Aztec superfoods, muscle confusion and other new spring break diets
March 8th, 2013
03:00 PM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

For some spring breakers it’s a bad sign that the Girls Gone Wild franchise recently filed for bankruptcy. But hopefully, no one will take this important holiday any less seriously. You still want to be in shape for whatever packed beach or pool with loose drinking laws you might be headed to.

Here, some of the hottest diets of 2013, which may just help you get ready to star in some stranger’s video.

The Fast Diet (a.k.a. the 5:2 diet)
This diet is based on the incredible idea that you can eat - and drink, spring breakers - whatever you want for five days each week, and then fast the other two. That’s because intermittent fasting supposedly encourages the body to switch into fat-burning mode, as opposed to fat-storing mode. (On the Fast Diet, fasting means eating 500-600 calories a day.)

The brainchild of Brits Dr. Michael Mosley (who’s been called the Sanjay Gupta of the UK) and Mimi Spencer, the diet has been a runaway hit. Chef and food writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall lost eight pounds between the beginning of the year and January 18, and said in The Guardian, “I believe in this fasting thing, I really do. I find the whole thing rather exhilarating. I feel I might just be part of a health revolution.”

The 8-Hour Diet
Here’s another all-or-nothing diet, from the ex-editor of Men’s Health, Dave Zinczenko. For eight hours a day, you can eat whatever you want. During the 16 hours a day that you’re fasting, the diet encourages you to drink coffee and tea (“because caffeine is an appetite suppressant”).

What’s more, you only have to follow the regimen three days a week; the diet claims that this will not only help you lose 2.5 pounds per week, but also help reduce various health risks and slow the aging process.

High-Intensity Impact Training
The Brits are truly on top of the diet game right now. A research team from the English universities of Bath, Birmingham and Nottingham found that “three minutes of exercise a week deliver the same significant health improvements as can be achieved through hours in the gym or on the running track,” according to The Daily Mail in January.

Here’s how: Exercise super-vigorously for 30 seconds (i.e., running up stairs), then rest for a short period (up to a minute), then repeat twice more, all within the span of five minutes. Repeating this program twice weekly supposedly is as effective for weight loss as longer exercise sessions. Their initial evidence also shows that participants’ appetites are suppressed by these little bursts of exercise, rather than stimulated, as they are by longer exercise routines. 

The Aztec Diet
Dr. Danger host Dr. Bob Arnot chose the newly popular superfood chia seed as the focus of his new diet book "The Aztec Diet". It’s a 3-Phase program: Phase 1 (aptly called “The Chia Challenge”) starts with three chia smoothies per day; Phase 2 allows you to eat one meal at lunch, and two smoothies; and Phase 3 helps you maintain your weight loss. Arnot says his chia-focused diet gives him “boundless energy, a bright mental attitude and endless creativity.”

Shred: The Revolutionary Diet
If there’s anything I like more than the name of this book, by Dr. Ian K. Smith, it’s the concept of Diet Confusion, which the doctor also introduces. But first the Shred Diet, which claims to help you lose 4 inches, 2 sizes and up to 20 pounds in 6 weeks: According to Dr. Oz, the key to shredding fat is the 3 S’s: Shredder Smoothies (easy way to ingest lots of fruits and veggies, low calorie content), Shredder Snacks (between 100-150 calories) and Shredder Soups (to fill up on fewer calories).

Smith compares his Diet Confusion to muscle confusion, where you switch workouts to rev up overall performance. In the same way, varying your food intake can, he says, boost your metabolism.

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© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Content Partner • Diets • Food and Wine


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    March 30, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Reply
  5. Jokes_on-You

    I dont WANNA eat what the Aztecks ate.If they went extinct,then why would I even take any of their adivice???? The DIED out LOL.They MUSTA been doin' something WRONG (like dyin')

    March 11, 2013 at 8:23 pm | Reply
  6. Checked_Other

    The retired spring-breaker in FL diet: Bowl of cereal in the morning, then go to the gym. Feeling pretty good now, head down to the tiki bar for a few cold ones and flirt with the bartender. Give her a big tip. Head over to the fish shack and get a grouper sandwich and a few more easy ones. Head back for a nap.

    March 10, 2013 at 10:36 pm | Reply
  7. ...

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    March 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm | Reply
    • ...

