Diet Revolution or Diet Sham?

Diet Revolution or Diet Sham? Critical diet dissections and real diet solutions (Hale, 2010- e-booklet) consists of information that was originally part of Should I Eat the Yolk: To Get You Lean, Fit And Healthy (Hale, 2010). The publisher decided to drop the info…from the book; they said it was “too controversial.”  The information is not controversial, but better thought of as a counter to over hyped rhetoric. If you are interested in receiving a free copy of the e-booklet message me-

With so many diet plans and books on the market how do you choose? What do you really know about these diets? Is the information scientifically sound? Are these diets effective for weight loss, or maintenance in the long-term? Or are they quick fix schemes?

The booklet provides a concise introduction to each diet and my thoughts on the diet, frequently asked questions (exercise and nutrition) and sample eating plans. Thirty-six diets are discussed in the booklet.

In the present article, my thoughts on some popular diets (including excerpts / and less well known diets) and key takeaways from – Popular Diets: A Scientific Review (Freedman, King & Kennedy, 2001) are presented.  In 2018, the Freedman et al. review is still useful.

My thoughts: South Beach Diet

The diet places too much emphasis on the glycemic index of foods. When you look at the studies comparing low-GI diets to high-GI diets there are no significant differences in weight loss assuming the calories are the same (27,28). The satiating affects of single meal low-GI foods compared to high-GI meals are indecisive. There is a wide individual variance factor when considering a food’s affects on appetite. Also remember the glycemic index of a food changes when eaten with other foods, and when you eat that food in a non-fasted state (you are still absorbing nutrients from other meals). David Jenkins originally created the glycemic index to help diabetics modulate blood sugar levels (8).

The diet allows a good balance of foods (good nutritional profile) once you get pass the initiation phase. And the plan is relatively easy to follow for most people once they pass this phase (no counting carbs, weighing food, or measuring food). Expect a substantial amount of weight loss in the initiation phase (generally creates big calorie deficit, and significant water losses) with weight loss slowing thereafter. Even though lower GI-fruits and starches are non-calorie dense eating too much of these foods can bring weight loss to a stop.

My thoughts: Intermittent fasting

When IFing, I generally fast 15–16 hours after having my first meal- consumed post-workout. My first workout of the day is performed on an empty stomach. My training sessions might involve weight-training, plyos, Thai boxing, submission grappling, agility training, or other physical activities. Regardless of the type of training, I function well while fasting (even after long periods of fasting 40hrs). There is a large variation in responses to intermittent fasting.  I don’t suggest intermittent fasting for those with glucose metabolism problems, insulin problems, or trigger food issues (or anyone with serious psychological food control issues such as severe binge eaters). 

There are various ways to structure this type of eating regimen. If you like to eat large meals and prefer to train throughout the day with little food in the gi tract this diet may be beneficial? For more information on intermittent fasting visit Berkhan’s site

My thoughts: No S Diet

Engels provides some good practical suggestions. Will following these guidelines lead to weight loss? Some people will lose weight while others will not. Beware of the “S” days.

The basics of the diet are:

  • No snacks: They’re mostly composed of fats and/or

sugars—a no brainer.

  • No sweets: Actually, you’re allowed to dive off the

wagon on weekends and holidays, but even so, there’s no

more concentrated form of calories or more efficient way

to limit them.

  • No seconds: One plate load per meal, that’s it. Because

come on, look in the mirror…you don’t need it.

  • The “S days” exception: You can abandon the diet on

Saturdays, Sundays, and Special Days (major holidays,

birthdays, weddings, making parole, etc.).

My thoughts: Natural Hormonal Enhancement 

If you follow the diet you will create a calorie deficit and lose weight. The diet is relatively easy to follow if you don’t mind low carbs. If you don’t do well with low carbs, avoid the diet.

