The Ideal Protein Diet

The people who promote the Ideal Protein Diet like to call it "your last diet." They provide everything you need to shed those extra pounds (especially the fat) and live the rest of your life in control of your weight. There are beverages, entrees, deserts and snacks for sale, all tailored to meet the specific requirements of this protein-rich diet.

Several decades ago, French doctor Tran Tien Chanh became interested in weight loss for his athlete patients. This led to his development of a diet plan that he eventual called the Ideal Protein Diet.

The core of the Ideal Protein Diet is insulin control. Dr. Chanh believes that most of us trap our bodies in a vicious cycle of insulin spikes, sugar cravings, and carbohydrate binges. Only by eliminating these insulin peaks can people learn to control their eating and burn excess fat.

Shifting from carbohydrates to proteins reduces the secretion of insulin. Insulin is the hormone released by your pancreas that the body uses to convert glucose into energy for your cells. Diabetics have too little (or ineffective) insulin (Type II) or no insulin at all (Type I). Without correcting this problem, diabetics would starve and die, even while eating mountains of food.

In most people, insulin is produced in perfect balance with the food we digest, generating energy for our bodies. When we produce more glucose than we need, the body converts it into fat and stores it away for later. When we don't have enough glucose to power our cells, this fat is converted back into glucose for immediate use. Nice system, right?

The problem is that we don't run out of glucose very often, so the fat that our body stores away for later never gets consumed. The Ideal Protein Diet attempts to trigger that fat consumption process to deliver weight loss.

Protein can produce energy for our bodies, just like carbohydrates. Compared to carbs, the digestion process is slower and insulin release is more gradual. Your blood stream is not flooded with glucose and insulin, so you don't create fat cells. In fact, protein generates energy so poorly that fat cells need to be consumed at the same time in order to generate all of the energy your body requires.

The Ideal Protein Diet is divided into phases. The first, or induction, phase removes nearly all carbs from your diet. You eat their packaged meals and shakes along with any pure proteins, like lean meat, that you like. You stay in phase one until you are within 10% of your goal weight. During phase one, your diet looks a lot like the Atkins diet, although proponents will say that Atkins has too many fatty foods.

Dr. Tran Tien Chanh
Phase two is the "soft landing" at your goal weight. During this two week period (or so), you slowly introduce carbohydrates back into your diet. Your overall carb intake is still much lower than before your began the diet, but you do get some carbs back in your life.

This diet does have some issues. A very low carb diet will cause your body to burn fat, that's the goal. This fat burning process is called ketosis, and ketosis has some down sides. First, ketosis causes dehydration. This dehydration will significantly contribute to initial weight loss, so you will feel pretty successful at first. Of course, once you come out of ketosis and regain your hydration, all that water weight will come back. Ketosis also makes your muscles sore and subject to fatigue. That will make exercise more difficult and uncomfortable. Not really a good thing when you're trying to get back in shape. Your kidneys will work overtime while you're in ketosis, so don't consider this diet if you have kidney issues.

Could the Ideal Protein Diet work for you? This is a rapid weight loss program, aimed at people with a dozen or so pounds to lose. It can deliver a "quick win" for those looking to drop some weight for an event and realize that they will gain it back afterward. For a short time, the $100 per week cost of the supplements isn't too bad, either.

Have you tried the Ideal Protein Diet? Click on the Comment button and give the carb-free facts!

The Drop 10 Diet

After reporting on diets for many years, the editor of SELF magazine created a diet of her own. Lucy Danziger wanted to eliminate the constant hunger and feeling of deprivation that come with so many diets. Her Drop 10 diet suggests that you lose weight by ADDING foods to your meal plan.

Danziger identified 30 foods that she says "turn on" your body's natural ability to burn fat. These foods serve double duty because they make you feel full, so you eat less, and speed up your metabolism so you burn more calories. By adding these foods to your diet, Danziger claims that you can lose 10 pounds in 5 weeks.

The 30 super foods are the core of the Drop 10 diet. Danziger references medical studies that found that certain common foods had a positive impact on metabolism and fat reduction. For example, she says that yogurt can increase fat loss by more than half, compared to diets without yogurt.

