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The Big Three In The Diet World

The Big Three In The Diet World—How Do They Stack Up?

If you've been struggling with weight and losing weight for any length of time, if you go to the supermarket, if you watch television, listen to the radio, read on the internet or do just about anything else that brings you into contact with the world, you already know that weight loss is a national obsession. This obsession is characterized - and has been for decades - by the periodic acclimation of 'the only diet you'll ever need!"

Fad diets have come and gone over the years. Some linger, most are forgotten by all but those who might have lost weight, gained weight or been damaged by them. Some of the diets were so unhealthy that they garnered the warnings of medical America, or were loudly decried as dangerous and unhealthy. As early as the seventies, there were diets that recommended cutting out ALL carbohydrates and consuming only meat and proteins - or the reverse, eliminating all proteins entirely.

The current "fad diets" include some of the most famous diet names in the recent history of weight loss: the Atkins Diet, the South Beach diet, and the Zone diet. All three have come under fire for their contention that one can eat a healthy diet and lose weight without restricting the intake of protein and fat-rich foods like meats and cheese. This flies in the face of conventional medical advice to restrict fatty foods in the diet.

So what about these three diets? Do they work? Are they safe? Can each of them, as claimed, form the basis for a lifetime of healthy eating? The answers are - surprisingly enough to all three - very likely. On the surface, each of them makes the claim that carbohydrates are bad, proteins are good, and you can eat all the protein you want and still lose weight.

How does that reconcile with the contention that a healthy diet is low in proteins and saturated fats, derives 50-60% of its calories from carbohydrates, and emphasizes whole grains and fresh vegetables as the main source of nutrition? Take a closer look at a typical menu recommended on each of the above diets and see.

Typical Meal Using USDA Recommendations

3 oz lean fish (brushed with olive oil and garlic and broiled)

2 cups of spinach salad with grapefruit

1 tablespoon olive oil vinaigrette dressing

1 oz slice whole grain/whole wheat bread

Contains: approx 350 calories

                 20 g. carbs

                 15 g. protein

            14 g. fat

South Beach Diet Dinner Menu:

Poached salmon with Greek salad.

Sugar-free jelly with low-fat topping

Contains: approx: 300 calories

                   17 g. protein

                    3 g. carbs

                   14 g. fat (olive oil in Greek dressing)

Atkins Diet Dinner Menu:

Spring Salad

Green Goddess Dressing

Maple-Mustard Glazed Baked Ham

Baked Artichoke-Parsley Cheese Squares

Roasted Asparagus

Atkins Coconut Layer Cake

Contains approx:    400 calories

                     18 g. protein

                     17 g. carbs

                      8 g. fat

The Zone Dinner Menu:

Baked salmon with Fruit salsa (kiwi, blackberries, apple)

Contains approx:    435 calories

                     17 g. protein

                     10 g. carbs

                      5 g. fat

Notice anything? No matter how the ingredients are counted - calories, carbs, exchanges, and food blocks - the bottom line is the same. A healthy diet that will lead to lasting weight loss includes a balance of protein, carbohydrate and fats with an emphasis on complex carbohydrates and lean meats.

So pick the diet that seems to make the most sense to you - and use it as the start of a new healthy eating style for a healthier, slimmer you!



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