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Protein Is the Darling of the Dieting Set -- For Now

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"Don't be fooled. This diet has been attributed to the Mayo Clinic since the 1940s," says Nelson. "We started receiving calls in the '40s about a diet that emphasizes a lot of protein, very limited, if any, starch, very few fruits, and very limited vegetables. I think the only fruit it allows is grapefruit because it supposedly 'burns' body fat. To the best of our knowledge, it never originated at the Mayo Clinic and we do not endorse its use.

"I think that one of the reasons these types of diets are popular is that they initially do result in immediate weight loss. When you eat a high-protein diet, you have a tendency to lose more water weight than body fat per se, and so you get a more immediate response," says Nelson. "But are you truly losing the type of weight you need to lose?"

"Weight management should not be short-term; it needs to be a lifelong commitment. If you go at it short-term you are going to struggle gaining and losing the same pounds over and over again," says Nelson. "And when you take the longer view of weight management, a well-balanced diet that provides all of the necessary nutrients in the amounts that are needed ends up being very important."

"The best way to lose weight is to take the long view and make sure that your diet has a wide variety of foods in it, is slightly lower in calories than what you need to maintain your present weight, [and] that you include more physical activity," says Nelson. "Achieving those two things -- a healthy diet and more physical activity -- in your day-to-day lifestyle requires behavioral changes and is difficult to do."

No magic bullets here.


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