Articles about Nutrition

Is It a Fad?

We all know the most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and many turn to the trendiest diets their friends or the media promote. As a dietitian, I need to try and keep up with the latest fads and I will review a few of them below.

The Paleo Diet. This plan has dieters mimic the eating habits of the Paleolithic times when we were a “hunter and gatherer” society.  This diet promises to prevent chronic disease and increase athletic performances. Although our ancestors may not have had the chronic diseases we see today, they also did not live as long as we do now, and many of the chronic diseases are not seen until “old” age. FYI, the average lifespan for the “hunter and gatherer” society was 30 years.


The pros of this diet – you are encouraged to consume unprocessed foods such as, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and seafood. The cons – entire food groups are eliminated: dairy, whole grains, and legumes, which can lead to nutritional inadequacies. Many people consume dairy, whole grains and legumes on a daily/weekly basis and live to a very advanced age.

Cleansing Diets. This is a big trend with the Hollywood crowd, and lately I have seen a lot of supplement and cosmetic companies marketing their own versions. Basically, one is told they need to “cleanse” to remove waste and so-called toxins from our body.  In short, our bodies detox or cleanse our system on a daily basis, this one of the functions of your kidney and liver and there are no studies to suggest our GI tracts and organs need any help.

I personally cannot  find any pros with this diet. As for the cons, the calorie intake is typically low, between 650-1,300 calories and it lacks many of the nutrients your body needs, such as protein, calcium, iron, and zinc. Of note, Pamela Peeke, MD, a WebMD fitness expert, says “that without enough protein in the diet, your body must get protein from some other source – so it burns its own muscle mass.  At the end of the fast, the dieter will weigh less, but his or her body will be higher in fat and lower in muscle.”

Check out my blog Internet Marketers of Acai Berry Weight-Loss Pills & Colon Cleansers to pay $1.5M.

hCG Diet. When women are pregnant, they gain weight in their belly, due to the growing fetus, but they tend not to gain belly fat.  They also produce a hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), therefore the premise of this diet – hCG, must be responsible for not producing belly fat. In reality this diet is a very low-calorie plan (500 to 800 calories per day) supplemented with injections of the pregnancy hormone hCG.  If you can pull off eating only 500 to 800 calories a day (NOTE: I do not recommend this low calorie intake), then you would lose weight regardless of the injections!  Remember the golden rule: the faster it comes off, the more likely you are to regain it.  Although there are multiple red flags with this diet, one important red flag is scientists don’t know if hCG is safe to inject when you’re not producing it naturally, and as far as I know men don’t produce a pregnancy hormone.  Therefore, my recommendation for this diet is to just stay away!

Just for fun I would like to share the dates and names of some “fad” diets of past, courtesy of


1925: Cigarette diet – “just reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet”.

1930: Dr. Stoll’s diet aid – the first of the liquid diets.

1950: The Cabbage Soup diet – flatulence is listed as a main side effect.

The Grapefruit diet – also known as the Hollywood diet.

1961: Calories Don’t Count diet – The FDA filed charges regarding the diet’s claims.

1964: Drinking man’s diet – Harvard School of Public Health declared diet unhealthful!

1970: Liquid Protein diet – liquid protein drinks were low in vitamins and minerals.

1976: The Sleeping Beauty diet – the individual was heavily sedated for several days.

1985: The Caveman diet – early version of the Paleolithic diet.

1987: The Scarsdale diet – low-carbohydrate, low-calorie diet.

1994: The Atkins diet – high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet.

2005: Cheater’s diet – cheating on the weekend is required.

2010: Baby Food diet – basic plan: 14 jars of baby food a day, optional adult dinner.


With so much emphasis on weight in our society it is not surprising that millions of people fall prey to fad diets and bogus weight-loss products (I didn’t even touch on the products out there!). The info out there is confusing, with conflicting claims, testimonials, hype from so called “experts”, and even the media can make it difficult for an individual to make the right choice when it comes to weight loss. Here are some simple things to consider next time you are looking to shed a few pounds.

– There are no foods or pills that magically burn fat.

– No super foods will alter your genetic code.

– Avoid diets that eliminate food groups.

– Ditch diets that allow unlimited amounts of any food (grapefruit, cabbage soup).

– Physical activity is essential for weight management and good health.

– Slow, steady weight loss is more likely to last than dramatic weight changes.

– Eat color! Fruits and veggies are low in calories and offer fiber, antioxidants,

and nutrients.

– Remember: there is no one diet that is right for everyone.

For a personalized plan, tailored to your lifestyle and food preferences, consult a registered dietitian with expertise in weight management.  A RD can help you find a realistic, flexible eating style that helps you feel and be your best.

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