5 Ways to Spot a Dangerous Diet Plan
Pick a day. Any day. About half the women in this country are dieting on that day. And while they may be successfully losing weight, they could also be on the path to a painful, debilitating disease: osteoporosis. Without intending to do so, many popular diets are causing women to lose bone density, causing irreversible damage.
This is a startling fact: Researchers from Rutgers University say that of the 11 most popular weight loss programs, about half do not contain enough calcium and other critical nutrients, reports FitCommerce.com. "Women who follow calcium-poor diet plans for extensive periods of time could be causing irreversible damage to their bones and putting themselves at greater risk for osteoporosis," lead study author Audrey Cross told FitCommerce. "Some of the popular diet regimens reinforce the myth that dairy foods are fattening, but any plan that restricts milk and does not provide adequate amounts of calcium may be causing more harm than good."
Beware! The top five diets with the least amount of calcium are:
- Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution
- Sugar Busters
- Suzanne Somers' Fast & Easy
- The Perricone Prescription
- Body for Life
If you follow any of these diets, you'll get less than 60 percent of the daily recommendation for calcium. While women who are 19 to 50 years old need 1,000 mg of calcium every day, some diets provide as little as 475 mg.
Cross warns women to look for these five signs of a dangerous diet:
- Promises a quick fix
- Lists "good" and "bad" foods
- Blames specific nutrients or hormones for weight problems
- Promotes food combining and rigid rules for eating
- Eliminates one or more food group
Here's a tantalizing fact: If you stop eating dairy products, it could make it harder to lose weight. A recent study from the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville that was published in the Journal of Nutrition concluded that low-fat dairy products may help control body fat. Lead researcher Michael Zemel says that a diet rich in low-fat dairy foods will change the way the body's fat cells do their job. "A diet high in low-fat dairy causes fat cells to make less fat and turns on the machinery to break down fat, which translates into a significantly lower risk of obesity," he explained in a news release announcing the study results. In other words, dairy foods burn fat.
Who benefits the most from a diet rich in low-fat dairy products? Women. "What we found is that women who consumed at least three servings of low-fat dairy foods per day were at the lowest risk of becoming obese," said Zemel. "In fact, there was an 80 percent reduction in risk for any given level of calorie intake."
It's tempting to cut out the dairy foods when we want to lose weight, but when you do this, Zemel says it sends a signal to your body to conserve calcium, which in turn creates higher levels of the hormone calcitriol. It's calcitriol that triggers the production of fat cells. When the calcitriol levels are boosted, fat cells expand and store themselves in the body. Translation: You get fat. But when you eat dairy foods, you get more calcium. And calcium suppresses the calcitriol. That in turn breaks down more fat.
All you really need to do is drink two glasses of fat-free milk daily. That will keep your calorie count in check and boost your metabolism.