August 23, 2007

Special? I Beg To Differ

I am sure you've seen various weight loss promises proudly displayed on a number of cereal boxes at the supermarket.

Special K, for instance, advertises that you can lose six pounds in two weeks just by having it twice a day!

Mind you, healthy guidelines of weight loss call for approximately one to one and a half pounds per week (this assumes your weight loss is consistent and you don't hit any pleateaus, which are normal to encounter when losing a significant amount of weight)

In any case, a closer look at how Special K! (and other cereals) "helps you lose weight" reveals the following diet plan:

• Eat a serving of Kellogg's® Special K®, Special K® Red Berries, Special K® Vanilla Almond, Special K® Fruit & Yogurt or Special K® Low Carb Lifestyle Protein Plus cereal with 2/3 cup skim milk and fruit for two meals a day.

• Eat your third meal as you normally do.

• For snacks, choose from fresh fruits and vegetables or a Special K® Bar.

• Consume beverages as you normally do.

So, in essence, your breakfast and lunch each consist of roughly 300 calories. Considering that most people eat anywhere between 600 and 1,000 calories for lunch, the concept behind this "diet" is clearly the true and tested "eat less calories" method.

Even an 800 calorie dinner would give somebody eating Special K for breakfast and lunch a total calorie count of 1400. Those who choose to snack while on this plan are only having an additional 200 or so calories if they only consume the fresh fruits and vegetables that are allowed.

So, for someone on this diet who normally eats 2,400 calories a day, this is quite a caloric reduction!

The "consume beverages" as you normally do is confusing, since no real guidelines are given. If someone is drinking two twenty-ounce bottles of regular soda (hence drinking 500 calories a day), they are told to just continue doing so?

The concept of having a cup of cereal with milk and fruit for lunch is extreme and, in my opinion, unnecessarily restrictive and boring.

As I've mentioned before, if all you care about is calorie counting, you can lose weight with anything --even ice cream and pizza. However, since these two foods are highly caloric, it takes small amounts of them to reach your caloric goal.

Consider the following edxample. It would take you 15 ½ cups of tomatoes to eat 500 calories, whereas that same caloric amount can be found in ¾ cup of chocolate Haagen Dazs ice cream (that’s less than half the standard pint you buy at the supermarket!).

The key to successful and permanent weight loss is not about boring diet plans that ask you to eat a certain food at a given time, but rather in choosing foods that satisfy you and provide ample nutrition without adding on too many calories.

As Dr. Lisa Young recently told us, popcorn is a great snack for people she refers to as "volume eaters" (those who need to see a lot of food on their plate to feel satisfied). When air popped and eaten without butter, four cups of this whole grain only provide 125 calories!

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