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Hot Diet and Fitness Trends for 2005

Low-carb is out; satiety is in.

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Just as archaeologists trace the history of a civilization by excavating layer after layer of earth, you can also track the history of my diet and exercise programs by digging down through the layers in my closet. Or at least you could until I moved and was forced into a yard sale. Sorting through the old books, videotapes, and equipment was like jumping into a fitness trend time machine.

There was the Scarsdale Diet, the grapefruit diet, the Zone diet. Abs of Steel, Buns of Steel, Achilles Tendons of Steel (not really), Jazzercise, and Tae Bo were in the mix. And let's not forget the Ab Roller, the Thighmaster, or the Buttmaster. OK, I confess, I didn't really buy into every one of these diet and exercise crazes, but like many people seeking a better body, more than a few captured at least some of my time and attention.

With the high-calorie holiday season here, it's not too soon to start thinking about the diet and exercise trends for 2005, the ones that we'll soon be vowing to follow after gorging on turducken and pumpkin pie. What's on the horizon -- and will these new trends sizzle, then fizzle, or stand the test of time?

Low Carb on Its Way Out

The big diet headline of 2005 may be the beginning of the end of a trend. If 2004 was the Year of the Carb Busters -- with businesses from Lean Cuisine to McDonald's to beer distributors trying to cash in on the high-protein, low-carbohydrate craze -- many diet experts predict that 2005 will be the Year of the Crash for low-carb mania.

Just as the low-fat frenzy peaked in the early 1990s, then disappeared almost as fast as it came, carb-phobia seems to be on its way out. Harry Balzer, who tracks America's eating habits for the NPD Group, a leading national market research firm, predicts that low-carb dieting will start to decline after reaching its peak in 2004 (none too soon for companies such as Krispy Kreme, which has blamed declining sales on the carb police).

NPD's research shows that the number of people in the U.S. who say they follow carb-slashing diets like Atkins and South Beach hit a high-water mark in January at 9%. The number has since dropped to around 7%. That's not to say that you won't still be seeing low-carb products on supermarket shelves for years to come. After all, Snackwell's low-fat cookies are still around despite years of declining sales.

"But you can't fight statistics," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, a dietitian in New York, and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). "Just as with the low-fat craze, the low-carb movement hasn't really changed our rate of obesity. All the low-carb aisles in supermarkets aren't making Americans smaller. All they're doing is making [food] producers' wallets bigger."

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