The Healthy Diet: Rx for Weight Loss Zhaoping Li, MD

Zhaoping Li, MD, Associate Chief for the Division of Clinical Nutrition and the Director for the Clinical Research Unit, University of California at Los Angeles, Center for Human Nutrition Popular diets have become increasingly prevalent and controversial. More than 1000 diet books are now available, with many popular ones departing substantially from mainstream medical advice. Some plans minimize carbohydrate intake without fat restriction (eg, Atkins diet), many modulate macronutrient balance and glycemic load (eg, Zone diet), and others restrict fat (eg, Ornish diet). Clinical studies have shown that a variety of popular diets can reduce weight and several cardiac risk factors under realistic clinical conditions, but only for the minority of individuals who can sustain a high dietary adherence level. Clearly, a dietary pattern that prescribes a lower total energy intake is necessary for weight loss, and this pattern should be sustainable to maintain weight loss. Dietary treatment should be recommended that emphasizes lifestyle changes and is consistent with other dietary guidelines to promote long-term health. Features consistent with this are a dietary pattern low in total calories, saturated fat, and refined carbohydrate; high in low-energy dense vegetables and fruits and moderate in whole grains.