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Features on StarChefs Food Debate: To Diet or Not to Diet? Food Debate: To Diet or Not to Diet? Food Debate: To Diet or Not to Diet? Food Debate: To Diet or Not to Diet?
Food Debate: To Diet or Not to Diet? Food Debate: To Diet or Not to Diet? Food Debate: To Diet or Not to Diet? Food Debate: To Diet or Not to Diet? Food Debate: To Diet or Not to Diet?
Food Debate: To Diet or Not to Diet? Food Debate: To Diet or Not to Diet?

The Issue: When food is your life, you’re prone to gaining weight, but should you go on a diet? If so, which diet is right for you?

The Summary:
Studies have shown that in time, most people who diet in order to lose weight wind up gaining back all of the weight and more.

However, the known health risks associated with obesity are numerous, including diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.

Here’s a brief overview of four popular diets: The Zone, The South Beach Diet, Weight Watchers, and the Fat Flush Plan.


» Popular Diets At a Glance


Discuss This Issue:

» go to our messageboard


References:

1 Enter the Zone
(ReganBooks, 1995)
www.zoneperfect.com
www.zonecuisine.com

2 The Fat Flush Plan
(McGraw-Hill, 2002)
fatflushdiet.com

3 The South Beach Diet
(Rodale, Inc. 2003)
www.southbeachdiet.com

4 Weight Watchers
www.weightwatchers.com


Other Helpful Resources:

American Dietetic Association
www.eatright.org

American Obesity Association
www.obesity.org

Food and Nutrition Information Center
www.nal.usda.gov/fnic

Food Safety Information
www.foodsafety.gov

Nutrition.gov
www.nutrition.gov

Shape Up America
www.shapeup.org

Weight-Control Information Network
www.niddk.nih.gov/health/
nutrit/win.htm


 


Archive
Food Debate: To Diet or Not to Diet?

To Diet or Not to Diet?
Which Diet, If Any, Is Right for a Serious Foodie?
by Amy Tarr

Whether you work in the culinary arts industry or just consider yourself a serious foodie, your obsession with food goes hand in hand with dieting. It’s a yin-yang sort of relationship. Five nights a week you’re treating your guests or your family to sumptuous multi-course meals. Desperate to find a pair of pants that button with ease, you spend the next two days subsisting on carrots and celery sticks with a carefully measured ration of fat-free dressing. You know you’ve got to keep your weight under control, but do you really need to be on a diet? After all, food is your passion. How can you bear to sacrifice the full flavors and textures of the food you eat when you serve the rich and satisfying stuff to everyone else?

Why should you bother dieting? Studies have shown that in time, most people who diet in order to lose weight wind up gaining back all of the weight and more. These people are susceptible to weight cycling, i.e. a pattern of loss and regain of body weight [1]. A weight cycle can range from small weight losses and gains (5-10 lbs. per cycle) to large changes in weight (50 lbs. or more per cycle). Some experts believe that weight cycling may be harmful to your health and that it is better to stay at one weight, even for those who are obese.

So you’ve decided you should skip dieting altogether and move on to the cheese course, right? Not so fast. Despite experts’ opinions on the topic, there is currently no convincing evidence to support the claims that weight cycling is harmful to your long-term health. And the known health risks associated with obesity are numerous, including diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Maybe it’s time to give dieting more than a passing consideration.

Figuring out which diet to follow can be harder than actually shedding the pounds. The Zone Diet, The South Beach Diet, Weight Watchers, and the Fat Flush Plan are all diets that have gained massive popularity and attention in the U.S. Which, if any, is right for you, i.e., someone who lives to eat? Here’s a bit of background on them:

The Zone Diet was created by Barry Sears, Ph. D., a biotechnologist who developed drug delivery systems for patients with cancer and heart disease. The Zone is defined as a metabolic state of optimal health when the mind and body function at peak efficiency. Reaching this state requires a balanced food intake such that every snack and meal has the proper ratio of protein (30%), carbohydrates (40%) and fat (30%). Dr. Sears claims that eating “in the Zone” leads to automatic body fat loss, not just weight loss.

The South Beach Diet, founded by Miami-based cardiologist, Arthur Agatston, M.D., is a program that limits your intake of “bad” carbohydrates and “bad” fats. It includes an initial two-week restrictive phase that jumpstarts the weight loss process by avoiding foods with high glycemic indexes, i.e., foods that spike your blood-sugar level, like baked goods, pasta, starchy vegetables, and alcohol. Dr. Agatston claims that you can lose 8 to 13 pounds during the first two weeks. He also claims that you lose belly fat first because you are better regulating your insulin production, which is responsible for storage of fat around your midsection.

Weight Watchers, founded by Jean Nidetch in the early 1960s, offers a portion control program in which all foods (in specific amounts) are assigned points values and, depending on your weight, you are allowed a certain number of points per day. Weight Watchers asserts that a healthy rate of weight loss is up to 2 pounds per week, and that the more gradual the weight loss, the more likely you are to rid yourself of extra pounds for good.

Fat Flush Plan, created by Ann Louise Gittleman, M.S., C.N.S., is a diet that detoxifies the liver and increases the metabolism through a combination of healthy fats, proteins and quality carbohydrates combined in a strict daily routine. The regimen, which has an initial two-week restrictive period, includes, among other things, high-lignan flaxseed oil, unsweetened cranberry juice with water, and herbal supplements like evening primrose oil, dandelion root and milk thistle. Gittleman won’t say how many pounds you can expect to lose during the first phase, stressing fat loss over weight loss, but she does imply that dropping at least 5 pounds is common.

