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British Heart Foundation diet
The British Heart Foundation diet is a three day diet that claims to allow dieters to lose 10 pounds in three days if they follow the diet’s specific meal plan. It was not created by nor is it endorsed by the British Heart Foundation. .
The origins of the British Heart Foundation diet are unclear. It was not created by the British Heart Foundation as its name implies, and the British Heart Foundation does not endorse or recommend this diet in any way. The diet seems to circulate mainly from person to person and on the internet.
It is not clear in which country the diet originated, as some versions call for Ritz Crackers (an American product), some call for Snax crackers (an Australian product), and some call for biscuits (a British term). It is probable that the diet developed in Britain because of the reference to the British Heart Foundation and because most versions call for “beetroot,” which is a British term for what Americans call beets.
The British Heart Foundation diet is a diet that is intended to be done over the course of three days.
During these three days the diet claims that a dieter can lose ten pounds if the diet is followed exactly. There are many variations of this diet, with the main differences being in which crackers or sausages are called for. These differences may reflect cultural food differences between the different places in the world that this diet has been circulated.
During this diet, the dieter is provided with a meal plan for three meals a day for each of three days. Amounts of food are specified in ounces, so to follow this diet effectively a dieter needs a kitchen scale or other means of accurately weighing food. The diet requires that dieters drink five eight-ounce glasses of water each day, and nothing else except the black tea or coffee specified in the meal plan. The diet says that it must be followed exactly to result in the promised weight loss. .
Breakfast: For breakfast the dieter must drink black coffee or tea, and eat 1/2 of a grapefruit, one slice of dry toast, and 2 teaspoons of peanut butter.
Lunch: For lunch the dieter must again drink black coffee or tea. The dieter must eat 4 ounces of tuna and one slice of dry toast.
Dinner: For dinner the dieter must eat 2 slices of any cold meat, 1 cup of string beans, 4 ounces of beets, 1 small apple, and 4 ounces of vanilla ice cream. No specific requirement is made for a drink with this meal, so only water is allowed.
Breakfast: For breakfast on day two the dieter may again drink black tea or coffee. Today the dieter must eat 1 egg (boiled or poached), 1 slice of dry toast, and 1/2 of a banana.
Lunch: For lunch the dieter must eat 4 ounces of cottage cheese and 5 crackers. The brand of cracker varies, some versions require Ritz, Tuc, Snax, or Saltine brand crackers.
Dinner: For dinner the dieter must eat 3 ounces of broccoli, 2 ounces of carrots, 1/2 of a banana, and 2 hot dogs. Some versions call for frankfurters instead of hot dogs. Dinner is again finished with 4 ounces of vanilla ice cream.
Breakfast: For breakfast the dieter may drink black tea or coffee and eat 5 crackers, 1 slice of cheddar cheese, and 1 small apple.
Lunch: Lunch onthe third day is 1 hard boiled egg and 1 slice of dry toast. There is no specified drink so the dieter must drink water.
Dinner: Dinner on the last day of the diet is 4 ounces of tuna, 4 ounces of beets, 4 ounces of cauliflower, 1/2 of a melon, and 4 ounces of vanilla ice cream.
Some versions of the diet specify that the tuna must be the type packed in water, not oil, although some do not. This makes sense as tuna packed in oil can contain many more calories and many more grams of fat than the type that is packed in water. No specifications are made for whole grain toast, but whole grain bread is usually considered to be more healthy and to contain more vitamins and minerals than white bread.
The British Heart Foundation diet claims that it will allow dieters to lose 10 pounds in only 3 days. Many experts suggest that if weight loss does occur this quickly, the weight lost will mainly be water weight that will be gained back when the dieter begins to eat normally again. A possible benefit however, is that losing weight quickly may help give dieters the positive outlook required to help them continue to lose weight using a more balanced approach. This psychological benefit may be undone if the weight is regained quickly after the diet is completed.
There are many benefits to losing weight if it is done at a safe, moderate pace through a combination of healthy eating and exercise. There are many conditions for which obesity is considered a significant risk factor, including type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The risk of these and other diseases may be reduced through weight loss. This is especially true for very obese people who are generally thought to be at the greatest risk. The Sacred Heart diet is not considered appropriate for long term weight loss, and losing 10 pounds in 3 days is not considered a moderate pace.
