet avoided acidic foods and only allows foods with low pH levels.
- The Eat-clean diet focused on eating foods without any preservatives
- The Climatarian diet focused on reducing the carbon footprint by consuming foods that are locally sourced and eliminating beef and lamb.
- The Graham diet was a vegetarian diet that promoted whole-wheat flour and discouraged the consumption of stimulants like alcohol and caffeine.
- The Prison loaf diet is a meal replacement served in some United States prisons to inmates who are not trusted to use cutlery.
- Raw foodism is a diet that zeros in on the consumption of uncooked and unprocessed foods.
Ketogenic Diet: I wanted to expand on this diet since it is so popular now. I’m sure people will argue, but it’s also known as as a fad diet. The Ketogenic or “Keto” diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet used to treat hard-to-control epilepsy in children forcing the body to burn fat rather than carbohydrates. Originally this therapeutic diet provided just enough protein for the body to grow, while repairing the body. Developed in the 1920s Keto contained a 4:1 ratio of the weight of fat to combined proteins and carbohydrates. Achieving results by excluding high-carbohydrate foods such as fruits, vegetables, breads, pasta, grains and sugar while increasing your consumption of high fat foods like nuts, cream and butter. The diet came to light in 1994, when Jim Abrahams, a Hollywood producer, who’s son had severe epilepsy, was able to control the condition with his diet. Dateline later aired a story directed by Jim Abrahams, “…First Do No Harm” in 1997 based on his own experience with his son. It is important to note that this is not a balanced diet since it contains a tiny portions of fruit and vegetables as well as vitamins and minerals required by the body, requiring individuals to obtain these artificially. There are many celebrities who have turned to this diet: Gwyneth Paltrow, Halle Berry, Katie Couric, Lebron James, Kim & Kourtney Kardashian, Megan Fox, and Tim Tebow.
Whole-Food, Plant-Based diet (WFPB): Simply defines as a whole-foods plant-based diet eating minimally processed fruit, vegetables, beans & legumes, whole grains, herbs, spices, and mushrooms.
- This excludes animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs in addition to highly processed foods like refined grains, added salt, added sugar, and oils. Oils are the most refined food product and is discouraged as much as possible, although some versions allow healthy fats like olive oil.
- Occasionally the diet will allow unsweetened plant-based milks like: soy, almond, cashew, oat and rice milk. Maple syrup, date paste and molasses may also be used sparingly along with nuts, seeds and avocados.
- One of the biggest worries when not consuming meat is that there isn’t enough protein; however, this diet is filled with foods that are high in proteins.
- Take a look at a powerful show on Netflix that will open your eyes to this lifestyle called “The Game Changers“. You might be interested to know that there are a number of celebrities who have turned to a vegetarian diet. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kevin Smith, Bill Clinton, Woody Harrelson, Evanna Lynch, Steve-O, Penn Jillette, Will.I.Am, Simon Cowell, Miley Cyrus, Lewis Hamilton, Peter Dinklage, Russell Simmons and Steve Harvey to name a few.
Drum Roll Please……
The winner of worst diets (I think) is the Tongue Patch Diet: it involved surgically placing a patch on the top of the tongue making it painful to eat and causing the dieter to avoid eating solid foods. Created in 2009 by a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, it was reported that a number of patients had swollen tongues or difficulty speaking for the first 72 hours after the procedure. Not to mention those that ended up with infections and for some, nerve damage. Patients claimed the patch dislodged and was swallowed causing an airway obstruction.
Hopefully this was a worthy article filled with knowledge, shock, awe, and a better understanding of what my blog is all about. If you made it this far, leave me a comment what you thought of it and what else you would like to see. Week 4 is about to start, and that means I should have a YouTube video up shortly to tell you about my week.