Category Archives: Fad Diets
We get a lot of questions asking how our way of eating differs from say the Dukan Diet or the Atkins Diet. Well the latter two are indeed quite similar in their make up and include similar foods although at different stages. However many of the foods and even non foods (as may better describe them) included are in fact detrimental to both health and well being. In addition both these diets are specifically geared towards weight loss results and fall short on considering long term sustainability as they are both temporary programs with one focus, losing weight. In particular the Dukan diet severely reduces fat intake and relies upon calorie restriction and exercise to provide results. The Atkins diet fares little better as it encourages you to purchase their own brand processed foods. We will look at the Atkins diet a little closer in this series, however for now we’re going to focus on the Dukan Diet
This diet is high-protein, low fat, low carbohydrate dieting with four separate stages:
Stage 1 The first phase is protein only for up to 10 days to get into ketosis, then you alternate pure protein one day, protein and vegetables the next day until you lose the weight you want to lose, then you gradually reintroduce other food.
Stage 2 Alternate days of protein only and protein plus vegetables.
Stage 3 Gradually re-introduce “forbidden foods” – apparently this generally includes one fruit and two slices of whole grain bread per day, one serving of carbs per week (e.g. pasta), and two cheat meals (they call it “celebration meals”) per week.
Stage 4 Eat anything you like here, or that is providing you do the following: Consume 3 Tbsp of oat bran per day, one day per week eat only protein, walk 20 minutes a day and avoid all elevators/escalators.
Well doesn’t much like fun to me, boring, restrictive and has little to do with long term health or even keeping the pounds off afterwards. While this diet has some elements that are beneficial to both weight loss and health, its focus is almost entirely on providing weight loss results at the expense of long term health and long term results. This is because many of the foods advocated such as bread, pasta and the like should be avoided as they are detrimental to long term health and disrupt the bodies biochemistry leading to weight gain.
Walk 20 minutes a day and avoid all elevators and stairs? Of course the only reason for this is to make the diet work and get results faster, which is totally the wrong approach. Firstly remember exercise is a fitness tool and although it has several benefits including social interaction and may also be used by professional athletes to make the grade, it has no place in weight loss for the man or woman in the street. If you are several pounds (or even stones) overweight, just moving around is all the exercise you need worry about. Think diet as your weight loss tool. Eating the right foods is all you need to do to achieve almost effortless weight loss. Remember exercise less, eat more (of the right foods) rather than eat less exercise more.
A major concern of the Dukan diet is it encourages it’s followers to avoid fat, in particular animal fats. To actively promote the consumption of low fat products is not only ridiculous, but also extremely dangerous and counter productive when focusing on weight loss. Fat, particularly natural dietary animal fats are an essential requirement for our health, well-being and even happiness. They should make up proportionally the biggest percentage of our diet followed by protein and lastly carbohydrate making up by far the smallest portion.
Of even greater concern is the inclusion of significant quantities of oat bran. Bran once thought to reduce colon cancer and even heart disease has now been shown to have no benefit. It was also thought to improve irritable bowel syndrome but again has now been shown to have no benefit, in contrast it is now thought to actually exacerbate the problem. Bran is used in the Dukan diet because of it’s high fibre content which slows digestion and gives the sensation of feeling fuller. But why would you want to do this? Why would you want your body to think it has had more nutrients than it has? The answer of course has to be because the foods you are eating cause you to gain weight. There is never any justification for this course of action, simply eat nutrient dense real foods in the quantities you desire and your body will naturally take care of the rest, it’s that easy! Bran has also been shown to deplete the body of calcium, zinc, iron, sterols, fats and fatty acids. In addition bran is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, autism, depression, eczema, IBS, learning disabilities, menstrual dysfunction, osteoporosis, rickets and slow childhood growth.
So lets assume that even after considering all the above you persevere with the Dukan diet and lose several pounds or even stones and realise your weight loss goal. Now what? This diet then goes on to encourage you to re-introduce the very foods that made you fat to start with. Of course you probably won’t realise this at the time or see the connection and and may well blame yourself for gaining weight (again), hey you must have eaten too much and exercised too little…wrong! You just got taken in again, as many do. Welcome to yo-yo dieting, a sure fire route to becoming obese or even morbidly obese.
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A Life Changing Experience:
I started the Paleo way of eating/life February 2011, 9 months ago. My health wasn’t good, I was exhausted and felt bloated and sick most of the time. I had followed many of the so-called ‘healthy’ diets in my life, and had been particularly seduced by a well-known low fat diet in the mid 90s, which in resulted in me eating tons of carbs such as cereal, bagels, bread and beans that I ended up desperately trying to burn off through long runs each day.
I started to put on weight on this diet, and found it almost impossible to control the amount of food I was eating. I became addicted to eating breakfast cereal, and it started to form the basis of nearly all of my meals during my first year at university. I developed IBS after several months on this low fat diet, which was so bad, it affected my attendance at university. I became so exhausted and depressed, I eventually went to a specialist, who diagnosed me with ME.
Although I achieved some remission from ME after seeing a nutritionist who advised me to cut out sugar and junk for a while, my real health breakthroughs have come through following a paleo/primal way of eating. I was sceptical when my brother-in-law fitness instructor discussed some of the benefits of following a way of eating that included animal fats and coconut oil. Like many people, I had been fully brainwashed into thinking that these foods were unhealthy as they contained saturated fats. However, after hitting yet another brick wall with my health, where I was having problems conceiving, had polycystic ovaries, and was gaining weight rapidly, I felt I was running out of options. I went to a ‘functional nutritionist’ who ran some tests showing me the extent of my health problems. I remember being shocked when he said that my body was having a ‘health crisis’, and if I had carried on eating what I was eating, I could end up with some serious health problems. The tests showed I had a parasite in my gut, my hormones were out of sync (estradiol and testosterone too high, progesterone too low). He also suspected that I had become insulin resistant. He explained that my hormones had probably been affected by my years of following a low fat diet, as they need fat to remain balanced. He put me on an eating programme that was in line with the Paleo/Primal guidelines. Although it’s not hard to follow, it took me a while to re-programme my thinking and allow myself to eat fat again without guilt. I also had to get used to not eating sugar, grains and cereals; the foods I have been consuming in huge quantities all of my adult life.
So, 9 months into the Paleolifestyle change, I have lost 2 ½ stone, am no longer bloated after eating, no longer have a parasite, my progesterone is now within the normal range and I have so much more energy to do things I’ve wanted to do for years in my life. I come back from work in the evenings with plenty of energy to work and play in the evenings. I feel fuller than I have for years, and enjoy the most delicious, rich food that is full of fat to help my body keep my hormones balanced.
People at work can’t believe I’ve lost weight eating the amount of fat I have in my food! I lost the weight at a slow, steady pace and reached an equilibrium for several months, but I wasn’t bothered; this was not just about my figure, this was about me reclaiming my life back and supporting my body to heal itself from the damage I had caused it through poor lifestyle choices. Anyway, my body has started shedding excess fat again and I’ve recently lost another 4 pounds. I never thought it was possible to have vibrant, optimal health without feeling deprived, but now I do:
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