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The detox diet

The detox diet is a restrictive diet that consists of consuming only whole plants, or in the form of juice, for 1 to 7 consecutive days. More than a weight loss, the detox would allow to detoxify the body and to feel better. Be careful, detox is very controversial, you have to be careful.

Characteristics of the detox :

  • Diet based on fruits, vegetables or juices
  • Duration from 1 to 7 consecutive days
  • Weight loss and detoxification of the body
  • Very restrictive diet
  • Lemon juice, water and tea at will

The main principles of the diet

There is not one but several detox diets: lemon, juice or whole fruits and vegetables. This type of diet aims to support the organs in their purification functions to induce detoxification.

How does the lemon detox diet work?

The "Detox" diets come in different forms:
  • Variable duration: 1 to 7 days
  • Consumption of fruits only
  • Consumption of vegetables only
  • Consumption of juices or smoothies
  • Vegetarian type of diet

How does the detox diet help me lose weight?

The detox diet promises improved physical and mental well-being, increased energy levels, reduced cravings, better sleep quality, glowing skin and a stronger immune system. Detox diets compare the human body to the engine of a car that clogs up over time, accumulating waste and toxins that can lead to fatigue, dull skin and hair, weakened immune system, digestive problems, etc. Toxins come from the body and are not only a source of energy, but also a source of stress. Toxins come from the body itself, but also from outside through pollution, medication, smoking, alcohol, etc. The body would be unable, at some point, to eliminate all these wastes and so a detoxification cure would be necessary. The liver, kidneys and intestines are the most targeted organs during a "detox" cure. By detoxifying, these organs would become more efficient and the metabolism more powerful. As a result, we would be more inclined to burn calories.

It is important to mention that the human body, and mainly the liver and the kidneys, are the key organs in the treatment of waste in the body. Yes, the body produces waste but it is taken care of by our organs and eliminated naturally. The liver participates, among other things, in the formation of urea before its elimination from the body, in the metabolism and elimination of alcohol and drugs with the help of the kidneys, in the breakdown of fatty acids, etc. Secondly, the kidneys are responsible for the filtration of blood and the elimination of waste. So there is no need to worry about the quality of our blood if the kidneys are working well.

How long does the detox diet last?

The detox diet lasts between 1 and 7 days, it is not recommended to go beyond that. Indeed, it is above all a very restrictive diet which could, in the long term, lead to important deficiencies. There are many ways to practice it: a few consecutive days, one day a week, etc.

Permitted foods

The foods or drinks to include in the "detox" day are generally
  • Green tea
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Artichokes
  • Beet
  • Citrus fruits: lemon, orange, grapefruit
  • Berries: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries
  • Foods rich in chlorophyll: asparagus, dandelion, avocado, kiwi, kale, watercress, chives, mint, basil, thyme, parsley, etc.
During this period, it is usually recommended to drink at least 1.5 liters of water per day. Some diets also recommend drinking water with freshly squeezed lemon or green tea in the morning on an empty stomach throughout the day.

We realize that the foods proposed during a detox cure are foods containing an appreciable quantity of antioxidants. Let's remember that antioxidants have a role to play in neutralizing free radicals that damage the body. These free radicals are considered as waste produced by the body itself, but would also come from the outside through combustion smoke, chemicals, dust, etc. These compounds with antioxidant properties are vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and carotenoids. It is perhaps for this reason that the foods proposed in a detox cure are also the richest in vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and carotenoids.

Forbidden foods

Foods that are forbidden during a detox diet are those that increase toxins in the body and "clog" the organs. Here is a non-exhaustive list:
  • Refined sugars
  • Fats
  • Cigarette
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Animal products: especially red meat and sometimes dairy products
  • Processed foods
Foods to be avoided during detox diets, such as red meat for example, or even alcohol, have been scientifically proven to have a negative impact on health. It is therefore normal to advise against eating them on a daily basis and not just for a few days.

Advantages and disadvantages

The positive points of the lemon detox diet

  • Rich in fiber
  • Good contribution in antioxidants and micro nutrients
  • Very short duration
  • Feeling of well being
  • Requires little cooking
  • Easy to understand and apply

The negative points of the detox diet

  • Very restrictive and hypocaloric
  • Lack of proteins
  • Frequent feeling of hunger
  • Monotonous and difficult to maintain in the long term
  • Incompatible with an active social life
  • Dangerous for vulnerable people because it can lead to obsessive eating behaviors

Recommendations and precautions to take

Are there any risks?

Although these cures are often based on a large quantity of vegetables and fruits, it is important to note that they are often too low in calories to reach the recommended intake of vitamins and minerals. The American College of Sports Medicine states that women should consume at least 1,200 calories per day, and men should consume at least 1,800. In addition, a diet containing less than 1,600 calories per day does not appear to meet the recommended intake of nutrients, primarily vitamin C, E, calcium and magnesium. It is therefore not recommended to follow this diet for several days. The weight that is lost will be mostly water because the body drains its glycogen reserves. Finally, protein intake is very low (about 30 g/day) which also leads to muscle wasting.

Is this diet for you?

In general, and whatever your situation, it is not recommended to practice the lemon or fruit juice detox diet for too long. On the other hand, a detox day can be a very good thing when the body requires it. For example, the day after a heavy family meal, there is no harm in eating very lightly to allow the organs to recover and cleanse themselves.

Is this diet compatible with sport?

Yes, it is. This type of diet is not intended to be practiced continuously anyway. If it is better not to do any intense activity on the days of detox, it is recommended to do some sport on the other days. Physical activity helps the body to eliminate toxins and slows down muscle loss caused by overly restrictive diets.

How to avoid gaining weight after a juice detox diet?

If the detox is well done, there is no reason to gain weight afterwards. It is important to understand that weight loss should not be the objective of a detox diet. It should not be practiced for more than two consecutive days and should be followed by a few days of light and predominantly vegetable food.

Our opinion on the flat stomach detox diet

Detox diets are in fact drastic diets, very low in calories and which make you lose a lot of water. The substances called toxins are eliminated regularly but mostly naturally by our body and especially our liver. No single food or nutrient can act on the liver and help it in its functions. The important thing is to have a healthy diet every day, rather than doing a "detox" diet a few times a year for one or two days. On the other hand, a typical "detox" day can be practiced without danger when the body demands it, following a very heavy meal for example. The only important thing is to listen to your body in all circumstances.

Dukan diet

The Dukan diet is one of the most famous high-protein diets for weight loss in the world. It is divided into 3 main phases and allows a spectacular weight loss from the first days of the diet. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases the weight loss does not last. Moreover, this method does not seem to be harmless in the long term.

Characteristics of the Dukan diet :

  • High-protein diet
  • Composed of three main phases and a stabilization phase for life
  • 72 sources of protein are to be consumed at will
  • Duration of the diet according to the number of kilos to be lost
  • Diet very low in fiber and nutrients

The main principles of the diet

This diet is the brainchild of French nutritionist Pierre Dukan. The Dukan method was drafted in the 1970s, so it has been proposed for 40 years. It was in 2000 that Mr. Dukan published a book "I don't know how to lose weight" where the principles of his diet appeared for the first time. The Dukan method is a derivative of high protein diets. It has been followed in France by more than ten million people. The method is now spread throughout the world. The books of the Dukan method have been translated into 15 languages and distributed in 30 countries.

How does the Dukan diet work?

The Dukan diet is divided into 3 main phases to initiate and consolidate weight loss:
  • Attack phase: consists of consuming only proteins to initiate weight loss very quickly. This very restrictive phase lasts 5 days and produces effects similar to those of fasting.
  • Cruising phase: during this phase, there is an alternation between days of pure proteins and days when some green vegetables are allowed in addition to proteins. This phase lasts 1 week per kilo to be lost. If you want to lose 15 kilos, you will have to hold on for 4 months to hope to reach this goal. This phase remains quite restrictive since it does not allow any deviation. Starchy foods, fats, fruits and desserts are forbidden.
  • Consolidation phase: during the consolidation phase, some food categories are reintroduced daily. It is recommended to include one fruit per day, a small portion of starchy foods and a little cheese. This phase should last 10 days per kilo lost. If you have lost 15 kilos, you will need to consolidate for 150 days.
In addition to these 3 periods, there is a stabilization phase that must be continued for life. It includes one day of pure protein per week in addition to a restrictive diet.

How does this diet make you lose weight?
The Dukan diet is very hypocaloric and very limited in terms of the food categories represented. This is why weight loss is rapid and spectacular in the first two phases. The almost exclusive consumption of proteins produces an effect similar to that of fasting and pushes the body to draw on its reserves quickly.

