Printer Friendly

AND TO ALL A GOOD BITE BEFORE YOU SIT DOWN TO THAT HOLIDAY FEAST, TAKE A DISCERNING LOOK AT LOW- CARB DIETS.

Byline: Jillian O'Connor Staff Writer

Sticking to a diet plan is hard to do, period. But it becomes especially difficult during the holiday season when tables are laden with tempting treats that violate even the most generous of diet plans.

To lose weight, say nutrition experts, you must find a nutritionally sound diet that works for you. And knowing the pros and cons of the popular plans, such as Atkins and The Zone, can help you find the right weight-loss plan.

``The good news is that with all these diets out there, people are trying to start investigating and exploring new options (to find) a solution to their obesity,'' says clinical nutritionist Gina D'Este of Nutrition 411 in Woodland Hills. ``But they're being armed with very little information.''

Among the recent books that have won devotees in Southern California are ``The South Beach Diet,'' ``Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution,'' ``Eat Right 4 Your Type,'' Dr. Phil's ``Ultimate Weight Loss Solution'' and ``The Zone.''

``What I find with most diet books' (daily meal plans), they're between 1,200 and 1,800 calories,'' says Maria Fisk, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. ``That's weight loss; it's nothing magical. It's simply that people are eating less.''

Atkins, The Zone and South Beach all make some recommendations for carbohydrate cutbacks in favor of meat and some vegetables, and to many experts, that is simply anathema. Fisk opposes complex-carb avoidance as part of a long-term plan because of the B vitamins, minerals, micronutrients and fiber that people could be missing, even when continuing to eat fruits and vegetables.

``All of a sudden, carbohydrates have been given a bad rap,'' Fisk says. ``And carbohydrates are healthy. There are some really good carbohydrates out there, such as beans, dried peas, oatmeal, oat bran, lentils, whole-wheat breads, whole-wheat pastas. And some of these things actually lower cholesterol - where even too much chicken, and too much white meat, such as pork and chicken and lean meat, is going to actually raise cholesterol.''

According to D'Este, the low-carb trend is a great way to treat the extremely overweight right away - if their health is endangered. But she adds, ``The general population sees, 'Wow, look at how much weight this person lost,' particularly an obese person, and they think this is going to work for them. And it's overkill, basically - you're using a fire hose to put out candles on a birthday cake.''

Fisk is especially concerned about the induction phase of the Atkins regimen, during which a dieter is in ketosis, a metabolic state induced when a person eats very few carbohydrates and the body burns fat and protein as fuel instead of glucose.

``If you're on Atkins (and) low enough in ketosis, what is that going to do to you over five years, extended periods of time? The research isn't out there.''

D'Este will only use a low-carb plan with obese clients for six to eight weeks because of health concerns.

As for the South Beach plan, which D'Este and Fisk considered a spinoff of Atkins, Fisk is concerned that people won't be getting the necessary nutrients from complex carbs and whole grains.

``I think we have to get away from being afraid of carbohydrates,'' says Fisk.

Bettye Nowlin, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association in Calabasas, expressed concern over phase 1 of the South Beach Diet, which lasts two weeks.

``I would not recommend it to any patients or clients or friends or anybody because the weight loss averages about 8 to 13 pounds, and also encourages people to exclude a lot of foods that are healthy,'' like fruits, dairy, pasta, potatoes and bread.

However, she sees the second and third phases as reasonably balanced plans that emphasize lean protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, though she feels the regimen should put more emphasis on exercise.

``On phase 2, the weight loss averages 1 to 2 pounds a week. And that's safe and appropriate for weight loss.''

According to Fisk, there's no secret to the weight loss resulting from the plan in Barry Sears' book ``The Zone,'' which touts strict balance of fats, carbs and protein: The calories are simply lower than the norm.

At the same time, she takes issue with the labeling of some potentially very nutritious complex carbs, such as a few squashes and lima beans, as unfavorable carbs in the book.

While Nowlin says she could perhaps back some parts of the Zone plan, she says she would prefer to see the Zone plan not push aside rice, corn, carrots and bread, which are deemed unfavorable in the book, since she notes that they do offer health benefits.

