Monday, May 14, 2012

Dr. Oz Wants You to Slimdown for Summer!

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I don't watch Dr. Oz firstly because I have more important things to do during the day but secondly and most importantly, I think he is full of it!  There, I said it!

But I have to admit, he is like a train wreck, however.  I see something he says or writes, and I can't turn away despite all my best intentions.

The train wreck I couldn't turn away from this time was a link I saw via Twitter to his Swimsuit Slimdown Plan.  The article starts by evoking fond memories of your childhood, spending carefree days on the beach or by the pool.  It goes on to point out how many of us avoid these situations as an adult because of the fear of getting into a bathing suit.  The article pulls at your emotions and then reels you in with the common "diet mentality" hook:
You can stay inside all summer, wearing layer upon layer to hide your trouble spots, or always swim in a scuba suit. Alternately, if you’re ready to crank up your confidence, you can follow Dr. Oz’s smart and simple steps to lose weight, feel fit, and regain the confidence you need to wear your bathing suit
What is this amazing plan you ask?  Well let's take a closer look.  It starts like any other fad diet with simple, easy steps to losing weight and a better life.  The first step is to "Sip Smart" with a drink made from 1 cup of grapefruit juice and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.  Sounds a little tart to me, and maybe to some others too because Dr. Oz allows you to add 1 teaspoon of honey to make the drink a little more palatable. How generous of you doctor! The premise for this drink, (which is supposed to be consumed before each meal) is that it is high in Vitamin C which Dr. Oz argues will help burn fat DURING exercise.  He cites one study (no link supplied of course) which found that participants with adequate Vitamin C levels burned 30% more fat during moderate exercise than those with lower Vitamin C levels. I found the study that the article references here but I could find no others that support this finding...shocking right? The final sentence is another example of Dr. Oz's fad diet sell:
Drink Dr. Oz’s secret slimdown drink before every meal and you’ll literally burn away your fat while enjoying a citrusy delight.
Part two of the plan is my favorite.  The "slimdown salad" is comprised of 1 bunch of dandelion greens, 1 cup of watermelon and parsley.  The "diet" says that you'll get plenty of healthy protein from the dandelion greens.  Yes, you will get protein from the dandelion greens but according to this nutrition data, you'll get a whole gram of protein for each cup of greens.  One measly gram!  Seriously Dr. Oz, no one on your staff could Google "protein content in dandelion greens" and find that one gram of protein will not fill you up?  The watermelon is included in the salad because it is a "good source" of arginine, "which might promote weight loss" according to a study quoted by Dr. Oz.  The study was from the Journal of Clinical Nutrition and can be seen here.  I'll let you read the full article but the basic gist is that lab rats (n=8 in each of four treatment groups) that were supplemented with over 1 gram of arginine per day had less fat accumulation than the other groups of rats.  So, arginine MAY help prevent fat mass accumulation (according to 1 study of just 24 rats) but this begs the question how much arginine is in a serving of watermelon?  Well there is a total of  86.7 mg per 1 cup.  Wow, an amazing 86.7 mg!  Stand back fat, prepare to meet your doom.  IF the study on arginine is true and it helped, why would you only choose 86.7 mg of arginine?  If you wanted arginine in the salad, why not just add one cup of cooked lentils to the salad which would give you 1380 mg of arginine, 16 grams of dietary fiber and 18 grams of protein?  Now that will fill you up!  But this salad is not being sold to you for taste or for flavor but only as a miracle fat burner high...a quick fix.

The other two parts of this genius summer slimdown is to buy a $40 bottle of aminophylline cream to reduce cellulite and a "sculping" exercise routine that can be done in just 5 minutes each morning.  Since I'm a dieitian I'll focus my critique on the nutrition content of the article and just summarize these two points simply by saying they are more quick fixes from the doctor.

This article bothers me on so many levels.  First off the research Dr. Oz is highlighting are singular studies on a topic and without large scale validity.  Secondly, the nutrition advice does not support the "diet's" goals and it looks like it has come out of a lab and not based on building appealing, delicious and nutritious meals.  Why would I want to drink vinegar and grapefruit juice before each meal?  Come on! Lastly, the reason this bothers me the most is that Dr. Oz is abusing his MD credential.  He is another example of how celebreties use their name to promote a quick fix to weight loss.  Is this any different than Kirstie Alley or Charles Barkley?  Sure Dr. Oz is not selling any supplements but he is selling himself, his reputation and in this case, a fad diet.

There is no simple four step plan to health, weight loss or summer happiness.  This is just another in a long series of diets that MIGHT help you temporarily but they won't provide any long-term solution.  Your solution to health lies within you.  You will discover your own healthy life when you finally reject the diets, honor you hunger, make peace with food, respect your fullness and stop using food to cope with your emotions.  That is how Intuitive Eating works.  Why not start to listen to what your body is telling you about your food choices?  With some practice you will begin to intuitively know what foods make you feel best. 

As always, I welcome your comments.


  1. Thank you for writing this! I rec'd several questions from patients about cleanses and pdts that Dr. Oz recommended for weight loss and I lost a little faith in him. Personally, I am more attracted to healthy eating and active lifestyles than raspberry ketones or any other diet hoax.

  2. I am not a dietician but I was raised by a practical mom who taught me to weigh (pardon the pun) what I hear from so-called experts. Dr. Oz is using his medical degree to foist nonsense on earnest people who are struggling with their weight. What a waste of an education.


    So glad I'm not the only one...

  4. I was trying to figure out how his "lunch" would ever fill me up -thanks so much for writing about this!!!

  5. Aaron, I have to tell you. There have been many studies on grapefruit and apple cider vinegar regarding weight loss. I've done it and it works. This is nothing new. You were just unaware of it. It actually takes the weight off easily. You should try it before you give your expert opinion because it's amazing. Another thing, you can't even taste the vinegar in the juice. Another thing what harm would you do getting your vitamin c that way?

  6. I started the grapefruit/vinegar diet three days ago at my daughters request. She had lost a couple pounds in about a week. So far I feel like I have a little more energy and I'm not eating as much. Is it working? I'll know in about a week.

    1. Is canned juice ok or powdered juice? Please help. Tia.

  7. I have a friend that has "lost 16 lbs from his amazing drink." She never exercises and eats less than 800 cals a day. It infuriates me that other people are now jumping on her bandwagon that is STARVING themselves!

  8. It's really not starving yourself though. There are MANY meals you can put together to make it healthy and filling. I have been drinking the drink in the morning, eating an apple and feeling good and light on my feet. Then I do the same for dinner but I'll make a baked potato or a broth soup. It's eating smaller portions and managing your diet!

  9. What concerns me is that a Dietitian is the one ranting about this program. The sheer amount of positive reviews on this program are huge. Are you losing business to something so simple that every stay at home mom is trying it?

    Honeys benefits are huge and the potential for weight loss is very good considering the high amounts of nutrients found within honey. Grapefruit among other things is a superfood that reduces insulin levels in the body allowing the body to make better use of food for energy vs storing it as fat. The cider vinegar is nominal as far as its effects but it can help reduce your blood sugar levels by blocking starch digestion. Now mix all these together 30 min before you eat and your likely to eat a little less each meal. Which is kinda the reason people get fat because they eat too much. It falls along the line of drinking a bottled water before you eat so your stomach is partially filled before you start eating. Except the liquid replacing water not only fills your stomach it also slightly kick starts your metabolism and has the health benefits of healthy vitamins a minerals.

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