How long does the Dukan diet last?
The duration of the diet depends entirely on the weight to be lost:

Phase And Duration                    
Attack 
  • 5 days
Cruise 
  • 1 week per kilo to be lost
Consolidation 
  • 10 days per kilo lost
Stabilization 
  • For life

The 72 protein foods of the Dukan diet

The Dukan diet revolves around 100 authorized foods, including 72 sources of protein. To which are added a few vegetables in the cruising phase and a greater variety of foods in the consolidation phase.
  • Lean meats
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Seafood
  • Vegetable proteins
  • Dairy with 0% fat
  • Eggs
  • Green vegetables (list of 28)
  • Konjac
  • Goji berries
  • Rapeseed and olive oil

List of forbidden foods in the Dukan diet

This diet is more or less restrictive depending on the phase of the diet. In general, it is recommended to limit the following foods:
  • Fruits
  • Oilseeds
  • Oils and fats other than rapeseed and olive oils
  • Dairy products other than 0% milk
  • Sweets
  • Cookies
  • Viennese pastries
  • Fried food
  • Industrial dishes
  • Starches

Advantages and disadvantages

The positive points of the Dukan diet

  • Rapid weight loss at the start
  • Feeling of satiety
  • Requires little cooking

Negative points of the high-protein diet

  • Limited variety of foods in the first phases
  • Difficult to follow in the long term
  • High risk of deficiencies
  • Very frequent yo-yo effect
  • Unpleasant side effects: fatigue, constipation, bad breath, etc.

Recommendations and precautions to take

Are there any risks?

The Dukan diet involves risks that it is important to take into account before undertaking this method:
  • This diet can induce the yo-yo effect because of the rapid weight loss of the first two weeks
  • It is very restrictive and can lead to nutritional deficiencies. It is poor in micronutrients especially in the first two phases. Even though Mr. Dukan recommends taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement, this does not compensate for the lack of nutrients that are naturally found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and which have many protective effects on health
  • People who follow this diet may experience side effects such as headaches, menstrual cycle disturbances, kidney fatigue (which is why you need to drink a lot), orthostatic hypotension due to low sodium intake, night cramps and muscle weakness due to lack of potassium. Also, because of the lack of carbohydrates in the first phase, there is a production of ketone bodies which can cause bad breath, dry mouth, dizziness, nausea and insomnia.
  • Phase 1 is very low in fiber, which increases the risk of constipation. The addition of oat bran, as recommended, may not be sufficient

Is this diet for you?

People on this diet need to be very creative in putting together interesting meals, as the variety of foods on this diet is low. One may also be inclined to isolate oneself to eat, which is generally not desirable. On the other hand, followers of this diet can make their lives easier by buying food products stamped "Dukan diet", such as oat bran cookies and sugar-free ketchup. Whatever the objective, this type of diet is not recommended.

Is this diet compatible with sport?

Mr. Dukan almost never encourages sport, although it is essential. On the one hand to avoid muscle wasting linked to rapid weight loss and on the other hand to consolidate the results obtained by the diet. It is recommended to practice at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day.

How can I keep the weight off?

Despite a lifelong stabilization phase, the Dukan diet leads to a regaining of the weight lost in less than 5 years and in 80 to 95% of cases. The weight loss is often far too brutal to be physiologically sustainable.

 Dukan diet: Our opinion

The danger of this diet has, for several years, been highlighted by many health professionals. The almost exclusive consumption of proteins is dangerous for the health of the kidneys and the body in general. The absence of fiber and micronutrients can also lead to deficiencies and sometimes have very serious consequences (intestinal obstruction, anemia, etc.). At no time does this method advocate good eating habits: listening to one's eating sensations, physical activity, healthy cooking, etc. Finally, this diet leads to a regaining of the lost weight almost systematically. It is not uncommon to regain even more weight than that lost during the long months of dieting. I strongly advise against the Dukan diet for people who want to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Dr. Phil's diet

In a nutshell

Weight loss
  • Possible in the short term, less likely in the long term
Choice of foods
  • Varied
In practice
  • Difficult to follow. Lots of information to digest and behavioral changes to make.
Attention
  • Too strict in terms of portions of bread and substitutes.
  • Risk of too much caloric restriction for some individuals, especially men.
  • Recommendation of natural products and supplements that are not effective for weight loss.
 

The origins

Phillip McGraw is the author of several best-sellers as well as the host of the American TV show Dr. Phil. His behaviourist thinking and simplistic approach have made him one of the best known and most listened to psychologists in North America1. Following his numerous interventions with obese patients, Dr. Phil believes he has discovered the factors that give the best results in the treatment of this health problem. He decided to share his knowledge with a wider audience. His goal: to help people regain a healthy lifestyle and a healthy weight.

The main principles

The objectives

  • Permanent weight loss
  • Improvement of the quality of life
  • Decrease in morbidity caused by obesity

The main principles

Dr. Phil's weight loss program has seven keys. It is based in part on the cognitive-behavioral approach, which aims to change habits without looking for the cause of undesirable behaviors.

First key: right thinking

First and foremost, it is important to be aware of your "own truth". The process of losing weight is much more difficult when you don't believe in your ability to achieve your goals and when you see yourself in a negative light. Dr. Phil suggests that you evaluate your "inner monologue", become aware of your erroneous thoughts and confront them.

Second key: emotional healing

Some people turn to food when they feel strong emotions, whether it's happiness, sadness or stress. In order to avoid overeating and the weight gain that comes with it, it is necessary to manage these emotions. Dr. Phil calls this "emotional control": learning to control your reactions to situations that provoke strong emotions. You must then find another way to release your tensions.

Third key: a winning environment

In order to put all the chances on your side, Dr. Phil strongly recommends that you avoid temptations, because you cannot succumb to them when they are not at hand. That means eliminating them from your grocery list... and avoiding junk food restaurants.

Fourth key: Craving and Impulse Control

When you have a craving, you may tend to reach for high-calorie foods. For those who want to lose weight, it is essential to manage these moments of crisis. The psychologist suggests distracting yourself by being active: get out of the house, move around, go for a run, etc. Cravings disappear quite quickly when you don't think about them.

Fifth key: high energy expenditure and high efficiency diet

According to Dr. Phil, certain types of food require a fairly high level of effort to prepare, chew and digest, to the point that it reduces their caloric impact. These foods are therefore the basis of the diet model he advocates. It should be noted that he does not, however, encourage banning "pleasure" foods forever. The notion of portions is approached in a simplified manner by using the distribution of foods on the plate. This way, it is not necessary to weigh the food you eat.

Characteristics of high energy expenditure foods
  • They take time and effort to prepare.
  • They require a lot of chewing and energy to digest.
  • They cannot be swallowed quickly.
  • They do not fall into the category of convenience foods.

Characteristics of low energy foods
  • They are convenient, accessible and made to be swallowed quickly.
  • They encourage fast, uncontrolled eating.
  • They require little or no preparation.
  • They require no chewing effort.
  • They melt in the mouth.
  • They can be easily consumed directly from the package or container.

Foods to choose from and foods to reduce or avoid

Food groups ,High energy expenditure Preferred

  • Starchy foods 2 to 3 servings
    • Whole grain bread
    • High fibre breakfast cereals
    • Cooked oatmeal
    • Cooked whole grains (bulgur, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, barley, or millet)
    • Cooked pasta (whole wheat, kamut or spelt)
    • Rye, multigrain or whole wheat crackers
    • Homemade bran muffin
    • Whole wheat pita bread
    • Whole wheat or multigrain bagel
    • Whole wheat or spelt hot dog or hamburger buns
    • Whole wheat kaiser bread
  • Meat and Alternatives 3 servings
    • Lean meats (veal, pork, lamb, beef)
    • Fish and seafood
    • Eggs
    • Legumes
    • Tofu, tempeh
  • Dairy products 2 servings
    • Milk
    • Yogurt
    • Soy beverage
    • Low-fat or fat-free ice milk
  • Fat 1 serving
    • Peanut, safflower, canola, flax, sesame, sunflower, olive, vegetable oils and trans fat free margarine (1 tbsp)
    • Nuts and seeds: almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, pistachios
    • Regular or low-calorie salad dressings
  • Fruit 2 servings
    • All fresh fruit and sugar-free fruit juices
  • Vegetables 4 servings
    • All fresh vegetables
  • Other
    • Sweetened soft drinks and lemonades with sweeteners
    • Meal replacements (less than 240 calories per serving mixed with milk)
    • Health bar (less than 140 calories per bar)
    • Coffee, tea, herbal tea, soup broth
a) One serving of starch is the size of a tennis ball or the volume of a hand cup.
b) One serving of meat and alternatives is the size of the palm of your hand.
c) One serving of dairy products is the size of two tennis balls one on top of the other.
d) One serving of fat is the size of one inch or two inches if the product is low calorie.
e) One serving of fruit is the size of a tennis ball.
f) One serving of vegetables is the size of a tennis ball.

