The Reality Diet: A Good, Sensible Way to Get Healthy by Steven A. Schnur, MD
Fueled by reports of rampant obesity, a diet obsession has swept the land. As with anything else that requires committed personal involvement say religion, or politics, people become passionate on the subject. They can also become somewhat fanatical, casting their lot with a particular denomination or party, which in the realm of weight loss means a particular diet fad. Instead of red states and blue states, we have low carb zealots, high-protein promoters, low-fat fanatics and low-calorie devotees. What all of these diet fads have in realitydiet.html common is that they promote an extreme change, a low or high something, which makes people feel that they are going to get extremely good results extremely quickly.

But just as in religion and politics, extremism in dieting can be a dangerous thing. Like it or not, we are at the top of our food chain, which means that our bodies were designed to survive on a varied diet that includes all types of food found in nature. Eliminating one or more can have serious health consequences-even more serious, in some cases, than being overweight. Many people are so driven to lose weight that they are willing to risk even their health for the chance to see the needle on the scale spin backward. And there's no question about it: on most extreme diets, the pounds will fly off-at least in the beginning. But this is generally not real weight loss-it’s water and lean muscle mass, not fat--and in most cases it is not sustainable.

If dieting were easy, we would be a nation of supermodels. Instead, 60 percent of American adults are currently overweight, and half of those are clinically obese. And this is in spite of how often we hear about the very serious health risks of obesity: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, and infertility. Clearly, the weight-loss industry has not lived up to its promises.The reality when it comes to weight loss is that you have to eat fewer calories than you use up during the course of a day. There's no magic to the various restrictions or combinations promoted by fad diets-they're all gimmicks that, in the end, lead you to consume less. They simply make you stop and think about your food - Does this contain too many carbs? Are my carbs, proteins, and fats in perfect balance? How many points is this worth? Before you put it on your plate or in your mouth, automatically keeping you from mindless, high-calorie eating.

The danger in many of these diets is that restricting or eliminating certain food groups also can dramatically reduce your intake of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and fiber that those foods may contain. Supplements are not adequate substitutes for getting nutrition from food as many nutrients are not well absorbed or may not be as effective in supplement form as in their natural state. Exercise must be an essential part of any diet, whether you are actively trying to lose weight or trying to maintain. Carb-restrictive diets that cause you to feel lethargic are not conducive to maintaining the kind of activity level you need not only to slim down but also to prevent heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, depression, and a host of other illnesses.

As president of one of South Florida's largest cardiology practices, I sees patients every day who are experiencing the life-threatening effects of excess weight: diabetes, clogged arteries, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart attack, and stroke. He also sees patients who are suffering side effects from fad diets-dizziness, irregular heartbeat, high cholesterol, even life-threatening cardiovascular events. Seeing more and more of them compromising their health when they honestly believed they were doing something good make many of these patients mad. So I developed a healthy diet that would promote weight loss without hunger and with plenty of energy to exercise. The result is the Reality Diet, a nutritionally balanced diet and exercise plan that has already yielded hundreds of success stories among my patients.

The Reality Diet ensures that you eat the right carbohydrates, the right proteins, and the right fats and, unlike any other diet out there, plenty of satisfying, healthy fiber. Fiber keeps you full, and when you're full, you really don't want to eat a lot of high-calorie junk. Plus, fiber is naturally found in foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

Other diets talk about the importance of fiber, but none of them, especially those that restrict carbohydrate-containing foods, which are your main source of fiber, provides a foolproof way to guarantee that you get enough. The Reality Diet is the only diet that ensures you get enough heart-healthy, fat-fighting fiber. All you need to do is learn one simple rule for choosing the carbohydrates you eat, and in a matter of weeks, you'll be able to throw your fat clothes away for good.

"The Reality Diet: Lose the Pounds for Good with a Cardiologist's Healthy, Proven Plan" (Avery Publishing; May, 2006; $24.95) by Steven A. Schnur, M.D., offers a program of foods that help reduce blood markers for heart disease.