Sunday, March 29, 2009

Diet: The Rice Diet Solution

The Rice Diet Solution

By Kathleen M. Zelman MPH RD LD
WebMD Expert Review
The Rice Diet Solution: What It Is

The Rice Diet Solution is an extremely rigid approach to reverse disease and cause weight loss. The detailed food plan severely limits salt, sugar, fat, and processed foods and causes rapid weight loss. Dieters are promised fast weight loss of 20-30 pounds the first week followed by 2.5-3.5 pounds per week in the later phases. Add the recommended exercise and you can lose even more weight.

The Rice Diet Solution is based on the 1939 Rice Diet Program, where dieters checked into facilities in Durham, N.C., for an intensive two to four week boot camp focused on treating obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and kidney disease.

Due to the continued success of that expensive in-house program, co-authors, Kitty Rosati, MS, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian; and her cardiologist husband, Robert Rosati, MD, wrote The Rice Diet Solution to guide those wanting to try the diet at home.

The plan consists of a very low-calorie, high-complex carbohydrate, low-sodium, low-fat, low-sugar, low-protein, whole-foods diet designed to detoxify, cause , and prevent or reverse chronic diseases.

The plan incorporates stress reduction through mindfulness, yoga, and meditation as well. Hundreds of recipes, weekly menus, tips, and diet advice are sprinkled throughout The Rice Diet Solution book.

NOTE: The diet is not recommended for anyone who has had a colon resection or impaired kidney function.

The Rice Diet Solution: What You Can Eat

Ricers, the affectionate term for those following the Rice Diet Solution, eat more than just rice -- but not much. Though rice is part of the plan, it is one of 30 foods available at any given meal.

The plan allows for whole-grain starches, low-sodium beans, fruits, vegetables, nonfat dairy and very lean protein sources. "Eating a diet high in fiber from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will keep you feeling full and satisfied," says co-author Kitty Rosati.

The Rice Diet Solution plan has several phases:

Phase 1 -- one week

1 day: Basic Rice Diet (800 calories and 50 mg sodium)

2 starches and 2 fruits at breakfast, lunch, and dinner

6 days: Lacto Vegetarian Rice Diet (1,000 calories a day and 300 mg sodium)

Breakfast: 1 starch, 1 fruit, 1 nonfat dairy

Lunch and dinner: 3 starches, 3 vegetables, 1 fruitÂ

Phase 2 -- one week

1 day: Basic Rice Diet

5 days: Lacto Vegetarian Rice Diet

1 day: Vegetarian Plus Rice Diet (1,200 calories per day and 500 mg sodium)

Breakfast: 2 starches, 1 fruit

Lunch: 3 starches, 3 vegetables, 1 fruit

Dinner: 3 starches, 3 protein (or 2 dairy), 3 vegetables, 1 fruit

Phase 3 -- Maintenance. Same as phase 2, adding about 200 more calories per week, until you stop losing weight.

1 day: Basic Rice Diet

4 days: Lacto Vegetarian Rice Diet

2 days: Vegetarian Plus Rice Diet

The authors of The Rice Diet Solution note the diet is too low in calcium and vitamin D and suggest a once-daily multivitamin.

The Rice Diet Solution: How It Works

The Rice Diet Solution starts with 800 calories then gradually increases to the final, maintenance phase that allows 1,200 calories per day for the rest of your life. Experts warn that very low calorie diets less than 1,200 calories daily should be followed with medical supervision.

Clients who go through the North Carolina program lower blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and successfully lose weight. "When they come off fried foods, coffee, processed foods, and sugar and shift to more natural foods, their bodies feel better, migraines go away, symptoms for fibromyalgia disappear, and they no longer crave unhealthy foods," says Rosati.

Originally, the low-sodium diet plan was developed for patients with kidney disease to help lower blood pressure. Today, the severe sodium restriction works to trigger water loss. "The average American consumes 7,000 milligrams of sodium a day and when we reduce that to 50 milligrams in the detox phase one, they lose water and within 48 hours they lose their appetite," Rosati says.

Amy Jamieson-Petonic, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, with years of weight loss counseling experience, disagrees. "You can't blame salt for your appetite; there are so many factors that impact appetite including a huge psychological component that goes beyond salt."

The Rice Diet Solution only allows an average of 16 to 20 grams of protein daily, which is much lower than the Dietary Reference Intake recommendation of 46 to 56 grams per day. Rosati dismisses the national recommendation and suggests studies exist to support a lower protein intake.

The Rice Diet Solution: What the Experts Say

The Rice Diet Solution works best in a controlled environment, like the Durham clinic, with support services, medical supervision, and a boot camp mentality. When it comes to doing it at home, it may prove difficult. Additionally, many of the diet's recommended products are not widely available and require special orders.

The diet "has some good components including exercise, stress reduction, lifestyle changes, and an emphasis on whole foods," says registered dietitian Jamieson-Petonic. "What concerns me is when you eat less than 1,200 calories per day, your body thinks it is starving and responds by lowering basal metabolism, which could set up the undesirable yo-yo syndrome."

Which means such an inflexible and low-calorie diet is hard to sustain, could trigger binging, and has the potential for nutritional deficiencies. It's also a challenge when you eat out or attend social events.

Additionally, experts warn that low- may lead to the loss of muscle mass. "Lean and low-fat protein is important in everyone's diet," says Jamieson-Petonic, "especially if you are trying to lose weight, because it maintains muscle mass and keeps you feeling full longer than other nutrients."

Some experts would like to see outcome studies on the rapid weight loss documenting the long-term effectiveness of the Rice Diet Solution. "The 20 to 30 pound weight loss includes fluids, which do not offer the same health benefits as does losing the same amount of fat," says Jamieson-Petonic. She also believes that the fasting phase of the plan could result in side effects and advises consulting your medical doctor before starting the plan.

The Rice Diet Solution: Food for Thought

The Rice Diet Solution will cause weight loss due to its very low calorie content, but it may also take away some of the pleasure of eating, with its rules and limited food choices.

Inflexible, strict diets tend to be short-term fixes because dieters grow weary of the rules and cannot sustain the program for a lifetime. And with such diets it's questionable whether lost weight will be kept off when the likelihood is that the dieter will return to old eating habits.

The Rice Diet Solution may be a good kick-start to a healthier lifestyle but probably is too difficult to sustain long-term. Anyone with medical conditions or who needs to rapidly drop pounds may want to give this plan a try -- providing they get approval from their physician before starting on this semi-starvation program.