Atkins, Zone, LEARN and Ornish Diets: Losing Nutrients Not Just Fat

Think all you lose is pounds when you start one of those popular weight loss program such as Atkins, Zone, LEARN or Ornish? Think again. A recent study found that women who follow diets focused on macronutrient distribution (that’s fat, protein and carbs) often don’t get enough of certain vitamins and minerals. The study found that over 25% of participants who followed Atkins, LEARN or Ornish had diets deficient in certain nutrients. Of particular concern were some of the B vitamins such as folate, thiamin, and B12. Although the Zone diet wasn’t perfect, the participants who followed this diet plan were more likely to get the nutrients they need. Of the diets examined, Zone definitely seems to be the best bet as far as overall nutrient intake is concerned.

So why are these diets so lacking? It could be that the emphasis on macronutrients takes priority and people forget that they should still eat a varied and balanced diet. That means including all the food groups and changing things up a bit from day to day. However, some diets such as Atkins and Ornish have such strict restrictions that make it quite difficult to eat a balanced diet.

Beyond vitamins, low carb diets like Atkins tend to be low in fiber – an important component of gastrointestinal health as well as keeping cholesterol levels in check. Be sure to make the most of your carb allowance by choosing whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Short-term, these diets are unlikely to be harmful. But if you plan to follow one of these diets for more than a month or two, consider taking a multivitamin to make sure all your bases are covered. And also remember that the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to make permanent lifestyle changes – not to follow a fad diet for a few weeks.

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