Food groups Low energy Reduce or avoid

  • Starchy foods
    • White flour bread (sliced, hamburger or hot dog bread, baguette, croissant, pita, bagel, etc.)
    • White flour crackers and croutons
    • White flour tortillas and pizza crusts
    • White pasta (spaghetti, macaroni, lasagna, etc.)
    • Couscous
    • Instant or pre-cooked white rice
    • Risotto
    • Rice vermicelli
    • Gnocchi
    • Sweet cereals
    • Cream of wheat
    • Tapioca
    • Pancakes
    • Croissant
    • White flour English muffin
    • Waffles
  • Meat and Alternatives
    • Fatty meats
    • Breaded fish, seafood and chicken
    • Deli meats, sausages, bacon
    • Fried eggs
  • Dairy products
    • Whole milk, whole yogurt, full fat cheese, cream, ice cream, chocolate milk, dip
    • Fats
    • Almonds, dry roasted or in oil, salted, flavored
    • Unshelled nuts and seeds
    • Butter, margarine, vegetable shortening
  • Fruits
    • Canned or frozen fruit, sweetened
    • Sweetened fruit juices
  • Vegetables
    • Canned or frozen vegetables in sauce
    • Creamed corn
    • Potatoes in Normandy style, au gratin, mashed, fried, fried, in chips
    • Vegetables in sauce or dressing
  • Other
    • Beer, wine, hard liquor, soft drinks
    • Frozen meals and fast food
    • Commercial donuts, cookies, buns, pies, cake, muffins
    • Apple butter, honey, maple syrup, candy, sweetened jams and jellies, marshmallows, cheese sticks, pretzels, etc.

Sixth key: exercise

Dr. Phil says that physical activity is the key to keeping the pounds off. The activity chosen should be enjoyable enough to maintain motivation. According to Dr. Phil, any effort to do so should be recognized and appreciated because it is an important step towards the main goal.

Sept key: Circle of support

Dr. Phil recommends surrounding yourself with people who believe in your process and who encourage you. This helps to reinforce your motivation and keep you moving in the right direction. It is important to choose the right people to be with because some people, despite their good will, can be harmful. He also encourages those who follow his diet to report regularly on their progress to significant others.

Other recommendations from Dr. Phil

  • Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement, in addition to vitamin C (200 mg to 500 mg per day), vitamin E (100 IU to 200 IU per day) and calcium (500 mg to 1,000 mg per day).
  • On his website, Dr. Phil sells energy bars, meal replacements and other such products, which he also recommends to help lose weight.
  • When a person is unable to lose weight, he suggests that they take certain supplements that he says are helpful in "countering weight loss resistance.

A typical day's menu

Morning meal
  • Half a grapefruit, bran muffin, skim milk, coffee or tea
  • Snack: sugar-free yogurt and fresh fruit
Lunch
  • Salmon, lettuce and tomato salad, brown rice
Snack
  • fresh grapes
Evening meal
  • Chicken breast, broccoli, steamed yellow squash, small baked potato

Mechanisms of action

Alleged

According to Dr. Phil, integrating these seven keys into our lifestyle is, without a doubt, a guarantee of success for weight loss, but also for reducing the risk of diseases and disorders such as metabolic syndrome. It also helps boost self-esteem.

Dr. Phil suggests that his seven keys require no willpower. Instead, he says, you need to organize your daily life and environment differently. Anyone can lose weight and maintain a healthy weight throughout their life by eating a healthy diet of high energy foods, exercising and recognizing their abilities and qualities.

High-energy foods allow you to reach satiety, generally 20 minutes after the beginning of the meal. This avoids overeating. Many of the high energy expenditure foods contain a lot of fiber, which helps to satisfy hunger and stabilize blood sugar levels.

Of course, this program requires a lot of motivation since the results are more gradual than those of a crash diet. Dr. Phil maintains that the psychological process is at the root of the process. To undertake this new life, the individual must believe in his or her abilities and surround him or herself with good people.

Demonstrated

The cognitive-behavioral approach at the heart of Dr. Phil's weight loss program has been the subject of numerous studies. It has been shown to be effective in the short term, but unfortunately not in the long term. Studies show that almost all people who adopted this approach regained the weight they lost after five years2-3.

On the other hand, the theories that Dr. Phil espouses are not universally accepted in the scientific community. Although he doesn't put it in these specific terms, some of his recommendations are aimed at stabilizing blood sugar levels by limiting high glycemic index (high calorie, high carbohydrate) foods. However, the results of studies on glycemic index and weight loss are sometimes contradictory. One prospective study of men and women found that a high GI diet could lead to an increase in body weight, body fat percentage and waist circumference, particularly in sedentary women. But this study also suggests that physical activity may protect against weight gain induced by a high glycemic index diet4. In another study, which lasted 10 weeks, the authors found no significant difference in weight and fat percentage between the low-glycemic index diet and the high-glycemic index diet. However, the low glycemic index diet did result in a 10% decrease in LDL cholesterol ("bad cholesterol")5.

Dr. Phil recommends taking vitamin C and E supplements. However, the effectiveness of these supplements in preventing or treating several diseases is uncertain.6-9

Dr. Phil contradicts himself when he says that "willpower is not necessary" to succeed in his program. In fact, he states in the same breath that motivation is necessary. Aren't willpower and motivation the same thing?

Several elements of this method - re-evaluation of one's self-judgments, emotional management, physical activity - are likely to reinforce motivation and therefore help in a healthier approach.

Advantages and disadvantages

Satiety and well-being

The foods suggested by Dr. Phil ensure satiety: whole grain products, fruits and vegetables, legumes, lean meats, dairy products. But it's important to look beyond the three servings of grain products he recommends. In comparison, Canada's Food Guide recommends a minimum of five servings. Eating insufficient amounts of grain products can lead a person to compensate with an excess of carbohydrate-rich foods.

In practice

Dr. Phil's weight loss method can be easily applied in everyday life, whether at home, at work or in restaurants. His book explains in detail each of the seven keys to the program. He also provides a comprehensive list of high and low energy foods.

The most complex part of this method is the psychological aspect. The person who wishes to adhere to this program must undertake a whole process of behavioral changes before reaching his or her weight loss goal. A lot of awareness and reflection is necessary to really adhere to the seven keys to success.

Weight loss

The method proposed by Dr. Phil can lead to weight loss. However, this method has not been the subject of either short or long term studies. Therefore, we cannot conclude that it is effective.

Attention
  • The restriction is severe as far as grain products are concerned.
  • As for the supplements that he recommends to help lose weight, they are not supported by any scientific reference showing their effectiveness beyond any doubt.
  • Dr. Phil's diet is a "one size fits all" diet: it does not take into account the genetic differences between individuals, which require adapted nutritional needs.

Our comment

Dr. Phillip McGraw's weight loss program has the advantage of not only focusing on dietary changes and exercise to lose weight. It also incorporates behavioral observation and positive reinforcement. But I doubt the effectiveness of this program, especially if it is only followed from the book. There is too much information to digest and too many steps to take, psychologically speaking, for it to be done without supervision.

The acid-base diet

In brief

The acid-base diet is based on the premise that the excessive acidity of our blood could be the cause of many ailments (fatigue, osteoporosis, high blood pressure ...). It therefore aims to limit acidifying foods and to regularly consume alkalizing foods.

Weight loss
  • This is not the goal
Choice of foods
  • Very varied
In practice
  • Easy to follow as long as you have a checklist of foods to eat
Warning
  • Not recommended for children, pregnant and nursing women.

The origins of the acid-base diet

Therapists Franz Xaver Mayr (1875-1965) and Howard Hay (1866-1940) were among the first to formulate holistic doctrines integrating the concept of acid-base balance supported by blood pH determination techniques. In the last three decades, it is mainly the works of Dr. Catherine Kousmine and Christopher Vasey that have made this concept known.

The main principles of the acid-base diet

This diet is based on the hypothesis that a disturbed acid-base balance (chronic low-level acidosis) would lead to fatigue and a decrease in the body's activity.

