The scope of nutrition is always changing. Emerging research on nutrition comes out on a daily basis and can provide justification or disprove information that has been in the public for years. For example, a decade ago eggs were an enemy in a healthy eating plan. Now, eggs are considered part of a healthy lifestyle. In comparison to other sciences such as biology and chemistry, nutrition is much newer and thus research is always revealing new information that will help us understand it better. However, new discoveries are often distorted and “the next great diet miracle” is constantly being exploited to people desperate to lose weight.

Over the years, individuals and corporations capitalize on evolving nutrition research and turn it into the next big diet. After all, dieters have spent close to $40 billion each year on weight loss programs and products. The public saw it with popular low-carb and no carb diets in the 1990s. We now realize that the amounts of fat and protein being recommended in those diets were doing more harm than good for people’s health. Those eating a low carb diet were also missing out on important nutrients such as fiber and B vitamins that are found in whole grain carbohydrates and fruit.

We are a culture based on convenience and through convenience we yearn for a “quick fix” to weight loss. It is due to this “need” that fad diets continue to permeate society, and this past year was no different. Among the latest crazes are the hCG Diet, Raspberry Ketone supplements, and the Paleo Diet.

The hCG Diet
The hCG Diet includes injections or sublingual doses of hCG hormone in combination with following a very low calorie diet. hCG is a hormone that is naturally produced by the placenta during pregnancy. While the FDA has approved it for use in fertility, they do not support it being used for weight control. It is also important to note that the American Medical Association and the Journal of Clinical Nutrition do not consider the supplement safe.

There is no evidence in current scientific research that hCG is an effective supplement for successful weight loss. Studies have not shown that it reduces appetite, nor does the evidence show that people following the diet are losing fat and not lean muscle mass. The main tenant of the hCG diet is that the supplement is taken in conjunction with a very low calorie consumption of about 500 calories per day. This can lead to malnutrition, severe bone and muscle loss, heart and electrolyte irregularities, and in the worst case, death. It is probably the restriction of calories and not the hCG itself that is the reason for the reported weight loss.

Raspberry Ketones
Every year there is a campaign for some sort of “weight loss in a pill.” This past year that pill was raspberry ketones brought into public light by a well-known celebrity doctor. It is a naturally occurring chemical that is found in raspberries which is used in foods, cosmetics and other products as a fragrance or flavoring agent. There has been minimal research on the supplement despite the celebrity doctor’s endorsement of it to “burn fat easier,” and none of the testing has been done on human subjects.

There is some apprehension regarding the safety of raspberry ketones. Their chemical makeup is similar to a chemical stimulant called “synephrine.” Like most stimulants, this can cause jitteriness, an increase in blood pressure and in heart rate. Like hCG, the FDA does not support raspberry ketones as a safe weight loss supplement.

The Paleo Diet
The big diet craze of the moment is the Paleo or Caveman Diet. The diet centers around the idea of eating plants and animal products similar to those our paleolithic ancestors ate. Supporters of the diet believe our bodies today are similar to the first humans, and eating the way they did will mean a healthier body and immune system.

The problems are several. For one, the diet excludes dairy and many types of grains that the author of the diet, Loren Cordain, PhD says, “our current genome has not adapted to.” Yet, any diet that excludes entire food groups usually leads to a host of health problems and deficiencies. In a country that is deficient in calcium and vitamin D it would be against better judgment to eliminate the main source of these two nutrients from the diet. The diet also excludes any foods grown after agriculture began such as potatoes and certain legumes, and it requires the elimination of all processed and refined foods. Nutrition experts also question the logic behind the diet, arguing that our bodies have evolved along with the environment to handle whole grains and dairy products that were not around during the caveman era.

Considering the lack of wild game and most people’s inability to cultivate plant food, it is not possible to follow the diet the exact way the paleolithic people ate. While most nutrition experts would encourage a diet void of unprocessed foods, if you do not have a gluten or dairy allergy or intolerance, it is important to include foods that contain the two as part of a well-balanced diet.

The Paleo diet, hCG diet, and raspberry ketone supplements can take their place on the shelf with all the other diet fads that have come and gone. When all is said and done, the best we can do for our health and well-being is to eat well-balanced meals and snacks that are focused on produce, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein. Pair that with an active lifestyle and you will not need to waste your money or your time on the newest diet that turns up in the year 2013.

Author's Bio: 

Bonnie R. Giller helps chronic dieters and people with medical conditions like diabetes take back control so they can get the healthy body and life they want. She does this by creating a tailored solution that combines three essential ingredients: a healthy mindset, nutrition education and caring support. The result is they lose weight and keep it off without dieting and live a healthy life symptom free.

Bonnie is a Registered Dietitian (R.D.), Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist (CDN) and Certified Diabetes Educator (C.D.E.) with specialized training in Intuitive Eating. She offers programs for the chronic dieter to achieve long lasting weight loss, for people with diabetes to attain blood sugar control and prevent diabetes complications, and for those suffering with irritable bowel syndrome to identify their food triggers so they can enjoy a symptom free life. Bonnie also treats a variety of other medical conditions, and offers a nutrition program teaching young children how to make healthy food choices.

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