Wednesday, November 7, 2012

All You Wanted to Know About Fad Diets and more!

OK, I'm not a comedian, but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night.  Really!  No, Really! I did!


  • Promises rapid weight loss
  • Uses before and after photos
  • Uses testimonials with extreme results
  • Utilizes statements by "nutritional experts"
  • Requires no exercise, or
  • Requires extreme exercise (often very hard)
  • Restricts your food choices, sometimes to only 1 item
  • Is not balanced
Today, I was saw an add for African Mango Extract, the latest in a long line of diets and products that promise easy weight loss quickly!  Dr. Oz even called it a "breakthrough supplement" and a "miracle in your medicine cabinet".  (There's your "expert" statement).  When I went to the website, it reported an average weight loss of 12.5 pounds in 28 days.  There were testimonials with astonishing results.  There is no exercise required.  Oh, works best when combined with a colon cleanse.  No wonder it works; clean out the sludge, limit the foods and buy our product!  Oh'll lose that stubborn belly fat, too.  (I'm only including the link here so you can see for yourself just how slick this marketing campaign really is.  Click here.)

Last month, I'm going to call it the Amberen Diet, a slick new pill that helps menopausal women lose weight after 40, especially stubborn belly fat.  (That's about 85% of that demographic.)  If you go to the website (see previous blog), you'll see the same thing:  expert testimonials, pictures, and a buy button.  It is also sold with an attempt to get you to exercise and eat right by including pamplets for your entertainment.

There was also the "Lose 24 pounds in A Week Crash Diet Approved by Dr. Oz"  (see my previous blog post).  First, it's connected to Dr. Oz ("expert").  Second, it's a strict diet that will make you lose water weight first, then pounds quickly.  As a crash diet, it will work, although you might only lose 1/4th of what it claims.  However, without making lifestyle changes permanently, this diet will also fail and you'll end up on a yo-yo.

Last year, it was the Acai Berry Diet.  Acai is an extract from berries, is known as a powerful antioxidant and it has also been linked to fast weight loss.  Because it was "associated" with Oprah and Dr. Oz, it has grown in popularity and internet marketers are using them illegally as "endorsements".  It fits the description of a fad diet.

Fad diets have been around for years.  Here's some of the more funny fad diets:

The advertising for "Fat-O-NO" on display at Minnesota's Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, promises a tablet that "helped over 100,000 women to their normal weight" and was purportedly "recommended by doctors and chemists everywhere" and required "no starvation diets or strenuous exercise." 
  • Alcohol only diet - William the Conquerer (yeah...he died)
  • Atkins diet, South Beach diet,  Kremlin diet, Low carb diet, Low fat diet
  • Astronaut diet (500 calories/day), Scarsdale diet (very low calorie diet)
  • Cabbage Soup diet - 7 day diet of nothing but cabbage soup!  Yummy!
  • F-Plan diet, (1,500 caloires/day), high fiber leading to F = flatulence
  • Zone diet, a balanced approach to better eating
  • Sleeping Beauty diet - Elvis Presley (sleeping pills to sleep more, eat less!)
  • Optifast diet - Oprah, (800 calories/day)
  • Blood Type diet - pretty self explanatory
  • 1981 Beverly Hills diet - eat what the stars do, because they look good
  • 1830's - Graham Cracker Diet
  • 1863 Banting diet (lean meat, vegetables, fruits, low carb, no processed foods - they hardly existed!)
  • 1903 Masticator diet, aka Fletcherize diet (chew, but do not swallow), Rockefeller and Kellogg
By 1903, La Parle obesity soap that "never fails to reduce flesh" was selling at a pricey $1 a bar. The Louisenbad Reduction Salt pledged to "wash away your fat." Soon came an exercise machine, the Graybar Stimulator to jiggle the pounds. Bile Beans promoted a laxative approach.
  • 1917 Calorie Counting, advocated 1,200 calories/day
  • 1925 The Cigarette Diet, smoke more, eat less
  • 1928 The Inuit Meat and Fat Diet, protein and fat, little fruits and vegetables
  • 1930's The Hay Diet, separating foods (and enemas several times a week)
  • 1935 Diet Pills:
Dinitrophenol --  This chemical was used in the manufacture of dyes, insecticides and explosives.  Doctors found that it raised the body's metabolism, making it easier to burn calories. By 1935, an estimated 100,000 dieters had tried the pill for weight loss. Three years later, several cases of blindness -- and a few fatalities -- were linked to the drug, and it was taken off the market.
  • 1954 The Tapeworm Diet
1961 The Calories Don't Count Diet - eat as much as you want of a high protein diet, provided that you washed it down with three ounces of polyunsaturated vegetable oil, delivered in a pill he provided. The doctor was eventually convicted of mail fraud for peddling safflower oil capsules.
  • 1964 The Drinking Man's Diet, YES!  Beer and Meat
  • The Martinis and Whipped Cream Diet (this sounded crazy, but I had to include it)
  • The Grapefruit Diet, 1/2 grapefruit with every meal and bacon and eggs.  Yummy!
  • The HCG Diet - for another blog
  • The Paleo Diet - for another blog
The government's first advice to balance proteins, carbohydrates and fat came in 1894. A few years later, life insurance companies reported that being overweight raised the risk of death. In 1916, the Department of Agriculture came up with the five food groups. Around World War II, charts showing ideal weight-for-height emerged, surprisingly close to what today is considered a healthy body mass index.
Are fad diets worth it?  If losing weight quickly and not-permanently is your goal, then a fad diet will work for you.  But, so will getting rid of processed foods, consuming the right amounts of nutritious foods and moving your body more.   The difference is that a lifestyle of good choices will outweigh a fad diet any day, any year.

Long live 365fitt!


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