The authors of this diet recommend that you measure your blood pH with urine strips once a day.

In case of chronic low-level acidosis, this diet recommends to:
  1. Choose a predominantly alkaline diet.
  2. Start a lemon cure to alkalize yourself
  3. Oxygenate yourself with regular physical activity
  4. Take alkaline citrate supplements: only for people who are unable to incorporate alkaline foods into their diet

Authorized foods

Generally speaking, the more protein a food contains, the more acidic it is. However, there is a great deal of controversy surrounding the classification of foods according to their acidifying or alkalifying characteristics. This is why there are several acid/alkaline classifications. For our part, we have chosen the classification of nutritionist Susan Brown, co-author of the book The Acid-Alkaline Food Guide11 . She based her classification on the scientific publications of numerous specialists in the field (Remer, Manz, Frassetto and Jaffe).

Majority alkaline food groups
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Spices and herbs
  • Almonds and seeds
Majority acidic food groups
  • Meat and Alternatives (except nuts and seeds)
  • Milk and Alternatives
  • Breads and Alternatives
  • Processed products and desserts
  • Beverages containing caffeine
  • Alcohol

How the acid-base diet keeps you in shape?

Too much consumption of acid-forming foods (meat, sugar, starches, coffee, alcohol) combined with too little consumption of alkalizing foods (fruits and vegetables, nuts, nuts and seeds) results in chronic low-level acidosis. This can lead to a variety of problems such as osteoporosis, hypertension, loss of muscle tissue and sleep disturbances, according to proponents of the acid-base balance diet.

By consuming foods that are either alkalizing or acidifying, depending on your general state of health, you may be able to improve your well-being and no longer experience the symptoms listed above.

To date, no serious scientific study has really supported these hypotheses, so it is by experimenting with the diet that you will be able to determine if it will bring you a better well-being or not.

A typical day on the acid-base diet

Breakfast
  • Buckwheat pancake
  • Raw sugar
  • Almond butter
  • Raspberries
  • Green tea
Breakfast
  • Tomatoes with sesame oil and pumpkin seeds
  • Brown rice
  • Salmon steak
  • Mineral water
Snack
  • 3 figs
Dinner
  • Cauliflower soup
  • Wholemeal bread
  • Butter
  • 1 egg
  • Milk

The advantages and disadvantages of the acid-base diet

Advantages

Overall food balance is respected

Since all food families are represented in this diet, satiety is generally good and allows you to maintain a balanced diet with vegetables, starchy foods and a source of protein at each meal.

Easy to follow

Relatively easy to follow if you really enjoy fruits, vegetables, nuts, shell fruits (almonds, cashews, etc.) and seeds, as these are the most alkalizing foods.

The challenge, for some at least, will be to cut down on coffee, alcohol, chips or soft drinks. These are all very acid-forming foods and beverages. It is important, from an acid-base balance perspective, to keep their consumption to a minimum.

Disadvantages

Can disrupt digestion

The introduction of many vegetables and whole starchy foods can disturb digestion in people who are not used to them. Remember to add these foods gradually to your diet.

My opinion on this diet

Today, there is a serious lack of proven scientific studies highlighting the danger of chronic low-level acidosis (apart from osteoporosis) and therefore the usefulness of such a diet. However, since it consists of all the food families in reasonable quantities, this diet is not to be discouraged and can even help to re-establish the framework of an overall balanced diet.

Fiber diet

In brief

Weight loss
  • Yes and quite fast in the short term
Choice of foods
  • Acceptable variety
In practice
  • Short term: effective
  • In the medium and long term: not very effective
Caution
  • Risk of yo-yo effect
  • May cause irritation of the intestine
  • Increase in flatulence

Origins

The author of this diet, Audrey Eyton, is originally from England. Trained as a journalist and editor for Women's magazine in the 1970s, she realized that the desire to lose weight was central to many people's lives, but that most diets simply did not work. As a result, she created Slimming magazine and published the book The F Plan Fiber Diet.

The F-Plan Fiber Diet is based on the work of Dr. Denis Burkitt, a surgeon who studied the role of fiber in health by comparing the diseases found in Africans with high-fiber diets to those of Western populations with low-fiber diets.

The F Plan Fiber Diet sold 5 million copies in a very short time after its release in bookstores in the early 1980s. Some say that Audrey Eyton had a major influence on British eating habits.

Twenty-four years later, she published another book, The F2 Diet, a weight loss diet still rich in fiber and vegetarian in nature, in order to counteract the wave of popularity of diets rich in animal proteins but low in fiber, such as the Atkins diet, which she considered dangerous.

The goals

  • Lose weight;
  • Promote the prevention of colon cancer;
  • Lower bad cholesterol levels;
  • Lower blood sugar levels;
  • Fight constipation;
  • Prevent hemorrhoids;
  • Counteract the appearance of gallstones.

Example of a daily menu at 1250 calories

Morning

Half of the Fibre Mix
30 cl of skim milk

Noon

Vegetable Pilaf
50 g of fromage blanc with 0% fat
Red fruit salad

Evening

Half an hour before the meal
The second half of the Fiber Mix
Then for the meal
Cutlet (125g)
Spinach cake
Pineapple dessert

Mechanisms of action

Alleged

The high fiber content of this diet fills the stomach more, and for a longer period of time. This means that you feel fuller more quickly, which helps you stop eating sooner and, at the same time, you consume fewer calories. Thanks to the fiber eliminated in the stool, we absorb fewer calories.

The fiber diet also helps you lose weight by limiting snacking, because fiber is very filling.

Fiber-rich foods can prevent heartburn, which leads us to eat quickly and a lot. The fact that fiber-rich foods stay in the stomach longer means that you rarely feel like you have an empty stomach.

Because of its high fiber content, this diet prevents constipation, hemorrhoids, gallstones and colorectal cancer, while helping to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Demonstrated

Not all types of fiber have an effect on satiety, calorie intake and weight loss1. It seems that soluble fibers, such as inulin from chicory, beta-glucan from oats and psyllium, have the most significant effect on these parameters2,3.

The weight loss caused by this diet is not only due to the effect of the soluble fibers of the diet, but first and foremost, to the caloric deficit that it proposes.

It is also true that a high-fiber diet helps prevent constipation and hemorrhoids.

It is also likely that a diet high in fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help prevent colorectal cancer, not only because of the fiber, but also because these foods contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help prevent this type of cancer.  

Most diets that result in weight loss can help prevent gallstones, as obesity is a major risk factor for gallstones. However, losing weight too quickly or repeated cycles of weight loss and regain can increase the risk of gallstones. It is therefore important to lose weight slowly and gradually, without haste or impatience.

As for the effect of fiber on cholesterol and blood sugar levels, it is mainly soluble fiber and not insoluble fiber.

Advantages and disadvantages

Satiety and well-being

The high fiber content of this diet may contribute to a quicker and longer feeling of satiety, thus helping to eat less and lose weight. On the other hand, the recommended amount of calories according to gender and level of physical activity is too low in this diet, which can lead to stubborn hunger and rapid weight gain.

In practice

The diet is quite easy to follow at home or away from home, as long as you follow the basic principles and carry the Fiber Blend with you.

In the medium term, however, you may get tired of consuming so much fiber, because in the long run it may be difficult to reach the recommended 35 to 50g of fiber per day.

Weight loss

This diet has not been clinically studied, but it is predictable that in the short term it will result in weight loss, mainly because of the low calorie recommendations. It is possible that in the short term, the high fiber content will produce the desired effect, but not in the long term, because it is very difficult to consume so much fiber daily.

This diet does not have a maintenance phase. It is therefore very likely that you will return to your old habits once you have reached your weight loss goal.

Attention

  • This diet could induce the yo-yo effect because of the relatively rapid weight loss it causes, the restrictions in food choice and the fact that we have to follow pre-established menus that can, over time, take away the pleasure of eating essential to a healthy balanced nutrition through variety and satisfaction of our food tastes in a moderate way;
  • The high amount of fiber is not suitable for people with irritated intestines;
  • The high amount of fiber is not suitable for people with irritated intestines; People who follow this diet may experience an increase in flatulence in the first few weeks of following this diet;
  • It is absolutely important to drink a lot of water while following such a diet, because of the high fiber content.

Our comment

The F plan Fibre diet has an interesting and beneficial aspect, namely a high fibre content, which is recognized as having several positive effects on health. However, it is too low-calorie, not personalized and does not offer long-term solutions for weight maintenance. 

