Course: Critical Analysis of Popular Diets and Dietary Supplements

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(Some of these diets are outline in Anderson et al. (2000). Health advantages and disadvantages of weight-reducing diets: a computer analysis and critical review. J. Am. College Nutr. 19(5): 578-590)

Eades, M.R. and Eades, M.D. Protein Power. New York: Bantam Books, 1996.

They identify insulin as the culprit for obesity. They believe that high levels of insulin cause metabolic disturbances and result in elevated blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides, diabetes and obesity. They suggest restricting carbohydrate intake to overcome metabolic disturbances and alleviate medical problems. Guidelines concentrate on the amount of protein consumed.

Steward, H.L., Bethea, M.C., Andrews, S.S. and Balart, L.A. Sugar Busters! New York: Ballantine Publishing Group, 1995.

They believe that "sugar is toxic!" and that insulin insensitivity causes obesity and non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Their diet plan focuses on reducing high-glycemic carbohydrates (insulin stimulating carbohydrates) to lower insulin levels and decrease insulin resistance. They also believe that calories themselves are not as important as the types of foods we eat and how we eat them. Their concept is to consume foods with a low glycemic index (high fiber begetables, fruits and whole grains), lean meats and fats in moderation.

Sears, B. and Lawren, B. The Zone. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995.

This diet promotes high-protein, modestly restricted carbohydrate meals. Sears states that "eating fat does not make you fat," but "it is your body's response to excess carbohydrate in your diet that makes you fat". He believes that specific eicosanoids produced by the body determine an "optimal metabolic state". He further postulates that production of health-promoting eicosanoids results from consumption of the appropriate balance of micronutrients at each meal (30% protein, 40% carbohydrate and 30% fat).

Anderson, J.W. and Gustafson, N.J. Dr. Anderson's High Fiber Fitness Plan. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 1994. and Anderson, J.W. and Breecher, M.M. Dr. Anderson's Antioxidant, Antiaging Health Program. New York: Carroll and Graff, 1996.

These authors advocate generous intakes of vegetables, fruits and high-fiber foods with a moderate restriction of fat intake. This "diet" emerged from research indicating that high-carbohydrate, high-fiber, low-fat diets increase insulin sensitivity, lower insulin needs in diabetics and improve serum lipids.

American Diabetes Association, The American Dietetic Association: Exchange Lists For Weight Maintenance. Alexandria, VA: American Diabetes Association, 1995.

This is the official recommendation of the two authoring associations and many dieticians use these principles for weight-loss and weight-maintenance diet prescriptions. The recommendation is to consume approximately 50-55% of calories from carbohydrates, 10-20% from protein and <30% from fats. Foods are categorized into exchanges of fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, carbohydrates and fats. Individuals are encouraged to consume a specified number of items from each exchange depending on the person's caloric intake and individualized need. High fat animal products and oils should be limited.

Pritikin, N. and McGrady Jr, P.M. The Pritikin Program For Diet and Exercise. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1979.

This diet is low in fat, cholesterol, protein and highly refined carbohydrates but high in complex carbohydrates and fiber. It advocates an intake of 5-10% calories from fat, 10-15% from protein and the remaining ~80% from carbohydrates (complex carbohydrates). Meat and fish are limited to 4 oz. Per day and most foods selected are plant-based, high-fiber foods that are low in "energy density".

Ornish, D. Eat More, Weigh Less. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.

This diet is plant-based and vegetarian and is low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates and fiber. Ornish recommends that individuals consume <10% of their energy intake from fat. He suggests that fat is the culprit for weight gain because the body converts dietary fat into fat stores more readily and efficiently.

Weight-Watchers (

Jenny Craig (

Inthinity Weight Loss Program (

Slim Fast (

South Beach Diet



Chitosan and other "fat blockers," including orlistat

Fiber supplements

Chromium picolinate