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Like everything else in life nowadays, diets too have a shelf life; the new celebrity-endorsed diets become trendy while others become outdated. The passé diets of yesteryears had wholegrain crackers or fruits and now most diets are the high protein ones.

The latest diet trends include the delectable Cookie Diet, Weight Watchers Diet, Rachel Ray’s Slim Abs Diet and the much talked about Zone Diet which celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Ray have endorsed. Every dietician or weight loss guru has the ‘perfect’ patented formula to lose weight. Here is a look into some of the latest diets that people are raving about.

The Zone Diet, developed by Dr Barry Sears, stresses the intake of fruits, vegetables and meat. The diet does not deny people carbohydrates, but simply limits their intake of it. The Zone works according to a formula of 40/30/30, meaning 40 per cent carbohydrates, 30 per cent fat, and 30 per cent protein.

The physiological basis behind the Zone diet is an effort to limit the amount of insulin in the body. This is because a large amount of insulin can lead to a build up of fat, causing obesity and other medical problems. People on the diet are encouraged to obtain their carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables, and their fat from olive oil and other monounsaturated fats.

The biggest advantage of the Zone Diet is that it can lead to significant weight loss. It is also healthier than some diets, since it eliminates non-nutritious carbohydrates and emphasises fruits and vegetables. The diet encourages people to eat often — at least every five hours. It is also a low-calorie diet — the typical female dieter will consume only about 1300 calories, at the most, when following the Zone. Some dieticians heartily endorse the Zone, while others dismiss it as being too complex to follow, forcing dieters to spend too much time trying to do various calculations.

People tend to gravitate to the Zone because it offers them the opportunity to indulge in foods that would be restricted on other diets. Also, the diet can be more filling than other weight loss plans. The problem, however, is that a number of the claims made about the Zone are unproven. Thus the diet has been dismissed as a fad in some quarters.

In Pakistan few people adhere to the Zone principle; in main, the difficulty arises from our eating patterns which include hot oily curry and rich spices, making it difficult to switch to a low-carb, low-fat diet. And when we make a switchover to Western foods, we tend to indulge in all the fattening items such as pasta, macaroni, cheese, pancakes and crepes.

The only Weight Watchers fad which has made its way into our country are the slim-fast shakes that pack 220 calories and offer the perfect meal replacement solution. Weight Watchers Club with their yummy low calorie products, which include desserts, still have to make their way into our country.

Weight Watchers’ diet is based on the principle of eating right and not denying yourself. You are not given extremely stringent rules but are taught about calorie control, a positive outlook and the sustenance of your willpower. It is not about fast weight loss but rather about permanent weight loss. It advocates a group system or buddy system where you can actually partner up with a person to regulate your and the other person’s weight loss. This keeps your morale up and the weekly Weight Watchers meetings also boost up your positive outlook towards the whole thing.

The Cookie Diet, developed by Dr Sanford Siegal, restricts you to six hunger-suppressing diet cookies during the day; you are allowed only a single meal at dinner time. The cookies are to be eaten whenever the dieter is hungry and, together with dinner, the total calorie intake in a day adds up to 800 calories.

Critics of the Cookie Diet dismiss it for not being a nutritious eating plan as the total calorie consumption is less than what is recommended for a safe weight loss programme. Moreover, they add, the diet is lacking in fruits and vegetables, as well as vitamins and minerals.

Many of these faddish diets are endorsed by celebrities, such as Anna Nicole, Kirstie Alley, etc but they all, sooner or later, give up. The promises fuelled by weight loss solutions that offer easy and fast weight loss or even weight gain for bodybuilders depict the inactive lifestyle that is becoming the norm in an increasingly global society.

Sedentary lifestyle, depression and binges all contribute to make people obese. And in our country where there are few places for people to jog or walk in the cities and with the gyms and health clubs being so expensive, it won’t be a surprise if obesity balloons up to the same level as it has in the US. The best bet would be to eat smart, get lots of exercise and not just at the gym. Get up and walk to the neighbourhood shop instead of taking the car, climb the stairs, do some housework — just move around. Even shopping at Aanarkali burns a lot of calories. You will soon shed pounds without having to follow any unhealthy fads.

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