Compare Popular Diets »

These four major weight-loss programs (and most diets in general) yield some results because they force you to limit your food intake¸ and therefore your calorie consumption. Keep in mind that in order to lose one pound of fat you have to burn 3,500 more calories than you consume. So no matter which diet you follow, whether you live on tofu or tiramisu, in the end, your weight loss will be determined by the total calories you consume versus the calories you burn.

Does the term “burning calories” make you break out into a cold sweat? You should be sweating if you’re serious about losing weight. Let’s face it. The rolls of fat bulging out of your apron will not miraculously disappear from your waist when you lose weight. You’ve got to build muscle tone if you want killer abs. Whether you practice yoga at home or hit the treadmill at the gym, you need to move your body to change your body. All of these diets stress the importance of incorporating exercise into your daily routine. None of them urges you to train for a triathlon or any other hard-core physical feats (though even Jacques Torres has run a marathon). Rather all of these diets encourage you to make time every day for moderate exercise, including a combination of aerobic, stretching and strength-training activities.

Are you more confused than ever about which diet to choose? Some of these programs may work better for you than others because they mesh with your own eating personality. For example, if there are certain foods you can’t live without, like dulce de leche, then you might want to consider a diet that has no food restrictions, but instead focuses on portion control, like Weight Watchers or the Zone. If you can keep your sweet tooth at bay and throw pasta to the wayside for a while (borderline heresy, you say), then you might want to try the South Beach Diet or the Fat Flush Plan. It’s up to you to do some research and decide which diet suits your needs, your lifestyle and your personality. All of these diets have guidelines for maintenance, so that once you lose the weight, you can keep it off for life. These weight control guidelines promote a lifetime of healthy eating.

So what’s a high-carb, high-fat, high-protein-eating foodie or chef to do? Put down the foie gras burger, grab a yoga mat, assume the lotus position, and let the debate begin.


Popular Diets At a Glance:
Diet: How it works: Weight Loss Claim: Pros: Cons:
The South Beach Diet This program’s basic premise is to eat good carbohydrates and good fats.

Phase I – Two-week restrictive phase that jumpstarts the weight loss process. Avoid fruits, pastry, breads and pasta, starchy vegetables, fatty meats, milk, fatty dairy and alcohol.

Phase II – Gradually reintroduce healthy carbs – fruit, low-fat dairy, whole grain bread, whole grain rice, whole grain cereal, whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, and wine. Stay on Phase II until you hit target weight.

Phase III – Maintenance phase. No food restrictions, but common sense suggests only occasional consumption of high-sugar and high starch foods.

Rapid weight loss during initial phase (8-13 lbs); Slower but continued loss in Phase II.

-No calorie counting

-Normal-size portions to achieve satiety

-Book includes recipes from top Miami restaurants like Joe’s Stone Crab and China Grill.

- Website program includes daily guidance interactive weight-loss tools, meal plans and message boards.

- Complete elimination of high sugar, high starch foods for a two-week period, even “healthy” foods like fruits and whole grain products.
The Zone Every snack and meal has the proper ratio of protein (30%), carbohydrates (40%) and fat (30%). A person’s unique protein requirement depends upon lean body mass and daily activity level. Recommended fat and carbohydrate intake is calculated based on protein requirements. Eating “in the Zone” virtually leads to automatic body fat loss, not just weight loss.

- No food restrictions, but guidelines of favorable and unfavorable foods

- Zone-friendly recipes and menus that target various lifestyles (at-home cooking, fast-food, frozen meals)

- Website program offers newsletters, meal plans and weight-loss tools, community message boards and products

- Option of daily delivery of properly balanced meals and snacks

- Properly balanced Zone meals and snacks require time and thought to prepare, unless you buy the meals

- Need to pay attention to serving sizes

Weight Watchers FlexPoints All foods are assigned point values and, depending on your weight, you are allowed a certain number of points per day. Earn extra points through exercise. Each week you are allotted 35 FlexPoints, which can be spent in addition to your daily point allowance. Up to 2 pounds per week

- No food restrictions

- Extensive support network either online or by attending weekly meetings/weigh-ins

- Tons of recipes in print and online, as well as an online recipe builder to determine point values of your own recipes

- Keeping track of points accurately can be challenging

- Fees for online usage and/or attendance at meetings

The Fat Flush Plan

Detoxify the liver and increase metabolism through a combination of healthy fats, proteins and quality carbohydrates arranged in a strict daily routine.

The diet relies on a particular combination of foods, but also allows choices within the food combinations.

Phase I – Two-week restrictive period requires daily intake of high-lignan flaxseed oil, lean proteins, up to 2 eggs per day, vegetables and 2 servings of fruit. Drink 8 glasses of unsweetened cranberry juice mixed with water daily, two of which are to be taken with powdered psyllium husk or ground flaxseeds. Daily supplements including evening primrose oil, dandelion root and milk thistle.

Phase II – Ongoing fat flush program, designed to be followed until you reach your desired weight or size. Gradually add “friendly” carbohydrates back into your diet, such as whole grain toast, sweet potatoes, or cooked carrots.

Phase III – Lifestyle Eating Program Maintenance phase allows healthy oils, nuts, dairy, and “friendly” carbohydrates, such as corn, baked potatoes, brown rice, whole grain pasta, and popcorn.

Drop a couple dress sizes in first two weeks. Diet stresses fat loss over weight loss. - Website offers products, support forums and information about the diet.

- Strict daily routine can be hard to follow

- Cranberry juice is a natural diuretic, causing frequent urination

- Complicated assortment of herbal supplements

Footnotes:

1 WebMD, Weight Cycling, http://my.webmd.com/content/article/46/2731_1663.htm?lastselectedguid={5FE84E90-BC77-4056-A91C-9531713CA348}

 


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  •  Published: Jan 2004
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