Diets A-Z

An overview of the most popular plans, from Atkins to Zone.
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It's easy to be attracted to fad diets -- they promise quick and dramatic weight loss and don't require you to exercise. But the reality is, these diets can be too low in calories, nutritionally unsound, and unable to deliver long-lasting results. Once you start eating normally, the weight usually comes back on just as quickly as it came off. That said, here is a look at the most popular diet plans, as summarized by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. --Mindy Hermann, R.D.


Diet Type Description Drawbacks
Atkins' New Diet Revolution, by Dr. Atkins Extremely high-protein, low-carbohydrate fare. All the meat and vegetables you want, no restriction on fats like butter and salad dressing, but very little fruit and no pasta or bread. High in fat and saturated fat. Low in fiber and calcium. Limited fruits and grains.
Carbo- hydrate Addict's Diet, by Drs. Heller Low-carbohydrate eating. Meats, dairy, vegetables, fruits, grain products; other carbohydrates are limited. Can be too high in fat and saturated fat, depending on choices made for "reward" meal.
Choose to Lose, by Dr. Goor The focus is on low fat. You get a "fat" budget and choose how to spend it. Doesn't stigmatize carbohydrates. You eat lean meat and poultry, low-fat dairy, seafood, fruits, vegetables, bread, pasta, cereals. Low in saturated fat. Ample fruits and vegetables. Fairly healthy. If your triglycerides are high, cut back on the carbs and eat more unsaturated fats.
DASH Diet Moderate fat, moderate protein intake.High carbohydrate fare. Originally designed to lower blood pressure, the DASH diet follows the Food Guide Pyramid but encourages whole grain foods and more servings of fruits and vegetables (up to 9 daily) and of lowfat or nonfat dairy products (2 to 3 per day). For some dieters, may be too much food to result in weight loss.
Eat More, Weigh Less, by Dr. Ornish Extremely low-fat, vegetarian fare. Allows vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, limited nonfat dairy (yogurt and cottage cheese) and egg whites. Restricts even some healthy foods like seafood, lean poultry, and low-fat dairy. Low in calcium.
Eat Right for Your Type Varies by blood type. Type of diet is based on blood type. For example, recommends lots of meat for those with Type O blood. Some of the "blood-type" diets are too low in calories and nutritionally unbalanced. No proof that blood type affects dietary needs.
The Pritikin Principle The focus is on cutting calorie density; eating more "watery" foods that make you feel full. Fruits, vegetables, pasta, oatmeal, soups, salads, low-fat dairy. Limits protein to lean meats, poultry and seafood. Restricts some healthy foods because it limits even lean protein sources. Can be low in calcium. The low saturated fat and ample fruits and veggies is a healthy aspect of this diet.
Protein Power Extremely high-protein, low-carbohydrate eating. Lots of meats and fats. Some fruits and veggies. Too high in fat and saturated fat. Too low in calcium. Restricts some healthy foods like grains and beans.
Sugar Busters! Low in carbohydrates, moderately high in fat and protein. Many forbidden fruits and grain products. High-fat meats and dairy products allowed. Restricts some healthy foods, like carrots and bananas. Low in calcium.
Volumetrics Low calorie-density eating. Fruits, vegetables, pasta, oatmeal, soups, salads, lean meats, poultry, seafood, dairy. Very few fatty foods or dry foods like crackers, pretzels or popcorn. Reasonably healthy. Low calorie density. Low saturated fat. Lots of fruits and vegetables.
Weight Watchers Moderate fat, moderate protein, high carbohydrate Flexible eating program where dieter spends an "allowance" of points to put together a daily diet. Generally, vegetables and whole grain products are lowest in points while high fat foods are highest. Healthy. Low calorie density. Dieter is not given a set meal plan and has to plan own diet every day.
The Zone Moderately high in protein, moderately low in carbohydrates. Low-fat protein foods like chicken and fish, along with fruits, veggies, some grains Reasonably healthy, as it's low calorie density. Too few whole grains and too little calcium.


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