Posted by: Cheryl | 2009-09-22

Weight Loss

Dear Diet Doc,

I need to loose weight - my goal is 15kg. I have been to a pharmacy that offer a weight loss programme and have started the 1st phase, which involves some " natural/herbal"  tablets for increae in motabilism, increased energy, fat loss, lower cholestrol and an appetite supressant. Although I am not too keen on medication to loose weight I have started on the programme in conjunction with a diet which basically consists of any meat, veg, eggs, 8 glasses of water. No carbs or fruit for phase 1.

I would think that fruit is a good diet food but I am not allowed this but I am sticking it out and will see what the following phases consist of.

I have also started exercising, gym, drinking 8 glasses of water a day which I never usually do. My question is: do you think this diet is healthy? Also considering I can have any amounts of lean meat, any cheese and eggs. I have been told that if I stick to it I could loose approx 1 kg a week over the 10 weed programme.
Thanks in advance :-)

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Cheryl
I am aware of this type of diet which is actually a variation of the Atkins diet (high-protein, practically zero carbs) and am personally not in favour of its use. I also do not recommend the use of herbal over-the-counter slimming products because they can often have negative side-effects. The thing is that you will lose weight, but there is no guarantee that you will maintain this weightloss. The reason why I and my dietetic colleagues have a problem with high-protein diets is that such diets automatically will expose you to high levels of fat, saturated fat and cholesterol because all animal protein foods such as meat, eggs and poultry contain animal fats which in turn contain these 'bad' fats which in turn can exacerbate high blood cholesterol and lipid levels predisposing to heart disease and certain cancers. A high protein intake may also have a negative effect on kidney function and leach calcium out of the body. There is also not yet sufficient evidence that shows that these high-protein diets sustain weight loss in the long-term, which is after all the purpose of trying to lose weight. Then there is also the problem of a lack of protective nutrients (bioflavonoids, phytochemicals, etc which are mainly found in plant foods) and dietary fibre, so that using a high-protein diet for long periods can cause certain deficiencies and constipation. So, if it works for you and you don't use it for longer than about 2 weeks at a time, then that is fine. but please be aware of the potential dangers of such diets. You should still be getting at least 1-2 portions of carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index (GI) at each meal to supply you with fibre and readily available energy.
If you find that you cannot sustain this diet (it has a high drop-out rate) then do consider consulting a clinical dietitian (visit the Association for Dietetics in SA Website at: and click on "Find a Dietitian" to find a dietitian in your area), for an individual diet prescription for weightloss.
The exercise you are doing is excellent - keep up the good work. But please be careful not to overdo your liquid intake. 8 glasses of water = 2 litres of liquid/day and adults only require 2,5 litres of liquid a day. Excessive liquid intake can cause so-called electrolyte imbalances which can be potentially serious esp if the herbal products you are taking also cause diarrhoea and/or excessive urination. This combination can wash important minerals like potassium, sodium, magnesium and even calcium out of your system leading to the electrolyte imbalances.
Take care

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