If your health goal is to lose weight, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. When you’re at the start of a weight loss journey, it may feel like you have so far to go and it will take you forever to reach your goal weight. This can lead to the mindset of wanting to lose as many pounds as possible per week, even if it means adopting some unusual habits.
The desire to lose a lot of weight very quickly is what propelled the GM Diet in popularity in the 1980s. According to a diet website, the GM diet revolves around the idea of burning more calories than you eat. But it is not that simple. To achieve this goal, the diet involves some unusual practices, such as eating only fruit one day and then only vegetables the next. This extreme way of eating is said to cause you to lose up to 17 pounds a week.
Plot? Find out what Registered Dietitians think about the GM Diet and if it really is an effective way to lose weight.
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What is the GM Diet?
According to a GM diet website, this diet was developed in 1987 by General Motors to help employees lose weight. However, this is not proof that General Motors employees have actually tried this diet. The diet follows a seven-day schedule, with different rules about what someone can eat (and not eat) for each day. But the theme of each day is that caloric intake is kept very low with the intention of leading to rapid and substantial weight loss.
On the first day of the GM diet, followers can only eat fruit (except bananas, which are not allowed). On the second day, only vegetables and olive oil are allowed. By day three, you can eat both fruits and vegetables (again, except for bananas). On the fourth day, dieters are advised to eat eight small bananas and four glasses of milk. For day five, the menu consists of brown rice, tomatoes, and chicken or fish (or tofu or cottage cheese, if you’re a vegetarian). These foods are also allowed again on the sixth day, with the inclusion of vegetables. Finally, on the seventh day, all these foods are allowed with the addition of plenty of fruit juice. Every day it is advisable to drink plenty of water.
It is important to know that there are no scientific studies supporting the GM diet, and it does not appear to have been developed by a doctor or dietitian.
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What Registered Dietitians Think of the GM Diet
“The GM diet is the definition of an emergency diet,” says David Gaviria, MPH, RD, LDN, registered dietitian and doctoral student in the Chapel Hill Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina. As a dietitian, he says he doesn’t understand any of the rules, such as not being allowed to eat bananas on the first three days of the diet, then being advised to eat eight on the fourth day.
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Dietitian Jess Cording, RDN, the author of The Little Book of Game Changers, says categorically that the GM diet is neither safe nor sustainable. “People claim they can lose 17 pounds a week, but it’s not recommended to lose more than two pounds a week,” she says. Gaviria agrees, saying that even if people lose weight quickly while following the GM diet, they’ll likely gain it back. “The diet is very low in sodium and you drink a lot of water on it, so the weight lost will be mostly water weight,” he says. Gaviria adds that consuming such a small amount of calories also puts the body into starvation mode. “That means when you start eating normally again, your body hangs on to those calories because it thinks you’re starving, which ultimately makes it harder to lose weight,” he says.
Dr. Dara Ford, PhD, RDN, a registered dietitian and lecturer in health studies at American University, says there are claims about the GM diet that just don’t make sense scientifically. “Part of the language surrounding the GM diet is that it helps the body eliminate toxins. If you have a liver and kidneys, your body already does that,” she says. dieting that is super calorie-restricted or focused on eliminating toxins is raising some very big red flags.
Besides being ineffective for long-term weight loss, the three dietitians say following the GM diet is downright dangerous. “Fiber is wonderful and most people don’t get enough of it, but the fiber-rich foods on the GM diet don’t contain all the nutrients the body needs,” says Dr. Ford. She emphasizes the importance of getting enough protein, healthy fats, and micronutrients, which cannot be done on this diet. She adds that someone on the GM diet may also experience a lot of gastrointestinal discomfort because the fiber is not balanced with other nutrients and there is more fiber than they consume. at the same time. Along with having gut issues, Gaviria says anyone on the GM diet is bound to feel hungry, tired, and likely irritated too.
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Clearly the GM diet is not recommended for weight loss, so what do dietitians recommend instead? “Focus on eating foods that are good for your body, full of the nutrients the body needs to function,” says Cording. Luckily, she says there’s no shortage of nutrient-dense foods to choose from, and eating a wide variety makes mealtimes more enjoyable than just being able to eat brown rice, tomatoes and chicken.
In addition to focusing on nutrient-dense foods, Cording recommends minimizing those that are nutrient-poor, such as foods and beverages high in sugar or overly processed. She says that doesn’t mean you have to avoid them altogether, but nutrient-dense foods should be the focus.
According to Cording, the GM diet is especially harmful for people who are physically active, pregnant or breastfeeding, or anyone with diabetes. Although these people are most at risk of negative health consequences, this is a diet that no one should follow.
When it comes to losing weight the healthy way, it’s all about going slow and steady. Not only is it more durable, but it’s also much nicer.
Next, find out what 12 trainers say about their favorite exercises for weight loss.
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