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Be a skeptic - beware of extreme dieting

It saddened me tonight when my wife shared that an aquaintence of ours had gained most of the weight that she had lost over the past couple of years. Now, this story is hardly newsworthy, but then I think about some of the extreme crash diets that I admit I’ve tested myself but even more troublesome is seeing just how easily MANY people get trapped into similar magical thinking.

Atkins is extreme enough, but with a modification to it, you get “kimkins” or as this wikipedia article states, is a crash diet. More troubling are some of the business aspects behind the scenes when a crazy diet hits it big. You can read more about the Kimkins controversy here.

Kimkins might sound low carb, but it’s really VLCD (very low calorie diet) dressed up as a low carb diet. … and talk about a craze. It made the cover of Women’s World a couple of weeks ago to my complete shock. And more surprising (or sadness if you want my true opinion), is the sheer number of people that flocked to the website to check it out.

I’ve tried this diet because at first it was very appealing to me: lean meats only, little to no fat, healthy fat like olive oil to make your meals work, and low carb veggies. Where this diet failed me personal is its long standing appeal to my lifestyle. I believe in a balanced approach: eating healthy complete meals with exercise. A VLCD could not possibly accomodate my needs as someone who aspires to exercise a minimum of 30 minutes 3 times a week. 800 calories or less per day would not be enough to sustain my energy needs when swimming 1-2 miles per training session.

You may want to lose weight FAST. If this is your goal, before picking up a copy of Women’s World for inspiration, check with your doctor first to discuss your goals. Chances are, they’ll either promote Atkins (because of its effectiveness), OR the GI Diet. In fact, at 475 lbs my doctor recommended above anything else: The GI Diet. Few of the specialists I’ve seen have suggested diet pills like Xenical or a reduced calorie diet. Not one doctor has ever suggested a VLCD. Perhaps there’s a good reason for that?

I once asked the “creator” of Kimkins personally… what is her maintenance diet… as in.. what does she eat now in order to maintain her weight loss without gaining. Interestingly enough, it looked VERY similar to a lower calorie GI-inspired “phase one” food plan.

I’m not sure what irked me more: the fact that her maintance diet is really GI through and through, or her unrelentless promotion of a crash diet only to get to a more healthy option, when in my very humble and honest opinion, this is how a diet should have begun in the first place. The mass market appeal to crash dieting has not died, when I really wish it would.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again… if someone well over 450 lbs who could barely walk 5 years ago, lose 130+ lbs and keep it off 3 years later using the GI diet to accomplish some of his goals, *anyone* can. That’s the big secret of mine: a moderate diet and exercise…. gee, who knew?