Can Fad Diets Work?
Many dieters are still trying to find the magic bullet to weight loss. WebMD gets the skinny from experts on the latest quick-fix diets.
Eating From the Bible
Another currently popular program, the Maker's Diet, created by Jordan S.
Rubin, is based on the theory of a "biblically correct diet and
lifestyle," including modest portions of whole foods from sources consumed
in as close to a natural (unrefined and unprocessed) state as possible. Rubin's
plan also focuses on emotional and spiritual health. His diet's seven keys are:
eat to live; supplement diet with whole foods, living nutrients, and
superfoods; practice advanced hygiene; condition your body with exercise and
body therapies; reduce toxins in your environment; avoid deadly emotions; and
live a life of prayer and purpose.
Clinical dietitian Janet Basom of the Joe Arrington Cancer Center (JACC) in
Lubbock, Texas, says that just because a diet plan -- more specifically, this
particular diet plan -- is on the best-seller list, doesn't mean that it
doesn't work or that it's not sensible.
"Through both my professional and personal experience, this plan is in
tune with what I believe to be true," says Basom.
"This isn't a 'far-out' diet," Basom adds. "The goal of the
program is to help people make permanent lifestyle choices, not necessarily to
lose weight. It's more about teaching people to make the best selections, not
only in what they eat, but in how they live."
Basom has been so encouraged by the results of the Maker's Diet that she has
received a grant to conduct a research trial on the program among the 100-plus
employees at JACC.
Recognizing the Fads
Not every popular, new diet can be classified as a "fad" diet, says
Basom, which she defines as one that is more of a "quick fix" that is
not going to lead to improved health, and that can't be pursued on a long-term
There are several ways to recognize a fad diet, suggests Steagall. A fad
- Doesn't include the variety of foods necessary for good health and/or
doesn't teach good eating habits.
- Claims you can "trick" the body's metabolism into wasting calories
- Makes dramatic claims for fast and easy weight
"In reality, all of the glitz and glamour approaches will probably not
be effective for safe and long-term weight loss if they don't incorporate a
balanced, healthy diet and increased physical activity," says Steagall.
Fat Smash Diet
One popular diet that vigorously promotes exercise is the Fat Smash Diet,
seen by TV viewers on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club. Host -- and author of
the diet -- Ian Smith, MD, has made exercise an important focus of the program,
with a "prescription" for 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week, in
the initial stage of the program, and an increase in activity in each of the
remaining three stages.
Smith has said that the 90-day program is designed to change our approach to
eating and exercising by making lifestyle changes. You first "detoxify"
by eating mainly fruits and vegetables for nine days, with no meat, bread,
cheese, coffee, or alcohol allowed. During the "foundation" phase,
which lasts three weeks, more foods appear on the permissible list and exercise
is kicked up 10% to 15% above phase one. The four-week "construction"
phase allows for an occasional treat, and exercise jumps 25% over phase two.
Once dieters reach the lifetime "temple" phase, Smith claims they will
have constructed a routine of good habits that will last a lifetime.