Diet Tips From Four Top Weight Loss Plans - Vegan diet sound too extreme? Radak March 2006


Diet Tips From Four Top Weight Loss Plans - Women's Health Magazine

Vegan diet sound too extreme? We got the best tips from four plans that are easy to incorporate into your lifestyle

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It's tempting to think that if only you were better, more disciplined, and more organized, you could rid your diet of all those nasty animal fats and processed foods. You could eat only organic vegetables and soy-based baked goods. You could finally achieve the same inner peace, shiny hair, and glowing children that macrobiotic dieters like Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna seem to enjoy. Then again, if you don't have the time, money, or inclination to eat nothing but vegetables and carob-chip cookies, don't despair. We've examined four of the biggest lifestyle diet trends and found how you can benefit from the best nutritional advice from these weight loss plans — without having to grow your own produce or give up your morning bagel. See the WH's Eat Better page and "Veggie Madness," where your favorite produce battles to see who's best.

Raw Food

The Claim
Raw foodists believe that food contains life force and revitalizing properties, and that cooking food above 115 degrees kills the active enzymes responsible for this force. A raw diet consists mostly of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouts, sprouted grains, legumes (in sprout form), sea vegetables, and fresh juices. Forget about meat: Dead animals are so not life-affirming. The payoff for all this roughage? A renewed life force of your own. "Sometimes I
have so much energy, it scares me," says Sarma Melngailis, co-owner of Pure Food and Wine, a raw food restaurant in New York City, and founder of, an online marketplace for all things raw and organic.

The Reality
A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition found that strict raw foodists had lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than their more lenient counterparts. (But the cutting out of animal fats and processed foods probably has more to do with that than the degree to which they cook their edamame.) "There is not really any scientific mechanism that makes eating raw food better than eating cooked food," says Luigi Fontana, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. The diet lacks concentrated protein sources, and strict followers "can have deficiency in vitamin B12, zinc, calcium, and vitamin D," he says. That could lead to anemia, a weakened immune system, and osteoporosis. Plus, some foods are better for you cooked: Tomatoes, for example, offer more heart-healthy lycopene when heated.
Real-Life Strategy
Do more with less. Raw food lovers know how to be creative in the kitchen, and adopting some of their tricks can help you boost your vegetable intake — even if you like your food warm. Try this pasta impostor:

Zucchini Pasta with Macadamia, Mint, and Tomato

2 large zucchinis, ends trimmed
1/2 c cold-pressed macadamia oil
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Himalayan crystal salt, or sea salt, to taste
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1 handful mint, torn into small pieces
1/2 c macadamia nuts, chopped

Julienne the zucchini and place the strips in a medium bowl. Toss with most of the oil, the lime juice, and a generous pinch of salt. Add the tomato and mint and toss well. Toss the nuts in a small bowl with the remaining oil and a pinch of salt, and sprinkle over the zucchini. Serves four.

Raw foodists also rely on vegetable and nut oils to add kick to otherwise bland sprouts and vegetables. We like avocado and macadamia oils, which have the same heart-healthy fats as olive oil and can be used for cooking or salad dressings.

Vegan Diet

The Claim
Taking vegetarianism to the next level, the vegan diet prohibits all animal products, including dairy. Milk chocolate is out. So is cake made with eggs and milk on your Cheerios. Produce and high-fiber grains are key to this diet. "Study after study shows the benefit of increased fiber, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in preventing chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes," says Tim Radak, Ph.D., R.D., associate director of nutrition for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a pro-vegan nonprofit group. "And if you add all those elements together, you get the vegan diet." The diet can also be high in soy, which, thanks to its multiple forms (milk, tofu, tempeh) and high-protein content, can make a handy substitute for dairy and meat products.

The Reality
The popularity of supermarkets like Whole Foods makes it easier than ever to eat well as a vegan. But you can lose out on important nutrients if you're not careful. "If you don't do the vegan diet right, you can miss out on protein, as well as iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and omega fatty acids," Blatner says.

Real-Life Strategy
Tofu for you! Okay, you may not be ready to submit to the culinary concoction that is Tofurkey. But occasionally swapping out basic animal products like milk and hamburgers for soy-based vegan alternatives, such as veggie burgers or soy milk, can do your body good. A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who consumed the most soy had fewer bone fractures as they aged