We can’t really get an exact definition of a fad diet, because “fads” generally refer to things that are fleeting.

Some of the diets discussed below, however, call for a long-term observance for them to be effective at maintaining a desirable weight, but they have come to be called fad diets because of the hysteria they provoked on their introduction.

>> The Atkins Diet:

Dr. Robert C. Atkins’ 1998 book, Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, and the 1992 version, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, have sold more than 10 million copies.

This plan is based on the principle that a low-carb diet switches the body’s metabolism from one that burns glucose to one that burns stored body fat, which we all want to eliminate.

This also buries the ages-old belief that saturated fat is the source of all weight problems.

Dr. Atkins claimed that only trans fats, such as those from hydrogenated oils, are to be avoided.

Furthermore, in this diet, you can have your fill of meats and cheeses, as they don’t have the prohibited carbs.

No-nos are grains, cereals, fruit, rice, pasta, potatoes, candy, sugars and alcohol.

Detractors say that this diet makes one feel lethargic, but Atkins rebuts that fatigue may occur only during the first few days of the program when your body is still adapting to the shift in metabolic pathways used.

>> The Low-Fat Diet:

Popularized in the ‘80s and the ‘90s, this umbrella name is comprised of several diets, some of which are low fat (where 20-30% of calories come from fats), and some are very low fat (where 0-19% of calories come from fats).

Very low fat diets are:

  • Scarsdale – came out in the ‘70s; it has a peculiar nutrient ratio of 22.5% fat, 34.5% carbohydrate, and 43% protein. The target weight loss is 20 pounds in just 2 weeks!
  • F-Plan – became a fad in the ‘80s; a high-fiber diet
  • Hip and Thigh Diet – popularized in the ‘90s, particularly in the U.K.; forbids all oils, nuts and seeds, butter, and dairy (except skim milk, low-fat cottage cheese, and low-fat yogurt). It didn’t take off because we now know that spot reduction is a myth
  • Pritikin Diet – a high-carb diet which involves considering the overall calorie content of a meal
  • Ornish Diet – banned foods are refined carbs, nuts, oils, seeds, avocados, and all fats; not recommended as restricting nuts, seeds, and oils deprives the body of essential fatty acids (EFAs) like Omega-3

>> The South Beach Diet:

Oprah Winfrey, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Kim Cattrall, Nicole Kidman, and many other celebrities swear by it.

Originally developed by Dr. Agatston for heart patients who needed to lose weight, the South Beach Diet has three phases…

with the first producing a drastic weight loss in 2 weeks via the avoidance of carbohydrates.

This is followed by a second phase where some of the restricted foods are reintroduced, albeit sparingly.

The last phase involves maintaining a lifestyle of eating only healthy foods.

The downside is that the foods suggested in this diet cost more than highly processed foods, so it doesn’t appeal to everyone’s budgets.

>> The Cabbage Soup Diet:

Its star is a simple recipe for cabbage soup, which you are free to have your fill of all throughout the diet.

This program is designed to go on for 7 days, with some days allowing beef and rice and others restricting it or asking you to limit yourself to only one kind of fruit in a day.

It’s friendly on the budget, but the soup can be rather tiring to eat, because you get to sip it three times a day for 7 days.

Detractors say that this diet is just a step away from starving yourself, but it has been pretty successful for many.

You also can’t get the RDA you need when your diet revolves around a single main ingredient and just a little of the other food groups. Another undesirable effect of the cabbage soup diet, by the way, is gas.

>> The Zone Diet:

This plan is all about meal ratios: 30% fats, 30% protein, and 40% carbs.

It has a lot of forbidden foods, and has often been criticized for having extremely low caloric recommendations.

There are several other diets which are less popular and did not last as long.

Some gave results that were too negligible while others were too risky to follow.

Nutritionists, dietitians, physicians, and even fitness instructors are always on the lookout for the perfect slimming diet that won’t fatigue us, won’t deprive us of nutrients, and that would show impressive results in a few days.

