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Comparing Weight-Loss Diets

This 4-parts article will review on the following 4 types of popular diets in the market:

  1. South Beach Diet
  2. Atkins Diet
  3. Ornish Diet
  4. Meal Replacement Diets

South Beach Diet

South Beach DietWhat: Created by cardiologist Dr Arthur Agatson, this diet comes in three phases. Carbohydrates and fruits are absent from the first phase. Instead, dieters eat controlled portions of lean meats, shellfish and low-glycaemic index (GI) vegetables like broccoli and celery for two weeks. A mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack is a must even if you are not hungry. For phase two, the rate of weight loss slows down as banned foods are gradually reintroduced into the diet and eaten in moderation. Phase three is for weight maintenance purposes after attaining target weight. The cycle repeats itself if weight returns.

Will the cut in carbohydrates and fruits for phase one affect health?

Generally, phase one aims to restrict carbohydrates while increasing protein intake. This sends the body into a state of “ketosis”, where fats are use as an energy source instead of sugars. The low carbohydrate diet rapidly depletes glycogen stores in the muscles and liver. This facilitates water loss, which accounts for the initial rapid weight loss seen.

Fruits are good sources of fibre, protective anti-oxidants and phytochemicals such as carotenoids and flavanoids. These naturally-occurring compounds have been shown to protect against cancer and boost the immunity. So while you may substitute fruits with vitamin pills or fibre drinks or even eat more vegetables, these won’t give you the same nutritional benefits as fruits.

Phase two focuses on low-glycaemic index food. What are they and are they healthy?

Low GI foods are those where carbohydrates break down slowly, releasing glucose into the bloodstream gradually. As low GI foods are more filling, it reduces one’s appetite and therefore lowers insulin levels making “fat-burning” easier and fat storage less likely. Low GI diets have been associated with a reduced risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. However, some low GI foods like chocolates, pizza and potato chips are high in saturated fats, while some high-GI foods may still be good choices because they are nutritious and relatively low in calories (e.g. watermelon and pumpkin). It’s more important to look at the nutrient content of a food item, rather than just the GI.

The South Beach Diet advocates three snacks daily, even when one is not hungry. Is this good for the body?

Having three small meals and three snacks a day prevents hunger pangs, binges, provides consistent energy and is one of the most effective ways to maintain metabolism. However, it is important that the snacks are healthy and pre-portioned to prevent overeating, and that meal sizes are reduced to compensate for the additional calories.

Advantages

  • The diet is fairly balanced after the initial strict phase.
  • It does not rely on high fat intake, especially saturated fats, unlike the Atkins diet.
  • It encourages regular meals and snacks.

Disadvantages

  • Initial phase involves high amounts of protein foods and omitting carbohydrates. High animal protein intakes have been linked to higher risks of coronary heart disease, cancer and renal disease.
  • Much of the rapid weight loss in phase one is due to water loss and is unsustainable.
  • Can be expensive and time consuming.
  • Low diet compliance, due to numerous phases and restrictive food list.
Next Part : Atkins Diet >>

* Products mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Weight-loss results are not typical, individual results will vary.
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