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Dietitians weigh in on trendy, wacky diets

June 27, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fad diets claim to help you drop pounds, but do trendy eating plans really work? We took a look at some of the crazy ways people are cutting calories.

"There's the cabbage soup diet, the baby food diet, there's 'Master Cleanse,' a lot of cleanse and detoxes that you hear about all the time on the radio and television," said dietitian Leeann Weintraub.

For a nation that loves to eat, we seem to put some strange effort into eating less and not necessarily eating well. Even a university professor in Kansas lost more than 27 pounds eating Hostess snack cakes.

"The baby food diet, for example, is 1,000 calories a day and it's developed for babies, not adults. It doesn't have enough calcium, vitamin D, fiber. It doesn't have taste, it doesn't have texture, and it's not something you are going to be able to stick with," said dietitian Patricia Bannan.

Bannan said whether it's liquid or semi-solid, it simply doesn't satisfy.

"You are going to get bored really fast. We are meant to have texture, we are meant to have taste, we are meant to enjoy our food," said Bannan.

Weintraub agrees, saying we are used to chewing and tasting our food and having spices and unique flavors.

"When you are eating baby food, you are eating bland, plain food that is made for infants," said Weintraub.

The dietitians said take a pass on the baby food, and the same goes for the Twinkie diet.

"The Twinkie diet is a great example of limiting your calories and portion sizes. No matter what you eat, you will lose weight. But it's a horrible diet in terms of your health, and it's not something you want to stick with. And you're not going to be a very nice person to be around," said Bannan.

But both experts said the Twitter diet has merit.

"There was one guy who lost, I think, over 60 pounds tweeting what he was eating," said Weintraub. "I know that some people have actually gone on to use a scale, where they weigh themselves and their weight goes straight to Twitter."

Bannan said the Twitter diet is like a modern-day food journal.

"It makes you accountable for what you are eating," said Bannan.

But the diet plan still has some drawbacks.

"There is no structure or guidelines for a Facebook diet or the Twitter diet," said Weintraub. "So really you are going to need some sort of a guideline to follow or a meal plan to follow. Otherwise, I think some people who don't know how to eat right and want to lose weight could still be kind of in the dark."

There's no surprise that what does work isn't exactly sexy. Your best bet is to keep calories to no less than 1200 a day eating three meals plus two snacks that contain lean protein, whole grains, and of course lots of colorful produce.


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