Still confused by the plethora of diets flooding the market? You’re not alone! In our the previous post “The Scoop On Diets,” we discussed four breakthrough popular diets, “The Atkins Diet,” “The South Beach Diet,” “Weight Watchers,” and “The Mediterranean Diet.” In this post we will continue on the route of exploration into three more new popular diets: “The O2 Diet,” the relatively new “17 Day Diet,” and the all-inclusive “Vegan Diet.”
First, a quick refresher on what I’ve gathered from the American Dietetic Associations website, www.eatright.org. We discussed five rules or claims one should avoid on weight loss plans and products:
The American Dietetic Association says to avoid products that claim:
1. Rapid Weight Loss: “Slow and steady weight loss is more likely to last than dramatic weight changes. Healthy plans aim for a loss of no more than ½ to 1 pound per week.”
2. Quantities and Limitations: “Avoid any diet that eliminates or severely restricts entire food groups, such as carbohydrates. Even if you take a multivitamin, you’ll still miss some critical nutrients.
3. Specific Food Combinations: “There is no evidence that combining certain foods or eating foods at specific times of day will help with weight loss.”
4. Rigid Menus: “Limiting food choices or following rigid meal plans can be an overwhelming, distasteful task.”
5. No need to Exercise: “Regular physical activity is essential for good health and healthy weight management.”
So, how do these three new diets stack up to the ADA’s guidelines on safe weight loss plans? Let’s start with “The O2 Diet,” which I have a personal bias towards.
THE O2 DIET:
I personally tested this Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) diet created by Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, last summer. Before we talk about how I faired, lets discuss what ORAC means. ORAC, in short, is a way to measure the antioxidant capacity of foods. So…then what are antioxidants?
Before we delve into the purpose of antioxidants in an individual’s diet, there is an important term we will need to know: Free Radicals. To explain free radicals, let the elementary chemistry class begin. To put it in the most basic way possible without boring everyone to tears, you may recall an atom must consist of a nucleus, neutrons, protons, and electrons. A complete atom will have the same number of electrons as it does protons and will fight by sharing electrons with other atoms until it reaches this stable state with a perfect balance between the two and a full outer shell. Free radicals are formed when an atom’s outer shell isn’t complete and has an odd, unpaired electron. These free radicals float around the body trying to fill that outer shell by attacking the nearest stable molecule and stealing its electron. The result: damage to the body’s other cells and potential for an array of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and (gasp) symptoms of aging!
That leaves us with the question that Keri Glassman confronted and answered, “how do we combat these free radicals?” The answer: antioxidants. Antioxidants are found in many food items, especially fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C and E. Basically, antioxidants rid the body of these free radicals by intercepting them on their path to destruction and lending one of their electrons to the wandering and lost free radical atoms, thus completing the atom.
Okay, with that understanding in mind, let’s discuss the diet plan itself. As many diets do, this one starts with a cleanse. The four day cleanse has a very strict, and from what I recall, half delicious, half bland diet to follow. Without giving away the specifics of the diet that you can find in the book, I will explain this cleanse the best I can.
- Breakfast: includes egg whites and limited yolks with basil. This didn’t make me gag but I wasn’t exactly begging for more.
- Snack: Oh the snack…Let me describe to you the horrors of canned artichokes for a moment. Every time I took a bite, I felt a small amount of vomit arise in protest of the foul food, and a piece of my soul disappear. This may be a small exaggeration, but very small. Needless to say, I found a different snack.
- Lunch: This is the part I most looked forward to. My lunch of choice was a spinach salad with an allotted number of nuts, a lean protein, and a fig dressing. In fact, I still eat this lunch even off the diet.
- Snack: Once again, you have the ability to pick from a few different options which provide a certain ORAC value.
- Dinner: Asparagus and a lean protein.
*Again, these are but a few of the many options allowed on the O2 diet in which I chose. Your choices may differ so don’t yet write off the diet as a contender.
Next step on the diet plan is the four-week diet consisting of natural and whole foods. This stage is relatively easy to follow because the book gives a list of food options and substitutions so you don’t get bored with the same ole routine. Alongside each option is the listed ORAC value so you can easily calculate your daily intake and stay on track. Glassman’s website has a nice ORAC calculator tool easily accessible for extra help, which can be found at: http://www.nutritiouslife.com/ORAC. The colorfully covered book also contains equally colorful pages of simple but delicious recipes.
Let’s look to the ADA judges for a grading. “The O2 Diet,” doesn’t promise rapid weight loss and while it does limit your food intake, it loosens the reins a good amount after the four-day cleanse and only limits you in the right ways. That is, limitations on processed foods and fatty unnecessary junk with no nutritional value. The book also allows you to pair whatever ORAC valued foods you choose and includes a section underscoring the value and necessity of exercise. Overall, once I impressed myself with my will power in staying on the diet (especially the cleanse), I faired pretty well and dropped quite a few pounds. Would I recommend this diet? If you have willpower, then yes, absolutely. However, stay away from the canned artichokes, just the thought makes me want to curl up in the fetal position.