What’s your pick?

Have you been on any of these and got the results you so desired?

M. Jamal

Posted in How-to Factor at 11:15 pm | Comments (1)

Many women resort to crash diets to get them bikini-ready for summer or to help fit themselves into their wedding dress before the big day.

The principle is simple – they try to accommodate in two or so weeks what should be a weight plan normally designed for 6 months or more.

Crash diets entail radical reductions in caloric intake.

They range from soup diets to cleansing diets, but a common factor among them is the deprivation of nutrients needed by the body for proper metabolism and production of energy.

They last from several days to a few weeks, and there is almost always a radical reduction in weight, but crash diets are not in all aspects successful.

The Body Mechanisms Affected By Crash Diets:

Dieting is not as easy as reducing fat intake and losing pounds.

We need to look into the mechanisms in the body affected by these diets to understand what we should watch out for.

First, if you want to fit into that bikini or wedding dress in two weeks’ time, then you just might be able to do so because crash dieting is a few steps away from starvation – and we know how hunger strikers look like after a few weeks.

But the question is… is it healthy for you?

Since our body uses various sources of fuel to convert to energy, the fuel used by a 200-meter-dash athlete is different from that used by a basketball player at the second half of a game.

Studies have shown that lean tissue and muscle are the first to be broken down than stored body fat.

Thus, when people subscribe to crash diets, it’s the muscle that breaks down first before the body fat which they are actually targeting.

During extreme diets, your body will think it’s starving when you’re losing too much weight too fast, and responds by conserving fat.

The same thing happens when a person cuts down on caloric intake but does not exercise at the same time – your body will tend to whittle muscle tissue, not fat.

How Is Muscle Tissue Different From Fat Tissue?

Besides their appearance, muscle tissue is metabolically active – that is, you have to work on them to keep them healthy.

Notice how some patients recuperating from accidents lose muscle mass but gain weight?

It’s because if they can’t benefit from therapy that helps them exercise their muscles, the muscles can atrophy. However, the fat cells will stick to them like glue.

The Basal Metabolic Rate:

In order to maintain your metabolism’s health, muscle tissue is extremely important to help your body function properly in all aspects.

If there is a reduction in muscle mass, there is also a drop in metabolic rate.

Muscle that is metabolically active has to be fed well, and this is why bodybuilders have diets that can compete with those of sumo wrestlers.

How does the body respond to crash diets?

When it senses that it has been deprived of the nutrients it needs for an extended period, it makes up for the lack by lowering the basal metabolic rate, or BMR. This is the number of calories burned in a day by an at-rest body so it can maintain normal body functions.

If it decreases, it means that calories are burned more slowly by your body.

Its implication in crash diets is once you get off a crash diet and revert to your normal food routine, it will become easier for your body to deposit fat. This is what happens in the so-called “yo-yo dieting,” when someone’s weight see-saws between diets.

How, Then, Should You Keep Muscle?

Researchers recommend a target of not more than one pound a week. It may not be much, but that’s 20 pounds in 5 months, and your body will thank you for the less drastic change.

M. Jamal

P.S. Been on a Crash Diet before? How did it feel… and… was it worth it?

Here’s the video I mentioned in my last post, check it out… and why not give it a try. It’s simple, doesn’t require fancy equipment or going out of your way to the gym…

In other words, No Excuses. Give it a try.

M. Jamal

P.S. Did you try any of these Stair Training Moves yet? Love to hear your thoughts. (If you missed the link last time, here’s how to find out more about this style of training… have a look here)

Here’s an interesting Twist to your cardio workouts I just came across…

Check out the video, it’s a great demonstration of taking something that looks So Simple and tweaking it for maximum ‘Body Shaping’ effect.

Try at least one sample today (even if you’ve just got 5 minutes) and post your thoughts…

M. Jamal

P.S. I’ll be posting another interesting exercise variation soon. You can also find out more about this style of training by going here