Fit for Life Diet

In a nutshell

Weight loss
  • Fast
Choice of foods
  • Little variety
In practice
  • Relatively easy in the short term, difficult in the long term
Caution
  • Not recommended for children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, the elderly and underweight people.
  • Yo-yo effect
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Possible deficiencies in protein, zinc, iron, calcium and vitamin D.
 

The origins

In the 1970s, the designer of this diet, Harvey Diamond, was disillusioned by weight loss diets. He was unable to lose weight in a sustainable way. Under the advice of a healthy friend, he began following the principles of natural hygiene, a holistic approach to health that seeks to restore the body's power of self-healing.


Within a month of changing his diet and lifestyle habits, Harvey Diamond had lost 25 extra pounds. As a result, he gained a lot of energy and a new quality of life.

Convinced, he decided to dedicate his life to the study and promotion of natural health. His first book, entitled Fit for Live, was published in 1985.

Fit For Life is one of the most popular diets of the last decades: 12 million copies of the first book have been sold worldwide. This diet is based on the principles of natural hygiene and is strongly inspired by Dr. William Hay's dissociated diet and Herbert M. Shelton's food combinations diet.

The main principles

The objectives

  • Lose weight.
  • Eliminate toxins.
  • Increase vital energy.
  • Prevent diseases and obesity.

The main lines

The Fit for Life diet is based on the principles of natural hygiene according to which the human body is able to purify, heal and maintain itself1. Thus, by eating in a way that respects the natural functioning of the body, we can prevent diseases and obesity.

It is not so much what you eat, but how and when you eat it that is important.

In this diet, it is recommended to avoid eating too many food groups (meat and substitutes, fruits and vegetables, grain products...) at the same time. For example, it is recommended to consume only fruits and fruit juices from 4 a.m. to noon to respect the body's waste elimination cycle.

It is suggested to consume 70% of high water content foods (fruits, vegetables, fresh juices) and 30% of "concentrated" foods (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, seeds, grain products). Half of these foods should be raw and the other half cooked.

Basic principles of Fit for Life

  • Fruit should be eaten on an empty stomach only (20 to 30 minutes before a meal or 2 to 4 hours after).
  • Concentrated foods (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, grain products) are eaten only with vegetables and sprouts.
  • Only one "concentrated" food per meal is allowed.
  • Foods are eaten according to the body's cycles.

The three cycles of the body

  • From 4 a.m. to noon: cycle of elimination of body waste.
  • From noon to 8 p.m.: cycle of consumption (ingestion and digestion).
  • 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.: assimilation cycle (absorption and use).

  • Morning: Fresh fruit and fruit juice
  • Lunch: Fresh vegetable juice and salads
  • Steamed vegetables, peanuts and raw seeds
  • Seeds, bread, potatoes and dried vegetables
  • Evening meals (before 8 p.m.): Meat, chicken, fish, dairy products

Other tips:

  • Listen to your body's needs and desires.
  • Do not let yourself get too hungry.
  • If you are hungry in the morning, eat bananas, as they are filling fruits.
  • Eat melons before other fruits, because they are digested very quickly.
  • It is important to insalivate the juices before swallowing them.
  • Do not eat too much raw onion and garlic. By stimulating the taste buds, they make you want to eat foods that are heavier to digest.
  • If you reduce your consumption of dairy products, replace them with nuts or seeds.
  • Do not eat meat more than once a day and give preference to organic meat.
  • Milk should absolutely be drunk unaccompanied.
  • Greatly reduce the consumption of meat, eggs, dairy products, coffee and alcohol. They would provide more disadvantages than benefits.

Foods to avoid

  • Canned foods
  • Dried fruits if you want to lose weight
  • Foods containing chemical additives or preservatives
  • Vinegar in salads, replace it with lemon juice
  • Carbonated drinks

Mechanisms of action

Alleged

Digestion is the physiological process that requires the greatest amount of energy. It must therefore be facilitated by following the right food combinations.

When eaten with a meal, fruit ferments in the stomach because it stays there too long with other foods. This is why it must be eaten on an empty stomach.

The body cannot digest more than one "concentrated" food at a time. Protein-rich foods require an acidic environment for digestion, while carbohydrate-rich foods require an alkaline environment. By consuming protein-rich foods (poultry, fish, etc.) with carbohydrate-rich foods (bread, fruit, etc.), the environment becomes neutral.

The result: digestion is slow and incomplete. Incomplete digestion leads to putrefaction and fermentation as well as poor waste elimination. We also expose ourselves to store more of what we eat in the form of fat.

Also, the Fit for Life diet allows us to increase the vital energy we have. This energy allows a better use of what we eat and a better elimination of waste.

The body is composed of 70% water. So it makes sense to eat 70% high water content foods to promote waste elimination and thus prevent weight gain and disease.

Demonstrated

There is good evidence that we can digest a mixture of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat) at each meal2. It is even better to combine them to increase our energy level and help the absorption of certain nutrients. In addition, most foods naturally contain more than one macronutrient2.

Fermentation and putrefaction of food is more likely to occur as a result of under chewing, overcooking, food intolerances or overeating.

There is no scientific evidence to support the hypothesis that the body burns calories more easily when consumed in certain food combinations.

A typical day's menu

Morning meal
  • A large glass of fresh juice (1 to 2 cups, 250 ml to 500 ml)
  • A variety of fruits
Lunch
  • Fresh vegetable juice
  • A large salad with sprouted lentils
  • Whole grain bread with butter
Evening meal
  • A large salad
  • Vegetable soup
  • Seasoned chicken

Advantages and disadvantages

Satiety and well-being

This diet can make you feel hungry, as it limits your daily intake of proteins (meat, legumes, eggs, etc.). The abundance of fruits and vegetables can satiate, but not for long.

This method may be suitable for people with slow digestion. However, it is not recommended for long-term use because of the risk of nutrient deficiencies.

A person with slow digestion should eat six small meals a day, rather than three large ones.

How it works

This method is relatively easy to follow at home, but not so easy when you are away from home. Restaurant meals can be very bland and not very nutritious if you follow the principles of this diet. For example, if you choose to eat chicken, you can only eat it with vegetables on the menu. Sauces, bread, rice, pasta, cheese, wine and desserts should be avoided.

In restaurants as well as at home, restrictions on the composition of meals can lead to monotony.

Weight loss

Two studies have shown that, for the same caloric intake, a diet that respects food combinations such as Fit for Life does not lead to greater weight loss than a balanced diet3,4. Not being able to combine different food groups makes meals rather monotonous and sometimes tasteless. This can lead to eating less and therefore losing weight.

Attention

  • This diet can induce the yo-yo effect because of a rapid weight loss.
  • For some people, eating according to the food combinations could cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
  • The Fit for Life diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies. On the one hand, food combinations reduce the variety of foods that can be eaten at the same meal. On the other hand, several food groups such as dairy products, meat and eggs are not recommended.
  • Due to low protein intake, the diet can lead to muscle wasting and deficiencies in iron, zinc and vitamin B12.
  • Eating little dairy products can lead to calcium and vitamin D deficiencies.
  • This diet is not recommended for children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, the elderly and underweight people.

 My comment

Fit for Life is one of the most restrictive diets I know of. I would not recommend it to anyone. In addition to its high fruit and vegetable intake, its restrictions on food choices make it risky for your health. This diet maintains and creates erroneous beliefs about food, digestion and assimilation.

The fitnext method diet

The fitnext weight loss method is based on a 6 week diet program. Following the first 3 days of detox, a low-calorie diet must be maintained for 6 weeks. This diet favors the consumption of vegetables and excludes a certain number of food categories (dairy products, starchy foods in the evening, etc.).

Characteristics of the fitnext method:

  • 3-day single diet detox phase
  • Complete 6 week method
  • Important calorie restriction
  • Rapid weight loss
  • High risk of deficiencies and weight regain when the method is stopped

The main principles of the fitnext diet

The fitnext method takes place in several phases and allows you to lose weight quickly. This trendy diet gives pride of place to plants and limits the consumption of certain foods such as dairy products, alcohol and simple sugars.

How does the fitnext diet work?

The Fitnext diet is a time-limited diet that lasts 40 days. The first phase lasts 3 days and consists of a monodiet or "detox" phase with a flat stomach. It is possible to skip this phase but it is strongly recommended. Thereafter, the menus include three meals a day and snacks. To follow the method, certain rules must be scrupulously respected.

How does the fitnext diet make you lose weight?

