If you're desperate to lose weight, you may be tempted to use one of the “vegetable and water” diets being promoted on the Internet or by celebrities. However, before you drastically alter your eating pattern, you need to make sure the diet you're considering is safe as well as effective and you need to check with your physician to ensure it's appropriate for you. A little information can help you make the right choice for your long-term health.
Vegetable and water diets are exactly what they sound like: You eat nothing but water and vegetables for a certain period of time, usually seven days. These diets are also called raw vegetable diets or vegetable fasts and allow only non-starchy vegetables such as celery, carrots, kale and green peppers, while forbidding starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn.
Vegetable and water diets are based on the theory of detoxification. The idea is that when toxins found in food build up in the body, it cannot burn fat as effectively, thus causing weight gain. However, the body doesn't need help to cleanse itself; it can do that on its own, according to Dr. Nasir Moloo, a gastroenterologist with Capitol Gastroenterology Consultants Medical Group in Sacramento, California, quoted by MSNBC.
Vegetable and water diets do produce short-term weight-loss because vegetables are very low in calories. For example, according to MyFood-a-pedia from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid.gov, 1 cup of cooked broccoli contains 34 calories, the same amount of kale cooked without fat contains 34 calories, while 1 cup of cooked carrots has 55 calories. However, if you eat nothing but vegetables, you may get a lot more hungry than you're used to. Vegetables are low in protein, and the body requires protein to maintain a sense of fullness, according to Dr. David A. Kessler's book “The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite.”
Restrictive diets have some drawbacks, according to registered dietitian Andrea Wenger Hess from the University of Maryland's Joslin Diabetes Center. Hess explains to the University of Maryland Medical Center that when people are told they can't have certain foods, cravings result. Since the vegetable and water diet restricts not only sweets and fatty snacks, but healthy foods such as whole grains and proteins, you may find the temptation to go off the diet too much to resist.
Instead of resorting to drastic dieting plans, consider making smaller changes to your lifestyle that you can live with. Hess recommends eating slowly so that you give your stomach time to recognize fullness; drinking enough water; and building more healthy fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains into your diet, while continuing to eat your favorite unhealthy foods in small portions. If you need more help, consider a reputable, science-based weight-loss program or working with a nutritionist.
- MSNBC: Experts Warn of Detox Diet Dangers
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Common-Sense Strategies for Long-Term Weight Loss
- “The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite”; David A. Kessler; M.D.; 2009