Investigating Diet Trends

With chronic conditions on the rise—heart disease, cancer, and diabetes—many Americans look to diets for prevention and management of illness as well as general weight loss.

 

Popular Diets

There is an ever-growing list of dietary approaches on the market. A few of the most popular diets include the following (in alphabetical order):

  • Atkins
  • DASH
  • Ornish
  • South Beach

 

Diet Definitions

Atkins[1]

Atkins is a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet promoting low-starch vegetables, seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, animal and vegetable fats, artificial sweeteners (sucralose, saccharine, and stevia), whole-to-moderate-fat dairy, and no-calorie beverages. Starchy vegetables (like potatoes) and fruit are restricted or limited, especially in the initial phases of the plan.

DASH[2]

DASH is a low-fat, high-fiber, calorie-restricted diet rich in fruits and vegetables, reduced-fat dairy, nuts, beans, seeds, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, and fish.

Ornish[3]

Ornish is a very-low-fat, plant-based diet with limited carbohydrates (sugar, alcohol), no added fats/oils, no or moderate salt, and no or low caffeine intake. The plan permits fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, soy products, nonfat dairy, egg whites, and foods containing omega 3 fatty acids and suggests accompanying the diet with a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement containing B-12 and fish oil (based on physician recommendations).

South Beach[4]

South Beach is a low-carbohydrate diet. Unlike Atkins, South Beach is also low in saturated fat. The initial phase of the plan is gluten-free permitting lean proteins, low-starch vegetables, and limited fats/oils. Unprocessed carbohydrates, low refined sugar, whole grains, fruit, and additional vegetables are gradually introduced.

 

Diet Benefits and Risks

 Whereas the dietary approaches resulted in relative weight loss across the board, there are still additional benefits and risks to consider before making a lifestyle change.

 

Atkins

Low-carbohydrate diets like Atkins have proven difficult to adhere to long-term.[5] In a comparison of popular weight loss plans, Atkins scored the lowest on the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) because it was the lowest in fruit and cereal fiber and highest in red meat and trans-fat, the combination of which may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.[6]

DASH

A low-fat diet like DASH not only manages weight but reduces the risk of chronic disease. In one study, participants on a 30% fat diet showed sustained weight loss and reduced cardiovascular disease risk factors.[7]

Ornish

Ornish scored among the highest on the AHEI for maximizing weight loss and cardiovascular disease prevention.[8] However, a very-low-fat diet like Ornish (<20% fat diet) may be difficult to sustain over time.[9]

South Beach

A low-carbohydrate diet that is also low in saturated fat like South Beach have proven effective in not only lowering weight but also triglyceride levels.[10] Evidence shows that an increase in triglyceride levels increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.[11]

 

Conclusion

New dietary approaches are flooding the market. Weigh (pun intended) the benefits and risks and consult your physician or other healthcare professional before adopting a new dietary approach to determine if it is the right fit for you.

Stay tuned for future posts featuring different dietary approaches!

 

References:

[1] Atkins: Low carb diet program and weight loss plan. Accessed at https://www.atkins.com/.

[2] The Dash diet eating plan. Accessed at http://dashdiet.org/default.asp.

[3] Ornish lifestyle medicine. Accessed at https://www.ornish.com/proven-program/nutrition/.

[4] South Beach diet. Accessed at http://www.southbeachdiet.com/home/index.jsp.

[5] MA Y, Pagoto SL, Griffith JA, et al. A Dietary Quality Comparison of Popular Weight-Loss Plans. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2007;107(10):1786-1791. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.07.013.

[6] MA Y, Pagoto SL, Griffith JA, et al. A Dietary Quality Comparison of Popular Weight-Loss Plans. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2007;107(10):1786-1791. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.07.013.

[7] MA Y, Pagoto SL, Griffith JA, et al. A Dietary Quality Comparison of Popular Weight-Loss Plans. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2007;107(10):1786-1791. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.07.013.

[8] MA Y, Pagoto SL, Griffith JA, et al. A Dietary Quality Comparison of Popular Weight-Loss Plans. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2007;107(10):1786-1791. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.07.013.

[9] MA Y, Pagoto SL, Griffith JA, et al. A Dietary Quality Comparison of Popular Weight-Loss Plans. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2007;107(10):1786-1791. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.07.013.

[10] Fields H, Ruddy B, Wallace MR, Shah A, and Millstine D. Are Low-Carbohydrate Diets Safe and Effective? The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, December 2016, Vol. 116, 788-793. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2016.154.

[11] Harchaoui KE., Visser M., Kastelein JJ., Stroes E., Dallinga-Thie G. Triglycerides and Cardiovascular Risk. Current Cardiology Reviews. 2009;5(3):216-222. doi:10.2174/157340309788970315.