The "detox" phase is present in this diet during the first three days. This phase is necessary to eliminate toxins that can cause fatigue, dull skin and hair, a weakened immune system, digestive problems, etc. The body would be unable to eliminate all these wastes by itself and would need this detoxification treatment to do so.

The rest of the diet is based on very low caloric intake. There is also a complete or partial absence of certain food groups such as grain products, fruits and dairy products. By consuming less energy than is expended, weight loss follows quickly. The time of day when certain foods are consumed (chrononutrition) as well as certain food combinations to be avoided complete the rules that must be respected for weight loss to occur.

How long does the diet last?

It is a 40 day method, that is to say 6 weeks. The detox phase lasts only 3 days and is followed by a less restrictive diet phase for 6 weeks. It is therefore an express weight loss method that is not intended to be adopted over the long term.

For the "detox" phase, the method recommends consuming magnesium sulfate to help the intestines to clean themselves. It should be noted that the human body, and mainly the liver and kidneys, are the key organs in the processing of waste in the body. Even if our body produces waste, it is taken care of by our organs and eliminated naturally. This phase is therefore not necessary.

Foods allowed in a fitnext meal

This weight loss method leaves a very important place to plants, other foods are to be integrated at specific frequencies. Here are some recommendations:
  • Make three meat meals per week: two of white meat and one of red meat
  • Eat two fish or seafood meals per week
  • Include a source of grain products such as pasta, brown or wild rice no more than three times a week and only at lunch
  • Do not combine a source of protein and grain products in the same meal
  • Eat as many vegetables as you want

Forbidden foods

Among the golden rules of the fitnext method, here are a few eating habits that must be avoided:
  • No weighing of food
  • No dairy products or milk
  • No alcohol
  • No carbohydrates after lunch
  • No bread except for the morning meal
  • No coffee or black tea

Advantages and disadvantages of the fitnext single diet

The positive points of the fitnext method

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Requires little cooking

The negative points of the diet

  • Low fiber intake
  • Little protein
  • Restrictive and difficult to follow
  • Incompatible with a fulfilling social life
  • High risk of weight regain and deficiency
  • Does not allow for good eating habits

Recommendations and precautions to take

Are there any risks ?

The Fitnext diet is in fact a very low-calorie diet. Even if it is stated that weighing food is not mandatory, the constitution of the meals with the recommended foods makes it possible to eat much less. The daily energy deficit (in calories), through the choice of foods, allows you to reach your goal and lose weight quickly. However, this very important caloric restriction can be dangerous in the long term and lead to nutrient deficiencies.

No scientific study has been done on the Fitnext diet. It has been widely demonstrated that weight loss requires a negative energy balance, which obviously requires reducing the amount of calories ingested during the day. Since the principles of the Fitnext diet are based on this caloric deficit, we can expect a rapid weight loss. However, these same principles must be perpetuated in the long term to ensure that the weight lost is maintained. If weight loss occurs, it will probably be due to the very low consumption of carbohydrates (grain products and fruit). This loss will be due to a reduction in body water (diuretic effect) rather than to the loss of body fat. In fact, when carbohydrate intake is low, the body uses its low sugar reserves (glycogen) to keep its blood sugar stable. On the other hand, glycogen stores 3 grams of water for every gram of glucose, so weight can drop rapidly. The very low protein intake is also harmful for the maintenance of muscle mass, when the calorie intake is too low the body will draw its energy from the proteins in the muscles. This leads to muscle wasting. Also, there is a risk of deficiency in essential amino acids to build the proteins that make up our muscles, our nails, our hair fibers, etc. In short, the weight indicated on the scale will be lower, but the weight lost will not lead to a healthy situation.

Is this diet for you?

This diet is not recommended. It does not contain enough calories to meet the recommended intake of vitamins and minerals. The American College of Sports Medicine states that women should consume at least 1200 calories per day, and men should consume at least 1800 calories per day to meet all vitamin and mineral requirements. In addition, a diet containing less than 1600 kcal per day does not appear to meet the recommended intakes of nutrients, primarily vitamin C, E, calcium and magnesium. The main consequence of very low calorie consumption is the slowing down of the basal metabolic rate, which hinders long-term weight loss, because the body perceives this low calorie intake as a threat and slows down in order to put itself in a state of "starvation". In addition, since dairy products are completely excluded, there is a risk of low calcium and vitamin D intakes. It is therefore important to make sure to replace them with other sources.

Is this diet compatible with sports?

In general, it is always recommended to practice physical activity. This method must be combined with sports to optimize the results. Sport in parallel with this method helps to slow down muscle loss which, as we have seen, is often induced by an overly restrictive low-calorie diet. However, be careful, sport and important calorie restriction do not always go well together. To avoid hypoglycemia, exhaustion and accidents, make sure you have a snack.

How can I keep the weight off?

With this type of method, weight regain is inevitable in most cases. Especially if the diet becomes anarchic once the 6 weeks are over. To keep the weight off, it is necessary to consider eating a more varied diet and adopting good eating habits in the long term. A balanced diet is not a matter of 40 days.

Our opinion on the fitnext diet

I do not recommend this diet because it totally excludes certain foods necessary for good health and the risk of deficiencies is very present. Moreover, the rules are too numerous and strict which is not desirable in the medium and long term to reach and maintain a healthy weight. The risks of deficiencies and weight regain after this method are too high. Above all, it does not allow for the development of healthy eating habits.

Snacking: ideas for healthy snacking

Snacking, i.e. eating outside of meals, has become a frequent habit for many French people. And this is not without consequences. Many factors can lead to these situations where we eat without even realizing it. How to better manage these situations? Is it possible to snack in a healthy way? This article is here to enlighten you.

Principle: what is snacking?

Snacking consists in taking food, in more or less large quantities, outside of the main meals. In this case, the food intake is automatic, like a reflex: we dip into an open box of chocolates or we eat cheese while preparing the meal, without even paying attention.

Why do we snack?

Several factors can lead to snacking:
  • stress or fatigue ;
  • boredom
  • lack of sleep
  • inactivity;
  • the different emotions that we may feel;
  • the need for comfort, lack ;
  • a feeling of hunger.
The foods taken when we snack are often industrial foods, requiring no preparation such as candy, chocolate, chips, cheese, cold cuts, or salty or sweet cookies. They are often "soft foods", comfort foods.

The advantages and disadvantages of snacking

The advantages

First of all, snacking can bring pleasure, a feeling of well-being or relief. Eating can also reduce a negative emotion or multiply it if it is positive. Eating these "soft foods" can help fill a void or plunge you into good memories related to a particular food.

Snacking can therefore simply do good. But this relief is only short term.

The disadvantages

The foods consumed during these moments are rather fatty and/or sweet, they do not necessarily meet energy needs. These snacks can therefore increase the total caloric intake for the day or unbalance the distribution between the different nutrients.

If snacking is almost a daily occurrence, it can have several long-term consequences: weight gain, disruption of meal rhythm and eating sensations, disruption of the digestive system, guilt or even degradation of self-image.

Recommendations and precautions

How can we limit snacking?

First of all, to avoid snacking out of hunger or craving, it is important to eat complete meals and to eat them with pleasure. Do not eliminate starchy foods from your plate. They are essential for the proper functioning of our body and meet our energy needs. Accompany them with vegetables and animal or vegetable proteins to have a complete meal that meets your needs.

Don't eliminate all fats when preparing these meals either. Our bodies need them, so remember to vary them.

If you tend to eat between meals out of boredom or stress, keep yourself busy with leisure activities that make you feel good. Reading, meditation, physical activity, gardening, drawing or any other activity where you find pleasure and comfort.

However, it is also important to listen to yourself and not try to go against these cravings because of the risk of snacking much more afterwards.

So, how to snack better?

Eating between meals is not necessarily a bad thing, and can help us deal with a situation or an emotion. It all depends on how you snack.

It can be interesting to allow yourself to snack while enjoying eating even in these situations. To do this, you have to concentrate on what you are eating, choose a food that you like, taste it and enjoy it. In most cases, being fully present during the snacking will reduce the amount of food consumed and the frequency of snacking.

Our advice

In reality, eating between meals can be very positive and an ally in daily life, as long as you have real snacks, with full awareness and no more indiscriminate nibbling. These snacks, well composed, have their place in the rhythm of meals and can represent 10% of total energy intake.

