Avoiding diet fads in the battle of the bulge - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Avoiding diet fads in the battle of the bulge


Temperatures are starting to warm up and while most of us haven't unpacked our flip flops just yet, some people are thinking about bathing suit season. That's prompting a lot of diets.

There are a few popular diets and whether they are either helping or possibly hurting you.

"I've done cleanses," said one dieter.

"I've tried the water, lemon, cayenne diet with the maple syrup," said another.

"The cabbage soup diet. I think I tried the grapefruit diet once," said another.

In the battle of the bulge, people are always looking for that secret weapon.

"Ridiculously small portions and homeopathic medicine, which was bunk," said one dieter.

The experts say, when it comes to losing weight, there's no secrets here.  Rebecca Scritchfield is a registered dietitian.

"We have the data that shows that diets don't work and no matter how tempting, we should really be looking for a smarter way to lose weight so we can keep it off for the rest of our lives," Scritchfield said.

One UCLA study found people who went on diets initially lost 5 to 10 percent of their weight, but after six months, up to two thirds of them gained back the pounds, plus a few extra.

But that hasn't stopped new fad diets from gaining popularity. One of the latest crazes is the HCG diet, where people eat no more than 500 calories a day and take an appetite suppressant made from a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women.

"There is no real evidence this works. There's a lot of potential side effects," Scritchfield said.

Side effects include irritability, dizziness, confusion, even blacking out.

Scritchfield says another popular diet in Washington, D.C. is the master cleanse, a type of detox diet where people drink a concoction of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water.

"My biggest concern with that is you're not allowed to have any food whatsoever, so how could you possibly meet your nutrition needs," Scritchfield said.

So what's the best bet to get summer ready?  Scritchfield says it's simple. Focus on calorie management. The tough part is figuring out how to get the most out of foods that taste good, but won't pack on the pounds.

"We're going to be eating light and eating often, so meals every three hours, a meal or a snack, and they are going to be light, small, balanced meals," Scritchfield said.

Be careful of pitfalls.  Scritchfield says you want to limit your calorie intake, but don't skip meals to get there. That'll leave you starving and more likely to indulge in fatty foods. And just because a food says it's low fat, doesn't make it healthier.

"A lot of the reduced fat foods are actually higher in sugar or they add some sort of fake food ingredient," Scritchfield said.

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