Avoiding "Fad" Diets and Tips for Eating Out

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The cabbage soup diet, the low-carbohydrate and high-protein diet, and other so-called "fad" diets are fundamentally different from federal nutrition dietary guidelines and are not recommended for losing weight. Fad diets usually overemphasize one particular food or type of food, contradicting the guidelines for good nutrition, which recommend eating a variety of foods from the Food Guide Pyramid. These diets may work at first because they cut calories, but they rarely have a permanent effect.Avoid "Fad" Diets

The cabbage soup diet, the low-carbohydrate and high-protein diet, and other so-called "fad" diets are fundamentally different from federal nutrition dietary guidelines and are not recommended for losing weight.

Fad diets usually overemphasize one particular food or type of food, contradicting the guidelines for good nutrition, which recommend eating a variety of foods from the Food Guide Pyramid. These diets may work at first because they cut calories, but they rarely have a permanent effect.

A high-protein diet is one fad diet that has remained popular over the years. "High-protein items may also be high in fat," says Robert Eckel, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. High-fat diets can raise blood cholesterol levels, which increases a person's risk for heart disease and certain cancers.

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High-protein diets force the kidneys to try to get rid of the excess waste products of protein and fat, called ketones. A buildup of ketones in the blood (called ketosis) can cause the body to produce high levels of uric acid, which is a risk factor for gout (a painful swelling of the joints) and kidney stones. Ketosis can be especially risky for people with diabetes because it can speed the progression of diabetic renal disease, says Eckel.

"It's important for the public to understand that no scientific evidence supports the claim that high-protein diets enable people to maintain their initial weight loss," says Eckel. "In general, quick weight-loss diets don't work for most people."

Tips for Eating Out

  • Ask for nutrition information (for example, calories, saturated fat, and sodium) before you order when eating out.
  • Choose foods that are steamed, broiled, baked, roasted, poached, or stir-fried, but not deep-fat fried.
  • Share food, such as a main dish or dessert, with your dining partner.
  • Take part of the food home with you and refrigerate immediately. You may want to ask for a take-home container when the meal arrives. Spoon half the meal into it, so you're more likely to eat only what's left on your plate.
  • Request your meal to be served without gravy, sauces, butter or margarine.
  • Ask for salad dressing on the side, and use only small amounts of full-fat dressings.

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Linda Bren is a staff writer for FDA Consumer. This article is reprinted from www.fda.gov

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