Here are some ideas for a healthy snack:
  • A handful of oleaginous fruits: almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios etc. which will provide very good lipids, calcium and energy;
  • A mix of dried fruits, which will provide an energy boost because of their quick sugar content;
  • Fresh fruit cut into small pieces to nibble on gently. They will also bring fast sugars but also vitamins and minerals;
  • Fresh raw vegetable sticks;
  • A dairy product such as cottage cheese or petit-suisse;
  • A slice of bread sweetened with chocolate or salted with a piece of cheese, for a longer energy intake thanks to the slow sugars;
  • A handful of plain cereals with a few chocolate chips;
  • A smoothie bowl: mix 100 g of cottage cheese with 125 g of frozen fruit and a little honey;
  • A quick bowl cake: mix 1 egg, 30 g of flour, 100 g of compote with no added sugar, 1 teaspoon of yeast and put it all in the microwave for 3 minutes. Place a square of chocolate on top of the cake when it comes out of the microwave;
  • A slice of banana bread or other low sugar homemade cake.

The important thing is to listen to yourself and to take pleasure in each food intake, even if it is a snack.

Blood type diet

In brief

Weight loss
  • Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
Choice of foods
  • Limited variety for groups O, A and B.
In practice
  • Requires a lot of motivation to follow, especially for groups A and O.
  • Moderately easy to follow in the short term, difficult in the long term.
  • Quite difficult to follow outside the home.
Attention
  • Depending on the group, possible deficits.
  • Group O: Calcium, vitamin D, cereal fiber, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B9
  • Group A: Iron, proteins
  • Group B: cereal fibers, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B9, magnesium
  • Group AB: in principle, none

The origins

This diet was developed by the American James D'Adamo who, after studying naturopathy in the late 1950s, did internships in European health spas. It is customary in these places to serve a low-fat vegetarian diet, and D'Adamo could not help but observe how differently the spa-goers reacted to it. Some even seemed to be worse off. He deduced that there must be a way to determine the different nutritional needs of patients. Based on the principle that blood is the main carrier of nutrients, he decided to have his patients' blood types analyzed and to study the effect of different dietary protocols on them. In 1980, he published a book entitled One Man's Food in which he compiled his observations and nutritional advice. (The title comes from the expression "one man's food is another man's poison").

However, it was James D'Adamo's son Peter, who also has a degree in naturopathy, who developed the hypothesis and brought it to a wide audience. In 1996, he published the book Eat right 4 your type, translated in 1999 under the title 4 blood types, 4 diets.

The main principles

The objectives

  • Prevent several viral and bacterial diseases.
  • Lose weight.
  • Fight against cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, protect the liver, etc.
  • Slow down the aging process of the body.

The main lines

  • The hypothesis of this diet is based on the fact that each type of blood has a particular chemical composition, including different antigens. According to Adamo's hypothesis, certain chemical compounds found in foods could stimulate these antigens to produce antibodies, causing damage to the body. Therefore, the diet recommends eating only the foods that are appropriate for our blood type.
  • Blood types have differentiated over the millennia. Briefly, according to this hypothesis, people with blood type O - the only blood type present in the time of hunter-gatherers - have a low tolerance for grain products and should eat a lot of animal protein. Blood type A, which appeared at the time of the discovery of agriculture, calls for a vegetarian diet. Men and women of blood type B - first found among nomadic peoples - could eat a wider variety of foods, as could those of blood type AB.
  • In all four blood groups, certain foods are to be avoided (based on their chemical composition), even if they are healthy. For example, people with type B and AB can eat turkey but not chicken!
  • For each blood type, foods are classified as follows: beneficial, neutral, avoid. The recommendation is to eat mostly the very beneficial foods, very few neutral foods and no foods to avoid.
  • Finally, all blood types should ban pork, smoked salmon, rhubarb, wheat bran, coconut, ice cream, corn and peanut oils, black pepper and vinegar.
  • In addition to telling us which foods to eat and which to put aside, Peter D'Adamo describes temperament according to blood type, the physical activities to be favoured, the dietary supplements to be taken and even the lifestyle to be adopted.

Advantages and disadvantages

Satiety and well-being

When followed closely, the blood type diet includes enough protein source food choices to achieve satiety - provided, of course, that you like and know how to prepare the foods allowed.

However, eating according to your blood type, especially for those with type O and type A blood, requires you to deprive yourself of frequently consumed foods and to become familiar with many new foods, which can be difficult.

In practice

With this diet, one cannot follow one's own tastes since many popular foods are banned, which may explain the high dropout rate I have seen. A further complication is that individuals in the same family may not have the same blood type. How then do you prepare meals that are suitable for everyone? Mission impossible.

Weight loss

People who follow this diet often lose weight. According to nutritionists, this is not due to the elimination of incompatible foods, but rather to a lower calorie consumption due to the limited choice of foods allowed.

Attention

  • Nutritional deficiencies. Except for people of group AB, this diet can lead to several deficiencies if one does not know the nutritional value of foods. A person in group O, for example, is supposed to avoid cow's milk products, which may lead to a calcium deficiency, unless he or she replaces them with lots of broccoli, Chinese cabbage, almonds and sesame seeds, and rice drink.

Blood Group And Possible deficiencies

O
  • Calcium, vitamin D, cereal fiber, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B9, magnesium
A
  • Iron, proteins
B
  • Cereal fibers, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B9, magnesium
AB
  • In principle, none

Cardiovascular diseases. The diet for group O includes a lot of red meat, which could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer.
Decreased performance. People in Group O who do regular training or endurance activities (cross-country skiing, mountain hiking, etc.) may experience a drop in performance due to low carbohydrate intake.
Lack of fiber. The low intake of grains, and therefore dietary fiber, in the Group O and B diets could lead to constipation and increase the risk of developing certain cancers.
Diabetics. In Group O, the high protein intake could, in the long term, prove problematic for the kidneys, especially in people with diabetes.
Frustration. Many popular foods (e.g. yogurt, cheese, baked goods) can only be consumed in small quantities for certain blood types, which can lead to frustration and a binge that is difficult to control.

Our comment

In the absence of clinical studies clearly demonstrating a positive impact of eating according to one's blood type, I cannot endorse this approach.

Furthermore, what I criticize about this diet is that it does not encourage self-discovery and self-knowledge, because it dictates not only what foods to eat, but also what exercises to do and even what lifestyle to prefer!

The only positive points I find in this diet are that it :

-incentivizes eating unfamiliar foods, which encourages variety;

-restricts the consumption of refined foods.

Canada's Food Guide

Quick Facts

Weight loss
  • This is not the goal, but it does seek to prevent obesity.
Food choices
  • No food prohibitions
Practical
  • Easy to follow

The origins

Canada's Food Guide1 is designed to help people make wise choices about eating well. The latest edition, launched in February 2007, focuses on fruits and vegetables. It also features slightly less grain products, more fish, and more specific serving sizes than the previous version.

Canada's Food Guide was analyzed in great detail starting in 2002. The objective was to update the recommendations of Canadian authorities in light of new scientific knowledge. The analysis included the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), the latest research on diet and health, changing consumption patterns and the food supply. The use of the Guide by health professionals, educators and consumers was also explored.


As a result of this exercise2, Health Canada decided to undertake a revision of the Food Guide to better reflect new realities and health findings related to eating patterns. The results of this analysis were shared with academics and representatives from health professional associations, non-governmental organizations, consumer advocacy groups, the food industry and federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments.

The revision of the Guide began in 2004 and was conducted in an open and transparent manner. Throughout the process, several public consultation sessions were held. In total, more than 7,000 people were consulted before the publication of the new guide entitled Eating Well with the Food Guide.

A little history...

This is the eighth version of Canada's Food Guide. The first edition was launched in 1942 in the midst of World War II and was called Canada's Official Food Rules. Because of food rationing at the time, the authorities felt it was necessary to guide the population in their food choices to avoid deficiencies3. The benefits of whole grains were already recognized at the time, as the Guide recommended one serving of whole grain cereals and four to six slices of bread (white or brown) per day. Meat and fats were well publicized. Red meat was encouraged, as well as a weekly serving of liver or other organ meats, not to mention butter on bread! The potato also played a major role in the diet: it had to be part of the daily menu.

In 1961, the expression "dietary rules" was replaced by "food guide". The recommendations were more flexible. A greater variety of foods was also suggested. In 1977, for the first time, the four food groups were illustrated around a sun, with each group occupying one quarter of the sun.

The rainbow chart that we still know today appeared in 1992 in the Food Guide to Healthy Eating. It represents the relative importance of each group, in portions. Grain products occupied the widest band of the rainbow. This version of Canada's Food Guide was challenged by many in the health community, particularly because of the overemphasis on meat and dairy products.

