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The Fitness Zone

The Raw, Paleo and Detox Diet - Are they Miracles or Seriously Misleading?
March 17, 2014

Fad diets are always gaining attention in the media, and currently it's the raw, paleo and detox diets. Three people who recently put their bodies on the line to try them found out that there are some downsides dieters need to be aware of.

The Raw Diet

Rachael Oakes-Ash tried this diet, which involves eating only raw, unprocessed foods that are never heated above 45 degrees.

Devotees believe that processed and cooked foods lose all their nutritional value, but this diet also restricts the intake of dairy, meat and fish.

When Rachael Oakes-Ash tried it, she didn't make the full 3 weeks she had aimed for. She explained that the raw diet requires a lot of time for food preparation and meal planning and is difficult without a food dehydrator.

While on the diet she lived on salads with nuts and seeds, raw brownies with cacao, nuts and coconut, zucchini pasta, grated raw veggie burgers and sashimi.

Oakes-Ash admitted it was a difficult diet to stick to that requires near-obsessive meal planning but it did make her think about what she was putting in her body and changed some of her eating habits for good.

Verdict: While raw foods are more nutritious than processed versions, the nutritional impact of excluding meat, fish and dairy could cause problems.

The Paleo Diet

Steve Dow combined CrossFit with the Paleo diet, where he ate only unprocessed foods like meats, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Also known as the Caveman Diet (Paleo referring to the Paleolithic era), the focus of the diet is to consume mainly low-glycaemic natural carbs along with loads of protein. In conjunction with exercise, devotees believe this diet helps to increase health and fitness.

Dow said the Paleo diet was relatively easy for him, but he sometimes misses toast and muesli. He no longer craves chocolate or chips and is losing weight.

Verdict: The reason Dow is losing weight is more likely attributable to him losing the chocolate and chips and undertaking a regular program of exercise. However, this diet could be useful if it is sustainable, but experts advise against cutting out food groups and this diet excludes dairy.

The 101 Wellbeing Program

This is one of the more drastic detox programs around and also one of the most expensive. It's an organ detox program that uses Chinese medicine and runs for 101 days. Brigid Delaney undertook the program and said the first two weeks were tough to say the least, as you can't have any coffee, alcohol or food. Yes, you heard right no food.

In week three you start on solids - but just the odd cucumber and 50 grams of poached chicken. The program also includes daily massage and acupuncture on the organs. After the first two weeks Delaney said she felt like death but looked amazingly healthy. She said she also lost 8.5 kilograms, but wouldn't do it all again.

Verdict: Anyone who stops eating for two weeks is going to lose weight, but not in a healthy way they will be losing muscle as well as fat. Weight loss is always more effective and more sustainable when undertaken through a regime of healthy diet and exercise.

This content is not intended to be used as individual health or fitness advice divorced from that imparted by medical, health or fitness professionals. Medical clearance should always be sought before commencing an exercise regime. The Institute and the authors do no take any responsibility for accident or injury caused as a result of this information.

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