Dieters should consult a physician or other medical professional before beginning this or any other diet. Daily requirements of vitamins and minerals can differ significantly between people, depending on age, weight, gender, and the presence of certain diseases and conditions. Getting all required nutrients can be difficult when on a diet that severely limits the types or amounts of food allowed. This diet may contain as few as 700 calories a day if followed exactly. This is not considered to be a safe number of calories for weight loss unless the diet is done under a phys-icians’s close supervision. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should be especially cautious because what is eaten by the mother can affect unborn or nursing babies.
There are some risks with any diet, but following a diet that severely limits the foods the dieter is allowed to eat generally has higher risks. When a dieter consumes very few different foods it is difficult for the dieter to get all of the different vitamins and nutrients required for good health. The British Heart Foundation
diet is only intended to be done over three days. Because it is a very low calorie diet, repeating this diet frequently or over an extended period may greatly increase the risk of problems relating from deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, or calories. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should be especially cautious, because even minor deficiencies can carry risks for babies who are still receiving their nutrients from their mother. Anyone beginning this, or any other very limiting diet, should consult a medical practitioner about whether a multivitamin or supplement might be appropriate for to help reduce the risk of deficiency. Multivitamins and s! upplements have their own associated risks.
There have been no significant scientific studies of the safety or effectiveness of this diet. Although it is named the British Heart Foundation diet, it was not created by the British Heart Foundation, and the Foundation does not endorse or recommend it. Instead the British Heart Foundation makes recommendations for slow, healthy weight loss and weight control that involve light to moderate exercise and a well balanced, healthy diet. The recommendations endorsed by the British Heart Foundation for a healthy diet are generally similar to those provided by the United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPyramid guide.
MyPyramid recommends that adults eat the equivalent of 2 to 3 cups of vegetables each day for good health. The British Heart Foundation diet may meet this requirement. Each day requires that the dieter eat two different types of vegetables at dinner.
For many people these amounts might be enough to meet the minimum requirements. Vegetables are an especially important part of any weight loss plan, as well as part of any healthy diet, because they are often low in calories but have high volume, which can help a dieter feel full and satisfied while eating fewer calories.
The British Heart Foundation diet may also meet the recommendations for fruit. MyPyramid recommends that healthy adults eat the equivalent of 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit per day. 1 cup of fruit is equivalent to 1 small apple, or 1 large orange. This diet includes two different types of fruit each day, one at breakfast and one at dinner. This may meet the recommendations for most people.
Dairy products are generally considered to be part of a healthy diet. MyPyramid recommends the equivalent of 3 cups of low-fat or non-fat dairy each day for healthy adults. The British Heart Foundation Diet would not meet this recommendation. The diet provides dairy, about half of which is in the form of four ounces of ice cream eaten each night. Ice cream is not considered an optimal way to get required dairy, as it is often high in fat. The diet also does not provide enough dairy, and because the dieter is not allowed to drink skim milk while on the diet there is no way for the dieter to increase dairy intake while still strictly following to the diet.
MyPyramid recommends that healthy adults eat the equivalent of 3 to 4 ounces of grains each day, of which at least half should be whole grains. This is equivalent to about one piece of whole grain bread. The British Heart Foundation diet would provide about two servings of grains per day. These are in the form of toast and crackers, which are not specified as whole grain. This would not meet the MyPyramid recommendation.
The MyPyramid recommendation for the meat and beans group is that healthy adults eat between 5 and 6 1/2 ounces of food from this group each day. One egg or one tablespoon of peanut butter are equivalent to about one ounce from this group. The British Heart Foundation diet may provide dieters with enough servings from this food group.
The diet requires dieters to drink five eight-ounce glasses of water each day, and nothing else except for the drinks required by the meal plan. Generally it is recommended that adults drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water each day, so this diet would not meet this recommendation.
The British Heart Foundation diet does not include any recommendations for exercise. In 2007, the Center for Disease Control recommended that healthy adults get at least 30 minutes per day of light to moderate exercise. Regular exercise has been shown to have many health benefits including decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, studies have shown that regular exercise can help dieters manage their weight. Plans that include diet and exercise together have been shown to help dieters lose more weight than just diet or exercise done alone.
Shannon, Joyce Brennfleck ed. Diet and Nutrition Source-book. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 2006.
Willis, Alicia P. ed. Diet Therapy Research Trends. New York: Nova Science, 2007.
American Dietetic Association. 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000, Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995. Telephone: (800) 877-1600. Website: http://www.eatright.org.
British Heart Foundation 2007. http://www.bhf.org.uk (April 7, 2007)
Get the Skinny on Diets 2007. http://www.skinnyondiets.com (March 26, 2007).
Helen M. Davidson