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:


Al Sears has written six books and more than 500 articles in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging and nutritional supplementation. He enjoys a worldwide readership of millions spread over 123 countries and has appeared on more than 50 national radio programs, ABC News, CNN and ESPN. In The Doctor’s Heart Cure, Dr. Sears exposes the real causes of the modern epidemic of heart disease with practical how-to advice for building real heart strength and resistance to disease without drugs. It is available in nine languages and remains a bestseller three years after its publication. His 12 Secrets to Virility sheds light on the huge environmental and nutritional problems with virility in our modern world and gives men a step-by step guide for maintaining health, strength and masculinity as they age. It became a bestseller during its first month of release. His latest book Your Best Health Under the Sun addresses the myths of the sun’s dangers and gives readers an action plan for restoring this important natural resource for better mood, strength, energy and nutritional health.Dr. Sears is board certified as a Clinical Nutrition Specialist and was appointed to the international panel of experts at Health Sciences Institute, (HSI) a worldwide information service for alternative nutritional therapies. A master gardener and herbalist, Dr. Sears maintains an herbal apothecary of more than 250 organic herbs used for research, education and treatments. Dr. Sears is the founder and director of The Wellness Research Foundation, conducting original research evaluating natural alternatives to pharmaceutical therapies.Dr. Sears is a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and is board certified in Anti-Aging Medicine. As a pioneer in this new field of medicine, he is an avid researcher and sought-after lecturer to thousands of doctors and health enthusiasts. He is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Youth Sports Coaches Association. As well as being a sports and fitness coach and a lifelong advocate of exercise programs, Dr. Sears is an ACE-certified fitness trainer. He maintains his integrative clinic and research center in Florida, where he has developed novel exercise and nutritional systems transforming the lives of more than 20,000 patients.