A diet that promises quick weight loss, doesn't encourage exercise and requires followers to stick to restrictive, nutritionally unsound meal plans is a fad diet you should avoid, advises the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The Birmingham Cardiac Diet -- also known as the British Heart Foundation Diet, the three-day diet and the Greenland Diet -- belongs in this category. Although the plan was allegedly developed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, officials there say this is not true and that the diet is unhealthy. If you're struggling with weight loss, ask your doctor for help developing a nutrition and exercise plan that will lead to healthy, sustainable weight loss.
How It Works
The Birmingham Cardiac Diet consists of three days of specific plans for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you strictly adhere to the menu instructions, you will consume an average of 800 to 1,000 calories per day. No food substitutions or alterations in the portion sizes are allowed. You're permitted to use any cooking method you prefer to prepare your meat and vegetables, though you cannot use any spices, herbs, condiments or oils other than salt, pepper, nonstick cooking spray, lemon juice, lemon pepper seasoning and mustard. No exercise instructions are included.
What You'll Eat
Day 1 starts with a breakfast of grapefruit, toast spread with peanut butter and coffee or tea with a noncaloric sweetener, if desired. Lunch is toast topped with tuna fish, followed by a dinner of lean meat, green beans, carrots, an apple and ice cream. Day 2 features a breakfast of toast, an egg and a banana, while lunch is cottage cheese and five crackers. Dinner consists of two hot dogs, carrots, another banana, broccoli or cabbage and more ice cream. On day 3, you'll eat crackers, cheese and an apple at breakfast, an egg and toast for lunch and tuna, carrots, cauliflower, melon and ice cream at dinner.
It's likely you'll lose weight on the Birmingham Cardiac Diet, says "U.S. News & World Report," though it's also likely you'll regain the pounds once you return to your regular diet. The required foods are inexpensive and, since the plan only lasts three days, it may be easier for some dieters to stick with it through completion. The menus are basic enough for a person with very limited kitchen experience or time to easily prepare. Some dieters may find the inclusion of typically forbidden foods -- ice cream and hot dogs -- appealing.
According to British Heart Foundation senior dietitian Victoria Taylor, the Birmingham Cardiac Diet will only help you lose water or muscle weight, not fat. The diet provides less than the minimum 1,200 calories recommended for women and the 1,800 calories advised for men. Following the program for three days may not damage the health of the average adult, but it may lead to repeated cycles of gaining and losing weight that can strain your heart and immune system and increase your risk of nutrient deficiencies. The plan does not encourage the development of healthy lifestyle habits.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Staying Away from Fad Diets
- Columbia Health: Heart Foundation Diet?
- U.S. News & World Report: 3-Day Diet
- Every Diet: 3 Day Diet
- British Heart Foundation: Dieting Myths
- American College of Sports Medicine: Metabolism Is Modifiable With the Right Lifestyle Changes
- AL.com: Forget Fad Diets; For Lasting Weight Loss, Experts Say You Have to Change Behavior