March 13, 2012

A Light Advice from a Licensed Dietitian

Popular diets don’t necessarily mean healthy or balanced. That’s the case of most diets that have emerged in the last three decades such Atkins, Dukan, Zone and the south beach diet.
The American Academy of Family Physicians warns that these fad diets don’t typically result in long-term weight loss and even some can be dangerous to health such as the cabbage soup diet, Hollywood diet, apple cider vinegar diet, and Acai berry diet ( promoted by Oprah Winfrey).

How can one know how these diets are fad? Most of these diets promise a quick fix or are based on a simple study or have claims that sound too good to be true. They even eliminate one of the five essential food groups, promote a certain product or emphasize a "popular" lifestyle.

I asked Nour Hammami, a Licensed dietitian in the Lebanese ministry of Public health and currently pursuing her Master in Nutrition, to give students some advice about the popular low carbohydrate (carb) -high protein diets.

Hammami claims that a low carb-high protein diet truly offers a fast and short term weight loss, but has certain backlash effects. Primarily, it doesn’t provide long-term weight maintenance and even causes regaining of weight. The mechanism behind this is simply explained that when one is not consuming carbs, his body, mostly the brain, will use those that are stored.  This loss in stored carbs will, in synchrony, lead to a loss in water stored. This explains the fast loss in weight because one is actually losing body water and not fat.  

Hammami warns that since this diet is high in proteins, it is also high in fat because it promotes eating red meat. Red meat contains high amounts of saturated fat that is associated with heart diseases. Certain studies show that those who followed this diet had sunken cheeks, flabby skin and a pale face color. They also showed fatigue and headaches because there is no fuel in the body. Depleting one’s intake from carbohydrate simple depletes him from energy.

Hammami advises :
  1. A balanced and nutritious diet never eliminates a food or a food group.
  2. Half of our meals must have fruits and vegetables. Always have  a side salad if you can.
  3.  If one wants to lose weight, the trick lies eating in small plates because one tends to put fewer portions. 
  4. If one is going out for dinner think before arriving to the restaurant about the healthy options one can order to avoid getting affected by the menu.

Fad diets are most popular among adolescent female and common among freshman and sophomore students.
Unfortunately media promotes most of these diets, mostly fashion magazines. Moreover, books are published every year by famous dieticians for marketing purposes to let readers buy their books solely.

Students shouldnt not to stick to a particular diet but rather question the magazine, the dietitian or even the medical doctor because knowledge is the key to health.


This article also appeared in Outlook , AUB's student newspaper.
( Nour has recently openned a new blog to share her precious knowledge and experience in Nutrition and Dietetics , so stay posted for her advice here


  1. Great reminder to everyone, especially before the summer season and the swimsuit hysteria! :)

    1. Indeed and before the weddings season craze!!