``It refers to bad carbohydrates, and we like not to say that there are good or bad foods, but that all foods can fit into a healthy, balanced diet,'' said Nowlin. ``It's how much you eat of it, and how often you eat those foods.''

Dr. Phil's plan, as outlined in the TV psychologist's best-selling book ``The Ultimate Weight Solution,'' highlights the mental contribution to overeating and weight gain, an angle that won praise from Fisk.

But while Nowlin praises his chapter on exercise and his call for ``enlisting a circle of support,'' she opposes the book's negative stance toward food measurement and dismissal of the Body Mass Index (BMI).

Nowlin also says that the Dr. Phil meal plan, which is low in calories and high in protein, in some cases can be too low in vitamins and minerals to be healthful.

In the book ``Eat Right 4 Your Type,'' Dr. Peter D'Adamo provides food strategies for dieters and others by their blood type - O, A, B or AB - which the doctor asserts provides dietary clues to an individual's genetic history. The O diet focuses more on protein and less on grains, for instance, while a Type A diet concentrates largely on plant sources of food with little animal protein.

Fisk points out that although certain blood types do tend to have certain types of diseases, thus perhaps setting the stage for an attempt at eating to eradicate specific illnesses, she adds that ``there's no credible research'' to support rearranging the diet according to blood type. And she questioned some of the nutrient adequacy of parts of the plan, such as reliance on soy protein for the Type A diet.

Though some of the books do not call for any calorie counting, in any plan the key to weight loss is to eat less, and to eat fewer calories, not fewer carbohydrates, says Fisk.

``You can lose weight on a high-carbohydrate diet. The Japanese diet is more than 50, 60 percent carbs, and they're generally a lot thinner than Americans. So it's not the carbs,'' she says. ``It has to do with the amounts of calories. It's the portions!''

Jillian O'Connor, (818) 713-3633

jillian.oconnor(at)dailynews.com

Some of the most popular diet plans on the market today were reviewed by three local nutrition experts. They are clinical nutritionist Gina D'Este of Nutrition 411 in Woodland Hills; Maria Fisk, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank; and Bettye Nowlin, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association in Calabasas.

``Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution'' (Quill) and ``Atkins for Life'' (St. Martin's Press), by Dr. Robert C. Atkins.

Promises: More energy; tasty food; no calorie counting; lowered risk factors for diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic fatigue.

What you can eat: In initial phase, as much meat, fish, poultry and eggs as desired; limited amounts of cheese, some vegetables, herbs and spices.

What you can't eat: In induction phase (at least two weeks long), no bread, pasta, fruit, grains, starchy veggies. Cream, cheese and butter are only dairy foods allowed.

Calorie counting required?: No.

Carbs limited?: Yes.

Exercise required?: Encouraged, but not mandatory.

Fisk: ``In the person who has diabetes, this plan is definitely not a good idea. If people aren't aware of some of their health conditions, these things can be downright dangerous.''

D'Este: ``Basically, you're getting abnormally high-fat courses that are not healthy for your body. You're going to have to sustain intake of these fat courses that he's talking about - whole milk, butter and all that - and all these high fats lead to heart disease, liver, kidney failure, hardening of the arteries.''

``The South Beach Diet'' (Rodale), by Dr. Arthur Agatston.

Promises: Loss of 8 to 13 pounds in first two weeks without hunger; no mandatory exercise; loss of belly fat first.

What you can eat: In phase 1, lean meats, Canadian bacon, seafood, cheese, nuts, eggs, fat-free dairy, tofu, some vegetables, spices, sugar-free sweets in moderation.

What you can't eat: In two-week-long phase 1, all fruits and juices, all starchy food, certain vegetables, meats and cheeses.

Calorie counting required?: No.

Carbs limited?: Yes.

Exercise required?: Yes, but secondary to food plan.

Nowlin: Expressed concern over phase 1. However, she sees the second and third phases as reasonably balanced plans that emphasize lean protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

D'Este: Considers the South Beach plan to be a spinoff of Atkins.

Fisk: South Beach Diet is very much likes Atkins but ``without the red meat and cream,'' concentrating instead on very few carbs with lean meats and fish as protein sources.

