Smart Lessons from Silly Diets

News and Advice, Weight Loss
on January 4, 2012
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Five Hands Diet

Premise: Reportedly followed by Victoria Beckham after the birth of her daughter, this plan consists of five small meals—about the size of a handful of food (thus, the name “five hands”)—of lean protein like smoked salmon, yellow fin tuna, and scrambled eggs, accompanied by green vegetables, water, and goji berries and nuts for snacking.

What's smart about it: Five Hands encourages heart-healthy, omega-3-rich foods, and the handful system could help people who struggle with portion sizes. It also encourages regular snacking, a good way to keep your metabolism going and prevent binging.

What's not-so-smart: “This plan does not include enough calories or essential nutrients, particularly important for women who are breastfeeding, and it is restrictive” says American Dietetic Association spokesperson Dr. Joy Dubost. 

The Blood Type Diet

Premise: Eat—and exercise—for your blood type in order to metabolize food properly and stay healthy.

What's smart about it: This diet doesn’t involve tracking calories, which could help followers become more mindful, paying attention to feelings of fullness and hunger versus concentrating on a number.

What's not-so-smart: “There is a lack of solid, scientific evidence to recommend this diet, along with the fact that there are restrictions of healthy foods such as whole grains, legumes, soy and some produce, depending on blood type,” Dubost says. 

Baby Food Diet

Premise: This diet is purported to have been adopted by several actresses, and calls for eating baby food during the day followed by a 300-calorie dinner.

What's smart about it: Baby food is essentially fruit or vegetable puree, and incorporating it into your diet, in a smoothie, yogurt, or oatmeal, for example, is an easy way to increase your consumption of fiber and nutrients.

What's not-so-smart: “This diet is likely to be very low in calories for an adult,” says Lona Sandon, American Dietetic Association spokesperson and assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas. 

Dukan Diet

Premise: The latest high-protein, low-fat diet, Dukan follows four phases, each with different food parameters, to help participants drop pounds.

What's smart about it: Incorporating lean protein into your diet can help you feel full and prevent over-eating, and provide fuel for muscles. In the second stage, followers can include non-starchy veggies, though the plan restricts other important food groups, Dubost says.

What's not-so-smart: “Due to restrictions of carbohydrates, including whole grains, fruits, and other essential nutrients, this diet can result in bad breath, constipation and fatigue,” Dubost says. “Rapid weight loss on diets like this more often than not results in rapid weight gain,” Sandon says. 

The Nordic Diet

Premise: The Nordic diet encourages consumption of wild game and fish (think herring, mackerel, salmon and trout); free-range lamb; cold climate vegetables like kale and cabbage; root veggies; legumes; fruit, berries and nuts; and whole grains such as rye, barley, and oats.

What's smart about it: Nordic “promotes moderation and not starvation, and the enjoyment of good food,” Dubost says. “It also promotes sustainability and supports local ingredients.”

What's not-so-smart: “This diet may be hard to follow for people with busy, active lifestyles,” Dubost says. “It promotes cooking and ‘being in touch’ with the whole food preparation experience, which is great, but difficult for a busy individual. Local ingredients may not always be available.”