The skinny on three fad diets
Just about every day, our inboxes are flooded with news about the latest way to drop those extra pounds. But are they worth your efforts? We asked nutritionists to tell us about three diets we’ve recently come across.
The alkaline diet
What it is: What it is: Remember the pH scale from chemistry? It tells you how acidic or alkaline different substances are. Proponents of the Alkaline diet say that we should eat to keep our bodies’ pH level more alkaline than not in order to prevent illness and gaining weight. People on it go without grains, fish, meat, poultry, dairy and salt, and load up on fruits, green veggies, soy, lentils, seeds and nuts.
Pro: “Alkaline eating has been researched for over 12 years. Our bodies function best when in an alkaline state: Eating alkaline improves digestion, reduces constipation, improves mood, memory and cognitive function, clears skin problems, reduces inflammation, lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, lowers heart disease, balances blood sugar levels, lowers diabetes incidence, balances hormones and levels out weight. Knowing all this, why would you not eat predominantly alkaline-forming food?” – Vicki Edgson, nutritional therapist and author of “Eating the Alkaline Way
Con: “I’m promoting the healthiest, most real foods, so if you’re eating that way, chances are the acidity of your body will fall into the right place. People are already confused enough about carbs, fats and protein that to start to get into talking about pH levels [is too much].” Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN author of “The New You and Improved Diet”
The 5:2 Bikini Diet
What it is: Get the swimsuit body of your dreams by cutting calories two days a week (women eat 500 calories per day, men eat 600)
Pro: “By eating only 500 calories two days a week you will not only get bikini-ready in no time and lose up to 14 pounds in four weeks, but you’ll also dramatically lower the risk of age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart disease.”—Jacqueline Whitehart, author of “The 5:2 Bikini Diet”
Con: “The first red flag whenever you hear about any fad diet is if it purports a quick fix. There’s no way you can safely lose a tremendous amount of weight in a short amount of time.” – Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, a clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University.
The blood type diet
What it is: Your blood type is thought to have an impact on your digestive system — some fare better on plant-based diets, for example. Type As are tasked to go mostly vegetarian, allowing fish and poultry in small doses. Type Bs are supposed to load up on meat, dairy and produce. Type ABs—the newest and rarest blood type — should stay away from chicken and go easy on red meat and carbs, instead enjoying more dairy, seafood and veggies. And Type Os are encouraged to follow a high-protein/low-carb diet.
Pro: “Demi Moore, Courteney Cox, Tommy Hilfiger — there’s so many people who follow a blood type diet. If God forbid you go to the hospital and you get the wrong blood type, you’re gonna have a major problem. On that level, [though] less intense, if you don’t eat the correct foods, nor exercise the correct way, you’re not gonna yield as good results, so that’s really where the science is. Why would you consume food and do a workout that wasn’t unique [to you]? When you customize something you usually yield better results.”
-JB Berns, creator of the Blood Type Workout
Con: “There’s absolutely no science or research that your blood type has anything to do with your diet or losing weight,” Blake says. Adds Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, author of “The Small Change Diet,” “Overall the foods suggested are healthy; however, it forces individuals into dietary restrictions without taking into consideration an individual’s personal needs, lifestyle or food tastes. Any diet that promotes restricting food groups will be hard to sustain in the long run.”
The only weight loss advice you’ll ever need
“When you need to lose weight, it’s a matter of cutting back on calories, expending more than you take in and going at a slow and steady pace,” Blake says. “If you need to lose weight, set your goal for losing for 10 percent of your body weight over six months. It takes into [account] where you’re starting at; somebody losing 100 pounds is gonna be able to do it a little faster.”