The four food groups

To create the four categories, the food groups in the Guide were classified using the following criteria5 
  • a single agricultural origin;
  • the traditional classification of foods
  • how people use the food (legumes were placed in the Meat and Alternatives group because they are often used as a substitute for meat).
In this guide, the Vegetables and Fruit group represents the main arc, illustrating that vegetables and fruit should be consumed in greater quantities than the other food groups. This is followed by grain products, then the milk and alternatives group. Meat and Alternatives comes last.

The Guide also includes recommendations and tips on what foods to choose from each food group. Here are some of them1 :

Food Groups Tips

Vegetables and Fruit
  • Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable a day.
  • Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.
  • Choose vegetables and fruit over juice.
Grain Products
  • Eat at least half of your grain products as whole grains.
  • Choose grain products that are lower in fat, sugar or salt.
Milk and alternatives
  • Drink milk every day (skim, 1% M.F. or 2% M.F.).
  • Choose lower-fat milk alternatives.
Meat and Alternatives
  • Eat meat alternatives such as legumes and tofu often.
  • Eat at least two servings of fish each week.
  • Choose lean meats and alternatives prepared with little or no fat.

Other general dietary recommendations

  • Choose water to quench your thirst.
  • Eat as wide a variety of foods as possible.
  • Consume a small amount, 30 ml to 45 ml, of unsaturated fat each day. This includes oils used for cooking, salad dressings, non-hydrogenated margarine and mayonnaise.
  • For oils, opt for olive, canola and soybean oil.
  • Limit butter, lard, hard margarines (trans fat) and shortening (trans fat).
  • Limit foods and beverages that are high in calories, fat, sugar or salt: donuts, muffins, cookies, granola bars, chocolate, candy, ice cream, frozen desserts, chips, nachos and other salty snacks, French fries, cakes, pastries, alcohol, fruit-flavoured drinks, soft drinks, sports and energy drinks, and sweetened hot or cold drinks.
For parents, the Guide suggests serving small meals and snacks and not restricting fatty foods such as whole milk and cheese, as children need them for growth. It was also mentioned that they should be set a good example regarding eating habits.

For women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding, the Guide advises taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement containing folic acid. For pregnant women, this supplement should also contain iron.

For adults 50 years of age and older, it recommends taking a supplement of 400 IU (10 µg) of vitamin D per day.

Why look at the Food Guide?

Each food category in Canada's Food Guide provides different nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fibre and others). That's why we need to eat foods from all four food groups. According to Canadian authorities, the recommended serving sizes for each gender and age group would allow us to meet our nutrient needs, called Dietary Reference Intakes6 (DRIs).

Are we meeting our needs?

If certain foods or an entire category of foods must be avoided - for reasons of allergy, intolerance or aversion - the loss of the nutrients involved must be made up, either by eating other foods or by supplementing.

By following the serving sizes as well as the advice that accompanies each food group - eating two fish meals a week, for example, choosing legumes as a source of protein, or reducing sugar - Canadians may be better able to prevent obesity and a number of diseases including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis.

The Food Guide is based on extensive scientific literature and nutritional analysis of numerous simulated menus, combining different foods in various amounts. As a result of these analyses, the authors of the Food Guide have succeeded in designing a food pattern that both satisfies our DRIs6 and actually prevents obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer.

It also allows us to consume the macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) in appropriate proportions (see table). The portions suggested by the Guide represent average quantities according to age and sex; they can therefore be modified upwards if you are very active, or downwards if you wish to lose weight.

A typical day's menu

Here is a typical menu for a 45 year old man5 :

Breakfast
  • 1 large bowl of whole grain cereal (60 g) with 125 mL (1/2 cup) peaches and 30 mL (2 tbsp) nuts
  • 250 mL (1 cup) 2% milk
  • 1 coffee
Snack
  • 250 mL orange juice
Lunch
  • 75 g marinated chicken breast with 250 mL (1 cup) whole wheat couscous and 125 mL green beans with a little margarine
  • 1 apple
  • water
Dinner
  • 110 g (3 ½ oz) pork roast
  • 250 mL (1 cup) rice pilaf
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) steamed asparagus
  • 250 mL (1 cup) romaine lettuce with 125 mL (1/2 cup) tomato chunks, cucumber and celery with dressing
  • water
Snack
  • 2 pieces of whole wheat toast with margarine
  • 1 banana
  • 250 mL (1 cup) 2% milk

How do I use it?

If you have access to the Internet, you will find a section on the home page of the Food Guide1 called How to Use the Food Guide. It tells you how to count the Food Guide Servings in a meal. There are also tips for meal planning, grocery shopping, snacking, eating out and information on reading labels.

The section How to Choose Your Food - What is a Serving is very interesting, as it gives all the equivalencies for each food group7 , which is not found in the Guide. For example, 30 g of rye patties is equivalent to one serving of grain products and one small pancake.

Advantages and disadvantages

Satiety and well-being

Canada's Food Guide recommends eating more fruits and vegetables and at least half of your grain products as whole grains. This will increase fibre intake, which helps increase satiety (see our Dietary Fibre fact sheet). The portions of the milk and alternatives and meat and alternatives groups are sufficient to provide a good supply of protein, which also helps satisfy hunger.

In practice

Since the Guide does not contain any dietary restrictions, it can easily be integrated into daily life, both at home and away from home. With its wide variety of foods, the Guide takes into account contemporary cultural diversity and can encourage the discovery of new foods with different flavours and textures. To achieve this quality of nutrition, however, most meals must be prepared at home, using fresh, minimally processed foods.

Weight loss

Although the new Food Guide is not aimed at weight loss, it is aimed at preventing obesity. The clarification of the number of servings to be consumed and their volume (according to gender and age group) is certainly in line with this goal, especially since the number of servings of grain products has been reduced and the number of servings of fruits and vegetables has been increased compared to the previous guide.

Some constructive criticism...

Shortcomings

  • The Guide does not pay much attention to the importance of meeting your omega-3 intake from marine and plant sources.
  • It does not emphasize the need to reduce junk food and added sugars.
  • The statement "Health Canada provides advice to limit exposure to mercury in certain fish" could have a negative impact on fish consumption.
  • Potatoes are placed in the vegetable group while they are mostly consumed as a starch alternative to rice or pasta.
  • There are no serving size recommendations for people who are very physically active or for people who are smaller or larger than average.
  • There are no specific recommendations for the consumption of berries - a valuable source of antioxidants - grown in Quebec such as blueberries, cranberries, strawberries and raspberries.
  • There is no guidance on antioxidant-rich foods such as tea, cocoa and wine.
  • There is no encouragement to moderate the consumption of omega-6 fatty acids (corn, sunflower and soybean oils) in processed foods. In most of these products, these omega-6 rich oils are found under the label "vegetable oil"). On the contrary, the Guide recommends soybean oil as a choice of unsaturated oils even though it is rich in omega-6.
  • Caloric intake is high for people 50 years and older. Rather than recommending only a 400 IU vitamin D supplement per day, 500 mg of calcium should have been added. As a result, one less serving of dairy products could have been suggested to reduce the daily caloric intake in this age group.
  • Strengths

The Guide emphasizes food quality.

  • The largest category is now vegetables and fruit (previously bread and grain products).
  • Serving sizes are now defined by age group and gender.
  • Whole grains are encouraged and alternatives to wheat are suggested: quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, barley, oats.
  • Two fatty fish meals per week are recommended, specifying fatty fish (herring, salmon, trout, mackerel, arctic char).
  • Visually, fish and seafood occupy a large place in the meat and alternatives group.
  • By de-emphasizing meat consumption, the Guide gives greater prominence to other sources of protein that are excellent for health (until now, it has been criticized for being in the pay of the meat industry lobby).
  • Smaller portions of meat are recommended, 75 g of cooked meat (about 2.5 oz).
  • Unsaturated oils are preferred every day (30 ml to 45 ml).
  • Soy beverage becomes an alternative to milk.
  • Meat alternatives such as tofu and legumes are recommended often.
  • The Guide is a good tool for any type of eating style (vegetarianism, veganism, Japanese, Indian, etc.).

Our comment

This new Canadian food guide lives up to many of my expectations and those of most nutritionists. I consider it to be the tool of choice for anyone who wants to improve their diet. It is similar to the Mediterranean diet, whose health benefits are no longer in question. However, for people who have certain constraints (health problems, excess weight, limited budget, etc.), it must be adapted and personalized, as well as for people who are very physically active. It remains to be seen whether it will be a tool appreciated by consumers and health professionals. Good work from Health Canada!

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