The Drop 10 diet pays special attention to foods that digest slowly. Some diets call this attribute the glycemic index. The theory is that eating foods that digest quickly tricks your body into storing some of that avalanche of blood glucose in the cells as fat because your body doesn't need that much energy at that time. By eating foods that convert to glucose more slowly, your cells have a chance to use the energy as it is available and don't store it as fat for later use.

A happy coincidence is that many foods that digest slowly also contain a lot of fiber. Not only does that slow digestion, it also makes you feel full. That means that you are satisfied sooner and therefore eat less. And by avoiding the sudden spikes in blood glucose, your natural longing for sweets is decreased.

The Drop 10 diet recommends foods with a lot of fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates. That means eggs and lean meats, fruits and vegetables, nuts and lentils. Oh, and don't forget the yogurt!

By adding these super foods to your diet, you aren't taking away the foods that you love. But after eating a nice chicken breast with broccoli and brown rice, you may not be as hungry for that slice of apple pie. Bingo! You are on the road to weight loss. As a side benefit, these super foods fall neatly into the government's recommended balanced diet, as seen in the new My Plate replacement for the food pyramid.

So what's to lose? Adding these foods to what you're already eating is a pretty sweet deal, diet-wise. Your nutrition will improve, you will probably feel better, and who knows, you might actually lose some weight. So grab a diet buddy and fill those plates!

Aspirin – Good for Your Heart, Fights Cancer Too?

The benefits of aspirin for preventing and mitigating heart attacks have been known for years. Many people take a low dose of aspirin daily, just in case. New research is pointing to a new benefit of daily aspirin: cancer prevention.

Researchers at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom conducted three separate studies on the effect, if any, of daily aspirin consumption on cancer deaths. The results were encouraging.

In one study, more than 17,000 people participated in the experiment. The portion of the group who took daily, low dose aspirin experienced 46% fewer cases of colon, prostate and lung cancers and 18% fewer cases of all other cancers.

In another trial, the group taking aspirin suffered only 324 cases of cancer compared to the control group's 421 cases.  Aspirin also seems to slow the spread of cancer once it takes hold. In a study of cancer patients, those who took aspirin were 15% less likely to die after three years and 37% less likely to die after five years, compared to similar cancer patients who did not take aspirin. Another study of cancer patients found a 50% lower chance of cancer spreading after 6 years compared to those not taking aspirin.

These studies did not identify the reason why aspirin reduces cancer risk, they just identified the correlation. Some doctors suspect that aspirin's effect on the platelets in the blood might have something to do with reducing cancer.

Aspirin is not without its problems.  Aspirin thins the blood, so it is dangerous for people subject to cerebral bleeding. It can also cause stomach upset and cause digestive system bleeding. There are specially-crafted versions of low dose aspirin that have an enteric coating to reduce stomach issues. The coating delays the digestion of the aspirin until it is farther down the digestive path, saving the stomach wall from exposure.

So, should you take an aspirin every day? Do check with your doctor, because aspirin can worsen internal bleeding. And be sure to take the "baby" aspirin or low dose (81mg) aspirin rather than the full strength version. For most of us, though, it just makes good sense.

The 5 Factor Diet

Hollywood is known for a lot of glamour, glitz and skinny movie stars. It's not surprising that Hollywood also churns out a seemingly endless stream of diets. The latest diet craze to hit Hollywood is the 5 Factor Diet. Learn what convinced Alicia Keys, Jessica Simpson, Rihanna, Mandy Moore and Eva Mendes to give it a try.

Harley Pasternak is a personal trainer to the stars. With that background, making the jump to diet guru status was easy. His book, The 5 Factor Diet, spells out his plan for losing weight and living a healthier life. Some of his ideas are surprising.

The number 5 plays a key role in this diet. Why? That's not really important, is it? But every day should have 5 meals. Every meal should have 5 components (lean protein, complex carbs, fiber, fat and water). Food should have no more than 5 ingredients and take no more than 5 minutes to make. Oh, yes, there's a 5-day exercise plan that takes (you're reading ahead, aren't you?) 5 minutes a day to perform. Yes, there really are 5 elements of the 5 Factor Diet.

