Consumer Reports Delivers the Skinny on Diets


A panel of nutrition experts at Consumer Reports conducted an in-depth analysis of diets and dieting and made a shocking discovery. The surprising finding is that the basic diet strategy that many programs have used for years– labeling some foods as evil and others as good — may be part of what’s undermined so many dieters attempts at weight loss.

The bottom line is that smart diets focus on small, simple shifts in lifestyle (like the Enlita Weight Loss Program) instead of highly restrictive diets.

Choosing a Comprehensive Diet Program

Leading the pack was the Volumetrics diet plan, which focuses on eating as much as you want of low calorie, nutrient dense foods.
Weight-Watchers came in second because it has the highest long-term adherence. Jenny Craig and Slim-Fast rounded out the top four.

The diets given the lowest rankings were eDiets, Zone Diet, Ornish Diet and the Atkins Diet. The experts were concerned that these diets were too complicated and don’t seem to be able to retain people for the long-term.

The report also gave the big thumbs down to three popular dieting strategies — diet pills, “angel and devil foods,” and plans based on glycemic index, which scores foods according to how quickly they boost blood sugar levels — arguing that there’s no good science to support any of them.

Diet Books Demystified

The diet books were ranked as follows:

1. The Best Life Diet – “Oprah endorsed”, with straightforward recipes and nutritional meal plans.

2. Eat, Drink & Weigh Less – excellent Mediterranean recipes but little attention to exercise.

3. You: On A Diet – simple but lacking in details or flexibility.

4. The Abs Diet – strong emphasis on exercise, but scored lower for pushing whey supplements.

Bringing up the rear in the diet books were the South Beach Diet, the Sonoma Diet and UltraMetabolism, all of which were “needlessly restrictive” or “overly elaborate”.

Advice for People Who Don’t Want a Diet Plan

The report also gave 8 tips for people who are looking to achieve natural weight loss on their own.

1. Eat breakfast.

2. Lower your total fat intake and switch to healthier fats (Omega-3s rather than trans-fats).

3. Have a healthy diet: increase the fruits and veggies, moderate amounts of lean meats, fish and whole grains and avoid the refined grains, potatoes, and sugary snacks.

4. Exercise, exercise, exercise.

5. Cut back on carbs.

6. Fill up on low-energy density foods (i.e. foods with fewer calories per bite).

7. Weigh-in at least once a week.

8. Limit your selections as variety stimulates your appetite.

Consumer Reports also points out that many people have to try a few diets before they find the one that is right for them. Because we are all so unique and have unique eating challenges it seems that the right diets are out there for everyone, but they’re not always easy to find. This comparison of diets is designed to give consumers a good place to start looking.

Dr. Amy Neuzil’s comment:

Right now 41% of Americans are trying to lose weight, 63% have dieted at some point in their lives, 16% are enrolled in free weight loss programs and another 8% are in paid programs. It is clear that there needs to be a strong comparison of diet programs, but unfortunately I don’t think this is it.

Consumer Reports got the right idea by observing that the best diets focus on lifestyle changes and good nutrition rather than strict rules and lists of good and bad foods. Sadly, they’ve neglected to look at any of the other factors that need to be present in a weight loss program.

The rankings didn’t take into account any information on mental and emotional factors in weight loss, individualized strategies for people with different metabolisms, or medical barriers to weight loss such as toxicity, hormonal imbalance, digestive disturbance and depression.

My biggest objection to this report lies in the 8 tips for people losing weight outside of a program. Some are clearly good advice while others fall far short of the mark. I will evaluate them below, one by one.

1. Eat breakfast.

-I agree, as breakfast is vital to boost your metabolism and help you shed pounds.

2. Lower your total fat intake and switch to healthier fats (Omega-3s rather than trans-fats).

– This one is partially correct. Staying away from trans-fats and boosting your omega-3s is great advice for anyone, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. However, eating a low-fat, high-carb diet is NOT an effective way to lose weight–it can make you gain weight.

3. Eat a healthy diet. Increase the fruits and veggies, moderate amounts of lean meats, fish and whole grains and avoid the refined grains, potatoes, and sugary snacks.

– For weight loss to last long-term the plan has to promote a healthy diet that you can learn to use and enjoy on a daily basis. Otherwise you may lose weight for a while but the pounds will come right back when your nutrition slips back into old patterns.

4. Exercise, exercise, exercise.

– Exercise is vital to build muscle, which increases your resting metabolic rate. Also it improves your insulin sensitivity which helps your body burn fat more easily. Exercise also conditions your heart and lungs for cardiovascular health and to prevent heart disease. Exercise is an absolute must for all people, not just those who are working on losing weight.

5. Cut back on carbs.

– What kind of carbohydrates? Does this mean fruits and veggies? Whole grains? Refined carbs and sugars? I say increase the fruits and veggies, and decrease the refined carbs, starches, sugars and artificial sweeteners.

6. Fill up on low-energy, high-density foods (i.e. foods with fewer calories per bite).

– This one needs some help. Some low-energy density foods are great, but some are not. The goal should be nutritious and low-energy density. Foods like carrots, celery, lettuce and berries that have fewer calories per bite but lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants will allow you to eat more and also to get more out of your food.

But some people need to eat calorie dense foods like avocados, red meat, coconut milk, nuts in order to be at their best. It is clear that one diet does not fit all. .

7. Weigh-in at least once a week.

– Weigh-ins are important to keep you on-track, keep you motivated and help you to understand when your diet is working and when it isn’t but they can be misleading because muscle weighs more than fat. Instead, the best thing to do is take your body fat percentage and body part measurements.

8. Limit your selections – variety stimulates your appetite.

– I couldn’t disagree more! Variety is the spice of life and boredom is one of the biggest reasons that people quit their diets. Eat lots of variety just make sure it’s healthy variety. Appetite is not the enemy, but poor food choices are. Eating still can be a pleasure, just a healthy pleasure.

While Consumer Reports has a good start with general weight loss advice, they neglected to include the following five vital weight loss and health principles.

1. Avoid processed foods and chemicals – they will contribute to your weight gain far more than just high-calorie foods will.

2. Sleep – insomnia will cause weight gain even if you have the healthiest diet in the world. Our bodies need time to repair and restore.

3. Drink lots of water – your body can’t lose weight if you’re chronically dehydrated and losing weight means there’s a lot of metabolic waste. Water is vital.

4. Have a weight-loss buddy. Even if you’re losing weight outside of a program make sure there is someone you can go to when you’re having a weak moment, when you have a major breakthrough or when you just need to talk.

5. Set small goals. One big long-term goal is essential, but having small goals in between helps you to have success along the way and success is a huge motivator. Your goal can be as simple as “Today I am going to have only positive thoughts.” or “Today I will drink 10 glasses of water.”

Consumer Reports is right in that successful weight loss does not come from following rules and that it needs to include lifestyle changes, but they have only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making important lifestyle changes.

This is why our staff of natural health physicians and weight loss experts developed the Enlita Weight Loss Program- to pick up all the pieces that other diets leave behind and focus on you as a whole person. Great nutrition and exercise information along with detoxification, mental and emotional support, easy ways to stay motivated and custom weight loss information specifically for your individual nutritional needs.

Click here to learn more about how Enlita can help you reach your ideal weight.

Dr. Kendra Pearsall is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss. Check out for more great tips on how to lose weight and for information on the Enlita Weight Loss Program.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!

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