THE 17 DAY DIET:
While I haven’t personally tried this particular diet,“The 17 Day Diet,” created by Dr. Mike Moreno and made popular by Dr. Phil’s television challenge, is centered around four cycles listed on the diet’s website: www.the17daydiet.com. They follow the typical diet plan routine of a cleanse followed by a slow reintroduction of certain foods back into the diet and, “each [cycle] is designed to improve a different body system, including digestion and metabolism…” The four cycles are listed below and quoted from the book preview listed on the diet’s website.
1. Acceleration: “To promote rapid weight loss improving digestive health. It helps clear sugar from the blood to boost fat-burning and discourage fat storage.
2. Activate: To reset our metabolism through a strategy that involves increasing and decreasing your caloric consumption to stimulate fat-burning and to help prevent plateaus.
3. Achieve: To develop good eating habits through the re-introduction of additional foods and move you closer to your goal weight.
4.Arrive: To keep you at your goal weight through a program of eating that lets you enjoy your favorite foods on weekends, while eating healthfully during the week.
The book also features a 17 minute workout routine that is highly encouraged. So, does it stack up to the ADA’s guidelines of a safe and legit weight loss program? Everything seems relatively okay, but there is one aspect that caught my eye. The exact quote from cycle one in book is, “To promote rapid weight loss…” This worried me since the ADA specifically said to avoid products claiming rapid weight loss. Before giving up on the diet entirely, I thought surely Dr. Moreno must be aware of these rules! And so it would go, he is. His book also explains new studies finding that rapid weight loss helps you keep weight off longer. We’ll let the ADA and Dr. Moreno battle that one out on their own. Other than that, he seems to follow the guidelines relatively well offering variety back into the diet as well as a workout plan. The jury is still out for me on this one.
Here’s a little clip from the creator of “The 17 Day Diet“:
THE VEGAN DIET:
Oh where to begin on the vegan diet. Because of the vast ocean that is veganism, we will only slightly scrape the surface of this lifestyle choice. I will however, provide several links for further personal investigation. I suppose we shall begin on what veganism is exactly. According to the article “Veganism in a Nutshell,” off USDA supported site, The Vegetarian Resource Group, found at: www.vrg.org, a vegan is one who, “in addition to being vegetarian, does not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, , cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal product.” While there are many reasons apart from nutrition, such as environmental, that people choose the vegan diet, we will stick with the nutritional argument in this post. I recommend the before mentioned website for further reading on the other topics.
Veganism thrives on variety. Again, according to The Vegetarian Resource Group, a complete vegan diet must include “fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes.” You may have the same question as I did, and apparently several others as it is in the FAQ’s section of the before mentioned site, where do vegans get protein? Apparently, almost all foods except alcohol, sugar, and fats provide some protein. Some sources include: lentils, chickpeas, tofu, peas, peanut butter, soy milk, almonds, spinach, rice, whole wheat bread, potatoes, broccoli, kale, so on and so forth. I feel it may take centuries to fully delve into the wide array of information surrounding the vegan diet so here is another USDA supported site that offers a packet of information should you be so inclined to further pursue the idea: www.vegansociety.com/information-pack.
The article “Veganism in a Nutshell,” lists all the different ways in which each nutrient and vitamin is obtained through a vegan diet and I highly recommend reading it! However, what I can sum up for you are some meals that are vegan certified and shockingly delicious. Oatmeal, stir-fried vegetables, cereal, toast, frozen fruit desserts, salad bar items, macaroni, tofu lasagna, homemade pancakes without eggs, oat nut burgers, etc. The list goes on for decades!
This one is tricky when comparing it to the ADA’s guidelines because it isn’t, in so many words, a diet as much as a lifestyle choice. It isn’t necessarily promoted to lose weight as much as to fill our body with healthy nutrients while benefiting the environment. The argument can be made that it limits your food choices, but they aren’t considered limitations if you choose to eliminate the option of those foods all together. There is no specific menu. You can eat whatever you so choose as long as it doesn’t come from animals or by-products of animals and, like any other real and healthy diet, it encourages exercise as a part of life.
Well, that leaves us at the end of our blogs on diets. These, once again, are not recommendations for a diet you should choose, but only information on the many that are out there. Hopefully these past two blog posts help you to sort through and pick the one you feel best suits you.
Don’t worry, the next few blogs won’t be as lengthy but will still contain a good amount of information to clear up some baffling nutrition myths and truths that are floating around in the media today. Once again, any suggestions are more than welcome!