Pasternak's eating plan focuses on controlling blood sugar. Sometimes called Glycemic Index, this is a measure of how rapidly the food is digested. Many people believe that blood sugar spikes, caused by foods that quickly metabolize into a lot of glucose, causes hunger pangs. By eating foods that digest more slowly, blood sugar spikes are eliminated and cravings suppressed. That makes it easier to stick with your diet.

The 5 Factor diet is a 5 week plan (of course), but there is no reason to stop if you haven't reached your goal weight. Pasternak says that his diet will let you lose one or two pounds a week. This is a sensible and safe rate of weight loss. All in all, this is a moderate and conservative diet. It meets the government's guidelines for calorie intake. With the moderate exercise, this is a positive step for most people's health.

Could this diet be right for you? The meal plan is simple and the recipes straight-forward. Although there aren't guidelines for eating out, eating 5 times a day is certainly attractive. The 5 components of every meal can help bring a renewed focus on eating a balanced diet, and keep you away from fast food drive-throughs. And even 5 minutes of exercise a week can make a difference. So, why not give it a try? So grab Pasternak's book and give your diet buddy a high 5! And, of course, click on that Comment button and share you 5 tips for success.

The Fat Smash Diet

What a visual! Imagine the mighty diet smashing body fat to smithereens! According to Dr. Ian Smith, his Fat Smash Diet is a 90-day roadmap to kicking those bad habits and replacing them with a healthier lifestyle. All without counting calories!

Dr. Smith first achieved fame as a judge on the VH1 television program Celebrity Fit Club. He developed a diet plan for celebrities who wanted to lose weight quickly. The result: the Fat Smash Diet book.

The fat smash diet works by changing your outlook on eating and exercise. Over the span of 90 days you change your relationship with food and your approach to fitness. Dr. Smith uses a pyramid metaphor to describe your progression toward your end goal: a healthy life.

Before you begin, Dr. Smith encourages you to record your present weight and BMI and take an illustrative picture of yourself. This will serve as motivation and provide a baseline for measuring your progress throughout the diet.

Phase one is the detox stage. During this nine day period, you eliminate body impurities and prepare your body for a new eating style. Phase one is pretty much a vegetarian diet. During this phase you are allowed to eat fresh fruits, fresh vegetables (except potatoes and avocados), fresh-squeezed fruit juices, oatmeal or grits, egg whites, brown rice and unsweetened green tea and water. You can't eat fast food, desserts, meat, bread, cheese, nuts or fried foods. You can't drink alcohol, coffee or sodas. During this phase you should do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week and take an after-dinner walk.

Phase two is called the foundation.  This phase adds some foods, like lean meat, cereal, whole eggs, cheese and peanut butter. Some limited sugar and salt are also permitted. Your exercise period increases to 35 minutes, five times a week. Phase 2 lasts for three weeks.

Phase three is the construction phase. During these four weeks, you eat four meals, with even more protein and whole grains in your diet. Your exercise increases, too. Dr. Smith suggests 45 minutes of exercise, five times a week. For better results, he suggests breaking the 45 minutes into a morning and an afternoon intervals. This takes advantage of your increased metabolism after exercising, burning even more fat. During phase three, Dr. Smith recommends that you follow phase one rules for at least one day a week.

By the end of phase three you should be at your target weight. If not, you cycle back to phase one and start again. You can do this over and over, until you reach your target weight (or adjust your target).

Phase four is called the temple. This is your maintenance plan for life. You are allowed pretty much any kind of food, but in moderation. He even permits three glasses of wine or beer in your weekly allocation. My kind of guy! Your exercise regimen increases to an hour a day, five days a week. Dr. Smith also recommends adding anaerobic exercise to further eliminate fat cells and build endurance.

The Fat Smash Diet is a pretty extreme approach to weight loss. The eating restrictions, especially during phase one, are extreme and don't provide many of the nutrients critical to good health. Once you progress to phase three it is possible to have a healthy and balanced diet. Who knows, if it works for Hollywood celebrities, why won't it work for you?

What's The Deal With Fancy Water?

Long ago, we drank out of the nearest stream or lake. Even then, we understood at some level that drinking water was critical to our health. Fast forward to 1977, when we suddenly learned that bottled water was THE thing. A few years later we discovered that water needed to be flavored and enhanced to truly be healthy. What is going on?

