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What's Your Diet Deficit?

Many fad diets leave out more than the carbs, fat, or extra calories.

Are Supplements the Answer? continued...

"A lot of my patients see supplements as a quick fix," says Geise, "But a pill is just not the same thing as getting these nutrients in your food."

The fact is that the science isn't good enough yet. We just haven't been able to discover, isolate, and manufacture all of the nutritious things that occur naturally in foods.

"A supplement will never give you all the phytochemicals that you can get from fruits and vegetables," says Zied. "Supplements aren't a panacea for the problems of an imbalanced diet."

Besides, you should consider that any fad diet that requires you to take supplements might not be healthy in the long run.

"If your diet pushes supplements, that's a red flag," says Zied. "And if it's pushing its own line of supplements, you really have to be suspicious."

Modifying Your Diet

So what if your fad diet plan isn't giving you all of the nutrition you need? Do you have to scrap it and start over?

Not at all, say the experts. Instead, if you like the diet you're on, you can just make some changes to make it healthier. The key is to hang on to the beneficial aspects of these fad diets while filling some of the nutritional holes.

For instance, Geise tells patients, "If you don't ever want to eat white bread or white rice for the rest of your life, that's fine. But you need to get some more healthy carbohydrates in your diet." That way, she says, "patients feel like they're still sticking to the diet, but making it a little healthier. It's just modified a little." You may want the help of your doctor or a nutritionist in figuring out how to make these changes.

In the end, you need not only a diet, but also a sensible meal plan that you can stick to for life, says Magee. While you may not want to hear it, you need to get regular exercise, too. Using common sense and moderation may not be a quick fix, but it will help.

"I know it sounds so boring," says Zied. "But the data shows that a sensible diet and exercise are the only things that work in the long run."

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