Faigin attempts to give scientific explanations for his diet, although he fails in most cases. For example he says, “Dietary fat is not only helpful but is necessary for shedding body fat and improving your body composition.” This statement is incorrect. You don’t have to eat fat to lose bodyfat. In fact, you don’t need to anything to lose fat. If you are alive you are making use of bioenegetic systems, and those systems requires substrates including ffas (often dervided from bodyfat). An example of another explanation gone bad “Calorie counting fluids have no place in the diet of someone striving for optimal fitness and health.” Nonsense!

My thoughts: The Fat Burning Diet

I like the comprehensive food charts in the book. The foods suggested are highly nutritious, and the food chart is a good reference.  If you follow the diets guidelines you will probably lose weight. The book also has some major pitfalls, including the overemphasis on meal frequency- suggests meals every 2-3 hours; it misrepresents insulin & glucagon and overemphasizes macronutrient percentage. The book offers no scientific references or explanations for the many of the suggestions. When Robb attempts to explain the science behind his statements, he is incorrect most of the time. I think the book would have been better if Robb didn’t dabble into the scientific jargon. If you are interested in the scientific aspect of nutrition and finding the mechanisms responsible for fat loss, this book is not for you.

To reiterate the booklet contains info on 36 diets.

Key points from Freedman et al. (2001): 

Generally, obesity-related conditions are significantly improved with modest weight loss- 5%-10%. -Calorie balance is the major determinant of weight loss.

Regardless of contents, diets that consistently reduce calorie intake (below maintenance) result in weight loss- Generally, Free-living, (unrestricted, uncontrolled) overweight individuals who consume high fat low carb diets consume fewer calories than their maintenance level.

Overweight individuals consuming low fat and very low fat diets lose weight because they consume fewer calories than their maintenance level- In the short-term, high fat, low carb ketogenic diets cause a greater loss of body water than body fat. In the long-term low carb reduced calorie diets result in significant fat loss. Proteins are also lost. The amount of protein lost depends on numerous factors.

A properly planned moderate fat, balanced, nutrient reduction diet is nutritionally adequate- Generally, as body weight decreases, so does blood insulin, leptin, blood pressure, and plasma TG levels.

Many factors influence appetite, hunger and subsequent food intake. Factors to be considered include: macronutrient content, neurochemical factors, hormonal signals, gastric signals, hedonistic qualities of food, genetic, environmental, and emotional factors- Various gut hormones influence body weight regulation. These hormones include: insulin, leptin, peptide yy, ghrelin, pancreatic polypeptide, glucagon-like peptide 1, oxymtomodulin, and cholecystokinin.

During the early stages of a mixed diet, weight loss is primarily due to body fat loss.

Some low carb diets are low in vitamin E, vitamin A, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and dietary fiber- Many metabolic effects (decreased blood pressure, decreased LDL, decreased triglycerides etc.) seen with low carb diets may be the consequence of weight loss rather than diet composition. 

Some studies suggest insulin has an indirect role in body weight regulation through the stimulation of leptin. Leptin acts centrally to increase energy expenditure and reduce energy intake- Is a low fat ad lib diet or a low calorie diet better for weight loss? It is erroneous to say one is better than the other. Weight loss generally occurs with both.

Historically, very low fat diets were not promoted as weight loss diets but rather diets to prevent or reverse heart disease- Poorly planned vegetarian diets are often low in vitamin E, B12, zinc, calcium, essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, iron and phosphorus.

Poorly planned vegetarian diets are often low in vitamin E, B12, zinc, calcium, essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, iron and phosphorus- Low fat, high carb diets often lower LDL and HDL cholesterol.

Generally, studies have found protein has the highest satiety value followed by carbohydrate then fat- Very low fats are generally high in fiber (35-40 grams per 1000 kcal)

Study participants typically under report energy intake, and overestimate physical activity- Any diet that results in a calorie deficit for prolonged periods of time results in weight loss.

The best diet is the diet that you will follow for prolonged periods of time. Different diets lead to weight loss, physique enhancement, and healthier bodies; many roads lead to the same place. If you can’t stick to the diet it won’t be successful. The psychological aspect of dieting is often overlooked, but it is important in determining success. Pick a diet that you can stick with. Consider the likelihood you will use the diet long-term?

Jamie Hale