The bottled water business is amazing. Responsible for around 1% of the entire U.S. Gross Domestic Product, bottled water is no better for us than the tap water found in larger towns and cities. In fact, bottled water executives won't disparage their nearly-free competitor from the tap. Bottled water has far more opportunity to introduce contaminants and bacteria than tap water. So why is bottled water such a success?

Bottled water marketing departments will readily suggest that drinking bottled water helps you to keep track of how much water you're drinking every day. We all know the positive effects of drinking lots of water, so knowing your consumption is a good thing. Those pesky water glasses and refillable bottles are so confusing, aren't they?

A lot of people also find that bottled water tastes better. That usually means that the bottler has added some minerals for taste. Not something that they put on the front of the label. In most cases, the water in the bottle came from some big-city tap with a bit of filtering and aerating. Several popular and competing brands actually use the same source for their water. Wouldn't that be a fun exposé  for Geraldo Rivera!

The latest fad in the water business is "enhanced" water. Every major beverage company has their suite of brands, such as Fruit2O, Skinny Water, O-Water, Propel, SoBe Lifewater, VitaminWater, SmartWater and more. These waters are available in every color of the rainbow and nearly every taste in the supermarket.

How does enhanced water help you? Some contain electrolytes. Electrolytes are chemicals in our bodies that are lost when we sweat. So replacing electrolytes is good, right? It turns out that unless your heavy exertion lasts more than an hour, your body will replenish your electrolytes naturally without any help from your pretty water.

Other waters contain vitamins and minerals. Others contain herbs and flowers to help you concentrate or fall asleep. Still others contain caffeine or taurine for energy and alertness. They all come in lovely bottles and have a variety of colors to match your wardrobe. Is there a down side?

Beside the cost, which is not negligible, the benefit of enhanced water is hard to measure. The additives are typically in very small doses, making medical support difficult to obtain. The other issue to consider is the caloric cost of these beverages. Rarely discussed in the promotional literature, many of these drinks have nearly as many calories as a can of Pepsi. The waters that promote energy and alertness contain as much caffeine as a small Starbucks. So keep in mind everything that you're drinking when you reach for your beverage. And don't forget that recent research has shown that low-fat chocolate milk is actually superior when it comes to recovery from exercise.

What is there to do?  How about some healthy, free tap water in a reusable (BPA-free) water bottle!

The Montel Williams Diet

More than ten years ago, Montel Williams was told that he had multiple sclerosis and would be confined to a wheel chair within a few years. He immediately began to transform his diet and a decade later is reduced his MS symptoms by nearly half and eliminated his antidepressant medication. Here is his 21 day diet solution, as told on the Dr. Oz show.

Montel Williams doesn't consider his eating program a diet, preferring to call it a regimen. The regimen avoids junk foods and features fresh fruits and vegetables instead. He is especially fond of green foods. That means a lot of green vegetables, green smoothies, green juices, you get the idea.

Montel's breakfast is typically a smoothie. Based on spinach or other leafy greens, he adds 4-5 fruits which change daily. This keeps the smoothies interesting and helps keep you out of the McDonalds drive-through for breakfast.

Montel Williams is a big fan of chlorophyll, too. Chlorophyll is the chemical in plants that transforms sunlight into energy. It turns out that chlorophyll is also good for your digestive system, especially the intestines. Every morning features a chlorophyll supplement in pill form. Montel also takes an injection of B-12, although oral supplements are equally effective. Most B-12 pills also contain B-6 and folic acid, an added benefit.
For lunch and dinner Montel follows the Mediterranean diet. This means a lot of olive oil and whole grains and nuts. His protein comes from chicken and fish instead of red meat. The Montel Williams diet also features a 3 root tea. This tea contains the roots of ahwagandha, rhodiola and schisandra plants. This tea will never become popular based on taste, but Montel swears that it helped eliminate his limp.

An additional element of the Montel Williams diet that won't be very popular with the vampires is his practice of eating 10 cloves of garlic every day. He adds it to his fish and chicken, even blends it into his smoothies. Montel believes that is has measurably improved his health. He has not commented on its effect on his love life.

Montel's book Living Well, describes a 21 day journey to better health. It contains an eating guide, some recipes and an exercise program. You even get an eating and exercising diary to track your progress. Could this work for you? That probably depends on your tolerance for awful tea and 10 garlic cloves a day. You can't argue with the results that Montel has produced!

The Banana Diet

Do you need to lose some weight? Do you like bananas? Do you dislike rigid rules controlling what you eat? If you answered YES to these questions, then the banana diet may be perfect for you.

The banana diet began in Japan. It was created by Hitoshi Watanabe and became wildly popular when Japanese opera singer Kumiko Mori said during a televised interview that she had lost 15 pounds in 6 weeks. The price of bananas skyrocketed, and banana scarcity became the norm across Japan.

There are two variations on the banana diet. The Morning Banana Diet has, you guessed it, bananas for breakfast. Only bananas for breakfast, but as many as you want. You can then eat whatever you want for the balance of the day.

The Banana Diet (without the "morning") features a banana before each meal. You then proceed to eat a small, well-balanced meal that focuses on protein. More bananas, but you do get to eat a more varied breakfast.

Both varieties of the banana diet share common elements. They limit your beverage selection to room temperature water. No sodas, alcohol, coffee or tea. You are allowed to have three meals, plus a mid-afternoon snack. In either diet, you can't eat anything within 4 hours of going to bed. All in all, not a lot of "must" or "must not" rules.

An interesting component of both forms of the banana diet is that there is no obligation to exercise. In fact, the diet recommends exercise only if it reduces your stress level. If exercising increases your stress, you should skip it. There won't be a lot of banana diet brochures in fitness clubs.

So, bananas are widely viewed as wonderful fruits, but how can they help with weight loss? The underlying basis for the banana diet is something called "resistant starch." That refers to starchy fiber that is not absorbed by your stomach or intestines. It takes up room in your stomach, so you feel full, but doesn't convert to calories through digestion. Some research also seems to indicate that resistant starch can increase the rate of fat burning and slow the formation of new fat cells.

Is there a down side to the banana diet? Well, you might not actually lose weight, so that could be seen as a down side. There's nothing fundamental in the banana diet that forces you to eat fewer calories than you burn during your day. Some people also worry about all those bananas being harmful to your teeth. Bananas are sticky, so the fruit sugar can stick to your tooth enamel unless you brush it off. But then, brushing your teeth probably counts as a low stress exercise, doesn't it?

Have you tried the banana diet? Did you find it a-peeling (OK, sorry)? Click on the Comment button and go bananas!

The Ayurvedic Diet

The Ayurvedic diet is less of a weight loss fad and more of a lifestyle for health. Based on ancient practices in India, ayurveda recommends foods and activities based on your body type. Here's what you should know.

Followers of ayurveda believe that people fall into one of three body types, called doshas. These doshas have characteristics that make them best suited for particular foods and behaviors. Many people are a blend of two doshas, but selecting the predominant one will lead to better health and happiness.

The Ayurvedic diet divides food into 6 categories: astringent, bitter, pungent, salty, sour and sweet. Eat of these food groups has a particular benefit. The astringent flavor provides balance to salty foods. The bitter flavor purifies. Pungent foods clear your sinuses and your mind. Salty foods aid digestion. Sour flavors energize and nourish. Sweet flavors strengthen and extend life.

The Kapha dosha is the largest body type.  People of the kapha dosha are broad across the hips and shoulders. Their hair is full, thick and often curly. Kaphas tend to have good endurance and enjoy a placid and stable outlook on life.

When a kapha is not eating correctly, typical maladies include sluggishness, sinus issues and circulatory problems. Proper eating focuses on eating smaller meals, especially foods that are light, dry, hot and strongly spiced. Avoid diary, wheat and most oils. Physical exercise is particularly important for the kapha dosha.

The Pitta dosha is common in people in people of medium build. They enjoy good muscle tone and high energy. Their digestion is quite accommodating, so pitta doshas can tolerate pretty much all foods. They are mentally quick and emotionally charged.

A diet out of balance for the pitta dosha can cause inflammation, acid reflux, ulcers and headaches. Good foods for the pitta dosha are cool and dry, with mild flavors, like rice, beans, milk and steamed veggies. Avoid pungent or oily foods, alcohol, coffee and foods with a lot of spice.

The Vata dosha is common in people with slender builds. With little body fat, they tend to be cold most of the time and suffer from dry skin and hair. They are fast learners and enthusiastic about new ideas.

When someone with a vata dosha is out of balance, they can suffer from poor digestion, fatigue, insomnia and sinus issues.  They should eat warm, mild foods, especially soups, dairy, wheat, rice and corn. People with a vata dosha should avoid raw vegetables, spicy foods, brown rice, alcohol and tea.

How can you determine your dosha? There are many online quizzes that can quickly figure that out. One good example is here. Once you know your dasha you can adjust your eating to emphasize your positive foods and minimize your negative foods. There are many good cookbooks to help you on your journey. Once your diet gets in sync with your dasha, there's no telling what good things can happen!

Red Wine = Healthy Heart? Maybe, Maybe Not

We were all encouraged when research studies showed positive health impacts from moderate consumption of red wine. Unfortunately, some of the foundational research in this area has been found to be false.

For years Mr. Dipak Das was at the forefront of research into the healthy aspects of red wine. Over a period of seven years, Dr. Das conducted multiple studies on heart health and resveratrol, a compound found in red wine. The National Institutes of Health funded most of his work at the University of Connecticut medical school in Farmington. Numerous producers of nutritional supplements created resveratrol pills based on Dr. Das's research results. Countless red wine aficionados referenced his work as they poured their next glass of wine.

The University of Connecticut has completed an exhaustive three year examination of Dr. Das's research methods and conclusions and determined that some of the data was falsified. Particular attention was paid to research results derived from a gadget called a "Western blot." It is now believed that Dr. Das "adjusted" readings from this device in a way that made his research results more consistent. He is also believed to have improperly combined results from separate studies to arrive at results that are not supported by the data if kept separate.

What does this mean? Dr. Das is being dismissed, of course. All active and planned research in his portfolio is suspended and research grants have been returned. All of his conclusions are cast into doubt. However, there are numerous other research studies conducted by other scientists on various positive health benefits of red wine. These areas include obesity, cancer, aging and diabetes. There is no reason to believe that these other researchers falsified their data.

Other studies have shown that red wine can improve your memory, control your body mass index, improve your resistance to infection and strengthen your bones. So don't despair, pour yourself a nice glass of merlot and congratulate yourself for never falsifying government-funded research!

The Digest Diet

The Digest Diet is from the Reader's Digest people, so it should be no surprise that their approach to a one month diet takes only 21 days. The diet was based on reviews of hundreds of other diets, selecting their strong points and throwing out their bad. They describe their approach as a "focus on healthy and natural food" that stimulates fat reduction and overall weight loss. And, of course, they published a book available the Reader's Digest.

The digest diet identifies 13 "fat burning" foods that they believe can trick your body into releasing fat without making you feel hungry. These fat burning foods are: calcium, dairy, resveratrol (found in red wine), coconut oil, polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, protein, vitamin C, quinoa, honey, cocoa, vinegar and fiber. That's quite a range from the very specific, like coconut oil, to the very general, like protein. Does that mean that bacon is part of this diet?

There are three phases to the digest diet. The first phase lasts only 4 days. This induction phase starts you on soups and shakes or smoothies. For snacks, they suggest a handful of nuts. Lots of vitamins, minerals and protein to jump-start your metabolism.

Phase two of the digest diet takes 10 days. This phase focuses on lean protein and green vegetables. Think the Mediterranean diet. Your diet adds in more mono- and polyunsaturated fats. You get two snacks (again with the nuts) and a glass of wine or handful of grapes for that resveratrol boost.

The digest diet's third and final phase sets you up for a lifetime of healthy eating. Now you broaden your allowed foods to include a wide range of entrees. You can even eat pizza! The meal plans continue their focus, though, on including lots of the 13 fat burning foods to continue your weight loss. This is technically taking you through the end of the three week diet, but you are actually beginning the rest of your life on a new food maintenance plan.

Their book, The Digest Diet, claims that you can lose 26 pounds in 3 weeks. Have you tried it? How did it work for you? Click on the beautiful Comment button and share!