``The Ultimate Weight Solution: The 7 Keys to Weight Loss Freedom'' (Free Press) and ``The Ultimate Weight Solution Food Guide'' (Pocket Books) by Dr. Phil McGraw.

Promises: A weight-loss solution that is not ``quick and easy''; the chance to surmount ongoing weight challenges.

What you can eat: On Rapid Start Plan, lean meats, dairy, fruit, vegetables (including some starchy varieties).

What you can't eat: On two-week-long Rapid Start Plan, no juice; starchy foods limited.

Calorie counting required?: No.

Carbs limited?: Only in first two stages.

Exercise required?: Yes.

Fisk: Plan highlights the mental contribution to overeating and weight gain. ``I think that Dr. Phil is right on when he talks about the psychological aspects. It's the conversations you're having with yourself. And the other conversation to stop your behavior needs to take place for permanent behavior change.''

Nowlin: ``His whole thing is based on behavior modification and cognitive restructuring - if you rethink your mind set, along with a sound, healthy diet and exercise, it can lead to permanent weight management. Well, we all would agree with that.''

``Eat Right 4 Your Type'' (Putnam), by Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo.

Promises: Book claims eating according to one's blood type may slow down aging process, providing the optimal foods for staying healthy and at ideal weight.

What you can eat: Depends on blood type. Meat is emphasized for Type O, while grains and vegetables are touted for Type A.

What you can't eat: Depends on blood type. For instance, many grains are not recommended for types O and B.

Calories counting required?: No.

Carbs limited?: Yes, for some blood types.

Exercise required?: Yes.

Fisk: ``There's no credible research'' to support rearranging the diet according to blood type. She also questioned the nutrient adequacy of parts of the plan. However, she supports the book's recommendations for whole foods, high-fiber foods, and fruits and vegetables. Regardless of the plan's angle, she says, ``You're gonna get some good results just with that alone.'

``The Zone'' (ReganBooks, Harper Collins), by Barry Sears, Ph.D., with Bill Lawren.

Promises: Permanent fat loss; peak performance; positive effects against diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression and PMS.

What you can eat: Proteins, certain carbs, fats in prescribed ratio.

What you can't eat: Foods labeled as poor choices, including some fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

Calorie counting required?: No.

Carbs limited?: Yes.

Exercise required?: Yes, but secondary to food plan.

Fisk: ``When I've looked at the meal plans, they're generally less calories than most people would eat.'' At the same time, she takes issue with the labeling of some potentially very nutritious complex carbs, such as a few squashes and lima beans, as unfavorable carbs in the book.

Nowlin: The author's ``amounts of carbs, protein and fat aren't too bad.'' But the diet scheme relies too heavily on multiple complex charts and calculations of an individual's dietary needs, and could potentially confuse even the most dedicated dieters. ``All these little complications of how you have to figure out things would be the downside to the whole thing. It's frustrating - let's get on with it!''

CAPTION(S):

drawing, 6 photos, box

Drawing:

(cover -- color) Get the skinny on your favorite plans

Jorge Irribarren/Staff Artist

Photo:

(1) Foods low in carbohydrates, including fish, dairy and vegetables, have exploded in the popularity among dieters in recent years.

Gus Ruelas/Staff Photographer

(2 -- 6) no caption (Book covers)

Box:

no caption (Review of most popular diet plans) (see text)
COPYRIGHT 2004 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 22, 2004
Words:2136
Previous Article:THE WRITING ON (AND OFF) THE WALL A MADDEN-ING TIME.
Next Article:PULSE.


Related Articles
DIET VS DIET.
Atkins' diet has place at holiday table.
CARBO CRAZE LOW-CARB DIETS ARE EVERYWHERE - BUT WILL THEY ENJOY A LONG SHELF-LIFE?
Cashing in on the low-carb craze.
Nutrition Hotline: this issue's Nutrition Hotline addresses the effectiveness of and the health concerns surrounding popular low-carbohydrate diet...
Rolling the dice on "diet" menus.
Bob Evans.
Ruby Tuesday.
Frozen promises.
Carbs vs. protein vs. mono fats.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters