Americans are spending over $40 billion a year on modern fad diets, such as Atkins, Sugar Busters, and The Zone. Yet, before we dismiss them as charlatan plays on vanity, let’s look at how they stack up to one another — and see if there’s anything we can learn from them.
1. Atkins — high in protein, high in fat, low in carbs
Benefit: Identifies refined carbs as the main culprit in weight gain.
Problem: Allows poor-quality meat (filled with nitrates and toxins) and the wrong kind of fat.
2. Eat to Win — low in protein, low in fat, high in carbs
Benefit: If you are an extremely active person, you will lose weight.
Problem: Not a long-term solution. The over-consumption of carbs will eventually lead to weight gain.
3. The Zone — high in protein, normal in fat, normal in carbs
Benefit: An emphasis on protein; good fats.
Problem: The recommended 40% protein-30% fat-30% carb ratio is not ideal for everyone.
4. Scarsdale — high in protein, low in fat, low in carbs
Benefit: An emphasis on protein.
Problem: Too low in fat — and allows no food substitutions to allow for individual tastes.
5. Carb Addict’s — high in protein, low in fat, low in carbs
Benefit: You will lose weight . . . if you strictly follow the plan.
Problem: For one hour a day, you can eat anything — and that usually means “high carb.”
6. Sugar Busters — high in protein, low in fat, normal in carbs
Benefit: Identifies sugar and refined carbs as the major causes of weight gain; encourages high protein consumption.
Problem: May be too low in fat to satisfy your appetite.
7. Protein Power — high in protein, normal in fat, low in carbs
Benefit: Focuses on quality protein and quality fat; limits carbs.
Problem: No major problem — but some people see it as restrictive.
8. No Grain — normal in protein, normal in fat, low in carbs
Benefit: Identifies grains as the cause of weight gain; stresses the importance of quality protein.
Problem: Focuses on the notion of addiction, giving you the message that you are weak.
9. Neanderthin — high in protein, normal in fat, normal in carbs
Benefit: With its emphasis on the importance of quality animal protein and fat, this is perhaps the healthiest diet you can choose.
Problem: Nothing major — but some may see it as restrictive.
10. South Beach — high in protein, normal in fat, normal in carbs
Benefit: Emphasizes quality lean protein and a normal amount of dietary fat — which is sound advice.
Problem: Encourages the consumption of whole grains — and if you eat too many of them, the pounds that you’ve lost will creep back.
So . . . what’s my verdict? I applaud all of these diets for defying conventional medicine. This new focus on quality macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbs) is an important and sound trend in nutrition advice. But to maximize the healthfulness of your diet, you need to take one further step and make sure your food comes from the most natural sources possible.
Do this by eating: quality protein from grass-fed beef, wild fish, and free-range eggs to build and maintain muscle quality, natural, unprocessed omega-3 fats to build your brain and keep your heart healthy quality carbohydrates consisting of unprocessed, micronutrient-rich, low-glycemic vegetables and fruit a limited amount of products made from grains. This is, basically, what our Stone Age ancestors ate, and it’s probably the healthiest diet — even if you don’t need to lose weight — for most people.
(Ed. Note: Dr. Al Sears is the editor of Health Confidential for Men, a publication devoted to men’s health. For information about it, click here: http://www.agora-inc.com/reports/BUL/WBULE051/.)