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Fit for Life is a combination diet diet that emphasizes eating foods in the correct combination and avoiding the wrong combinations of foods rather than counting calories or controlling portion size. Several aspects of this diet have been disputed by dietitians and nutritionists.
Fit for Life is the creation of Harvey and Marilyn Diamond. The diet first came to the attention of the public in the mid-1980s with the publication of the book Fit for Life, which has sold millions of copies. On the official Fit for Life website, Diamond claims that the diet “spawned juice and salad bars, fruit sellers on the streets of New York, and the juice industry.” He also claims the book “launched a nutritional awakening in the United States and other Western countries.”These are impressive claims for a book written by a man whose “doctoral degree” came from the American College of Life Science, a non-accredited correspondence school founded in 1982 by a high school dropout.
Diamond has appeared on dozens of television talk shows explaining his theories on how eating foods in the correct combination and avoiding the “wrong”combinations of food can bring about weight loss without calorie counting or exercise. In the 2000s, the Fit for Life system added the Personalized FFL Weight Management Program. This program uses what they call Biochemical Analyzation, Metabolic Typing and Genetic Predispositions to individualize and personalize the dietary protocols. The resulting diet is said to be effective only for one specific.
individual and can be used for that person’s entire life. Diamond has also begun selling nutritional supplements, many of which are strongly recommended in his newest version of the Fit for Life system.
Fit for Life is a food combining diet based on the theory that to lose weight, one must not eat certain foods together. The philosophy behind the diet comes from Diamond’s interest in natural hygiene, an offshoot of naturopathic medicine. In his original book, Diamond claimed that if a person ate foods in the wrong combination, they would “rot”in the stomach. He also categorized foods as “dead foods”that “clog”the body and “living foods” that cleanse the body. The newest version of Fit for Life talks less about rotting, dead, and living foods and more about “enzyme deficient foods.”However, the general message about food combining is the same.
According to Diamond, dead foods are meats and starches. Living foods are raw fruits and vegetables. His diet plan requires that these foods not be eaten together. Some of the Fitness for Life rules include:
- Only fruit and fruit juice should be eaten from the time one awakes until noon. Fruits cleanse the body
- Fruits are good for health only if they are eaten alone.They should never be eaten with any other food
- Lunch and dinner can consist of either carbohydrates and vegetables or proteins and vegetables
- Carbohydrates and proteins should never be put in the stomach at the same time
- No dairy foods should ever be eaten
- Water should never be drunk at meals
- One day each week (the same day every week) is a free day, when the individual can eat whatever he or she wants.”
The goal of the Fit for Life diet is to help people lose weight and keep their body healthy through diet. Diamond states that people do not gain weight because they eat too many calories and exercise too little. Instead, he considers the cause of weight gain to be eating protein-rich foods at the same time as carbohydrate-rich foods. He argues that enzymes that digest proteins interfere with enzymes that digest carbohydrates, and therefore, these two foods should not be eaten together. His program makes little mention of the role of different types of fats—saturated, unsaturated, and transfat—in diet, dietary fiber, the role of water in health, or of the need to exercise.
The Fit for Life program says it is a lifestyle program that will teach people to be healthier. Along with the personalized diet program, dieters get a “Clinical Manual”that claims to teach them how their body works, what is healthy for them, and what is not. The program is heavily infused with an alternative medicine approach to health and diet, and many of the explanations it gives for the way the body works are scientifically questionable and not accepted by practitioners of conventional medicine.
The benefits claimed by Fit for Life are not supported by any scholarly research and are, in fact, refuted by some research (see below). The main claim, supported by testimonials and before and after pictures, is that people who follow Fit for Life will lose weight and keep it off. Along with weight loss will come a gnereral improvement in health. The official Fit for Life Website claims an “86% success rate”and mentions “clinical trials”without providing any details.
Some benefits of the plan are that it encourages people to increase their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Unlike some diets, Fit for Life that it does not require dieters to buy special foods, keeping food costs moderate. It does, however, encourage dieters to purchase enzyme supplements from Fit for Life Industries.
The Fit for Life Web site is heavy on the theory behind the Fit for Life diet, but give few specifics on how the diet cam be put into effect in daily life. Sample meal plans and approved food lists are not available until the dieter signs up for the program at a substantial fee. This is very different from programs such as Body for Life or Weight Watchers which give potential program participants very specific information about diet, menus, and exercise before they pay for the plan.
Fit for life claims that their rules for eating benefit everyone from young children to pregnant women to older adults. Their personalized diet is intended to be a diet for a lifetime, but it does not take into account changes in lifecycle nutrition.
Nutritionists feel that the Fit for Life diet can lead to serious vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Banning dairy products makes it extremely difficult for dieters to get the recommended daily allowance of calcium Calcium is needed to keep bones strong and in many metabolic reactions in the body. Other potential vitamin
Many professionals in the nutrition community consider Fit for Life an unhealthy fad diet. The concept behind food combining was tested in a study published in the April 2007 issue of the International Journal of Obesity In this study, participants were fed a 1,100 calorie a day diet to promote weight loss. One group ate balanced meals containing all the major food groups. The other group ate a similar diet, but tested the food-combining theory by avoiding eating certain food groups at the same time. At the end of six weeks, the blood sugar, cholesterol, insulin, and blood fats were the same for each group. The balanced-meal group had lost an average of 16.5 lb and the food-combining group had lost 13.6 lb. This strongly suggests that eating a low calorie diet is much more important than eating foods in certain combinations.
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