Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another Crazy Diet For Carnivores (and Celebrities)

Humans are omnivores. Unlike lions whose teeth are all pointy and sharp, designed to pierce and tear in order to exclusively eat meat, we humans have teeth designed for cutting and grinding nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables in addition to those lion-esque canines made for meat. So why would anyone think it would be appropriate to go completely the other way, from what is known to be the healthiest pattern of eating (which would actually be little to no meat), by consuming strictly steaks and protein for 5-10 days or more? Read on.

Enter the Dukan Diet. With side effects like terrible breath, constipation, and possibly kidney damage, what's not to love? Celebrities like Gisele Bundchen, Jennifer Lopez and opera singer Katherine Jenkins are reportedly all over this diet, which originated in France. If this diet reminds you at all of Atkins, you're sorely mistaken. No, Atkins at least allows you some colour on your plate; Dukan, on the other hand expressly forbids even a leaf of lettuce. Meat only. No Fibre!? My insides are crying. After the first 5-10 days of meat only, dieters are allowed unlimited veggies, but only every other day until they reach their weight loss goals. Eventually, there's a more liberal phase - if you can even get there.

Our bodies use fats and carbohydrates as primary energy sources - we don't use protein as fuel until things get really nasty, like during starvation, where we start to see muscle wasting. Other than that, muscle is usually spared. This is the body's ditch effort to keep us alive as muscle is critical for a strong immune system and to keep us mobile. When we don't provide our bodies with any carbohydrates or fats, the body uses it's own stores first, which explains the stinky breath as a side-effect. You can also expect fatigue, mood swings, inability to focus and a general lack of energy. Once those stores are depleted, your body might start breaking down proteins in order to make glucose, because that's all your brain can use for energy. That's when things get really bad and dangerous. We're not designed to live like that, and our organs can suffer as a result.

All in all, we know that weight loss is driven by a calorie deficit, which means that you can still have a healthy balance of carbs, fats and protein, still lose weight, and not suffer or damage your body. Come on, people - snap out of it and eat an apple for crying out loud.