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What Is the Best Diet?

Consumer Reports: Volumetrics Is the Best Diet Plan; Best Life Diet Is Top Book

Diet Authors Respond continued...

Westman says that even though the Atkins Diet got the lowest ranking among diet plans, the highly tested plan is more likely to work than the untested diet books that got more of Consumer Reports' coveted red bubbles (high scores) and fewer of the dreaded black bubbles (low scores).

The recipient of many blank bubbles (average scores), Dean Ornish, MD, says Consumer Reports misrepresents his diet and overlooks "30 years of studies published in peer-reviewed journals that support our claims."

"It's not only important to lose weight but to do so in a way that is most healthful," Ornish tells WebMD. "The diet I recommend is based primarily on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, soy products, and a little fish, and is low in refined carbohydrates and high in whole grains. Most authorities consider this the most healthful way to eat."

Moreover, Ornish says he is mystified as to why the Volumetrics diet gets a high score while his gets a low score, as both stress low-energy-density foods.

Differences in Fat Restriction

Volumetrics creator Rolls says she and Ornish differ mainly in fat restriction. Ornish's diet stresses reducing fat intake to 10% of calories -- but only for people trying to reverse heart disease or prostate cancer.

For weight loss, Ornish simply advises people that the fewer fats they eat, the more weight they will lose, since fat is the most energy-dense food type. Rolls says fat intake can be offset by other foods.

"You can have fat in your diet if you also have a lot of veggies and fruits to offset the fat," Rolls tells WebMD. "We show that people who eat a high-fat diet -- more than 30% of calories from fat -- but who eat a high number of servings of fruits and vegetables, actually had a lower incidence of obesity than those eating a low-fat diet with few fruits and vegetables."

Understandably miffed by the Consumer Reports rankings is Ultra-Metabolism author Mark Hyman, MD. The article says Hyman's theories of nutrition "goes beyond scientific evidence."

"The science I use may be ahead of its time, but it is still science," Hyman tells WebMD. "My book is the only one to deal with the underlying causes of disease, which also underlie obesity. The same things that make you sick make you fat -- and the things that make you fat make you sick. This is not being paid attention to by conventional medicine."

Hyman says the consumer group's low ranking of his book is due to a "dangerous" over-reliance on the USDA diet guidelines, which he calls "watered down to meet the special interests of industry."

"Eat real foods, whole foods. That is the essential message of my book," Hyman says. "That means eating foods that come from the land and not from a food chemist's laboratory."

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