Appendix I: Descriptions of Popular Diets

1. Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution by R. C. Atkins. New York: Avon Books, Inc., 1992.

• Diet Summary: The four stages include 1) the Fortnight Induction Diet; 2) the Ongoing Weight Loss Diet, 3) Premaintenance, and 4) Maintenance. The Induction Diet limits carbohydrate to 20 g/d (1 cup permitted vegetables and 1 cup salad vegetables). Unlimited amounts of beef, turkey, fish, chicken, and eggs as well as fats are allowed. This phase of the diet allows no fruit, bread, grains, starchy vegetables, or dairy products other than cheese, cream, or butter. Carbohydrate restriction is lessened during the other stages until individuals determine the level of carbohydrate they can consume while maintaining their weight loss. For some, this could be as low as 25 g/d and for others it could be as high as 90 g/d.

Concerns: Calories not specified; diet nutritionally inadequate, providing lower than recommended intakes of vitamin E, vitamin A, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium and dietary fiber. No calcium or potassium supplements, yet multiple other supplements. Diet is high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein.

Most Outrageous Statement: “Most obese people gain weight on fewer calories than nonobese.”

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

• Diet Summary: Diet provides 0.75 g of protein per kilogram IBW. Less than 30 g of carbohydrate per day allowed during the induction phase, up to 55 g/d thereafter. Calories based on protein requirements.

Concerns: Low protein, low calcium intake.

Most Outrageous Statement: “Not a single adverse reaction.”

3. Carbohydrate Addict's Diet by R. F. Heller and R. F. Heller. New York: Penguin Books, 1991.

• Diet Summary: Diet comprises two Complementary Meals (breakfast and lunch) and one Reward Meal (dinner). Complementary meals contain 3 to 4 ounces of meat, 2 cups of vegetables. Reward Meals start with salad, then 1/3 protein, 1/3 low-carbohydrate vegetables, and 1/3 high carbohydrate, all consumed within 1 hour. No snacking allowed.

Concerns: Low in calcium, iron, potassium and fiber; high in fat and cholesterol.

Most Outrageous Statements: “When unlimited food is consumed at the Reward Meal, the body doesn't produce as much insulin as normal because it was ‘fooled’ by the complementary meals into producing less insulin.” “Carbohydrate addiction.”

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

• Diet Summary: Refined sugar and high-glycemic foods (e.g., potatoes, corn, white rice, white bread, carrots, and beer) are eliminated, resulting in weight loss, regardless of whatever else you eat. Rationale: these foods cause a sugar spike and make you crave more high-glycemic foods, leading to insulin resistance, which then makes you overweight.

Concerns: Protein intake and portion sizes not presented. Normal protein requirement miscalculated. Intake of calcium, iron, and vitamin E is low.

Most Outrageous Statement: “Sugar is toxic!”

5. Eat More, Weigh Less by D. Ornish. New York: Harper Paperbacks, 1993.

• Program Summary: Dr. Ornish's multifaceted approach focuses on reversal of heart disease but is also recommended for weight loss. His program incorporates aspects of nutrition, exercise, stress management, and love and intimacy. Moderate exercise (e.g., walking) is recommended. Stress management techniques include 1 hour per day of stretching, breathing, meditation or prayer, progressive relaxation, and group support. Love and intimacy is accomplished through group support (one or two times a week) designed to create a community in which participants enhance intimate, nurturing relationships that further facilitate their adherence to the program.

Diet: VLF (10% fat) plant-based diet based on ad libitum intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and soy products. It incorporates moderate quantities of egg whites, and nonfat dairy or soy products and small amounts of sugar and white flour.

The following daily supplements are recommended:

  • Vitamin C: 2 to 3 g.
  • Vitamin E: 100 to 400 IU.
  • Folate: 400 to 2000 μg.
  • Women: flax seed oil: 2 g and fish oil: 2 g.
  • Men: fish oil: 2 g.
  • Selenium: 100 to 200 μg.
  • Multivitamin: without iron for men and postmenopausal women. Premenopausal women may benefit from a multivitamin with iron.
  • Concerns: Diet low in vitamins E, B12, and zinc. Adherence and palatability.