      Sorry about that. I wasnted to see if it worked. It did! Yay!

      March 9, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Reply
  8. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Is that George Takei on the right? I wouldn't be surprised. You know it's ok to be Takei, right?

    March 9, 2013 at 10:44 am | Reply
  9. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Reading all these comments make me feel blessed to be normal.

    March 9, 2013 at 10:43 am | Reply
  10. DD

    I've got the perfect diet. EAT NORMALLY & MODERATELY. DO SOME EXERCISE. Have a happy life!

    March 9, 2013 at 9:22 am | Reply
  11. Mark

    Ugh, I am usually not in that groups that has a pathological hate for CNN – but on this one, this article is beyond stupid – and worse runs the risk of legitimizes fad diets – exactly what people don't need more of. Eat reasonably, live moderately, workout reasonably, and be consistent – it works.

    March 9, 2013 at 12:29 am | Reply
  12. laguna_greg

    It's all about starvation.

    Don't do it! Don't do it!

    March 8, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Reply
  13. jdizzle1337

    This entire article......

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    March 8, 2013 at 11:18 pm | Reply
    • Mark

      LOL, very original...and very true – an incredibly superficial, silly article.

      March 9, 2013 at 12:25 am | Reply
    • Hunter del Toro

      Are you really bald?

      March 9, 2013 at 12:26 am | Reply
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

        You do know that's Captain Picard?

        March 9, 2013 at 10:37 am | Reply
        • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫
          March 9, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      NO to your Jdizzle name. But I approve your message

      March 9, 2013 at 10:38 am | Reply
  14. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    Without even knowing it, I have been on the 8 hour diet for most of my life!

    March 8, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Reply
    • Sha

      I have been too!

      March 11, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  15. jonathan reddish

    everything in this article is false...... no wonder people are confused... get the facts, intermittent fasting is a bodybuilders technique. not for couch potatoes..... and its high intensity INTERVAL training, (not impact )... this is laughable, and it needs to be for an hour at a time, not 5 minutes..... total bull#***....... god CNN sucks big time!

    March 8, 2013 at 10:15 pm | Reply
    • David Spayed

      CNN sucks? For giving you an article (information that you can digest as you see fit)? I'm glad you have all the answers and know exactly how everything works. One thing you may not know: exercise reduces sress. I recommend you exercise more.

      March 9, 2013 at 12:33 am | Reply
      • jonathan reddish

        stuff it david. facts are a minimal requirement from news corps. not fluffed BS.

        March 9, 2013 at 1:28 am | Reply
  16. Steve

    Walk.

    March 8, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Reply
    • Steve

      Hydrate. Fiber. Proper bowel movements. Also I think most people have imbalances in their gut fauna due to poor diet. Without repairing these bacteria colonies, you will not loose much weight even being "good".

      March 8, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Reply
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

        You know you're on a good diet when you can't walk 5 feet without crapping your pants

        March 9, 2013 at 10:39 am | Reply
  17. Addison

    Want to lose weight, and keep it off? How about this: be responsible for your diet. Cut down on the fast food to once a week, and eat fresh vegetables, fruits, and lean meats. Learn how to moderate your meal portions, and don't over eat. It's not rocket science.

    March 8, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Reply
  18. Eric

    Hate to break it to people but most of these tricks work only on the obese who will lose weight as long as they consume even slightly less calories and get even slightly more exercise than they already do.

    However, if you already consume an appropriate amount of calories, and you already get more exercise than walking from your couch to your fridge and back, then they are absolutely worthless.

    It's surprisingly easy to lose weight and get fit. Eat less and exercise more. Once you do that, how you do it means precious little.

    March 8, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Reply
    • andrea

      Amen

      March 8, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Reply
    • Steve

      I disagree. I think these tips can work for anyone. The key is sticking with a strategy.

      March 8, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Reply
      • mgrossman0

        There is nothing in these strategies that makes them any better than regular diet and exercise. Instead of eating limited calories two days a week in the fasting diet, spread that out over the whole week and eat 200 a day less than normal. The 8-hour diet is complete bull. If you consume 3000 calories in a day and burn 2000, it doesn't matter how long it takes you to eat it, you will gain weight. Liquid diets only work because it forces you to eat less calories. Have fun going to the bathroom when on a liquid diet. Just eat right and exercise. That's the secret tip.

        March 9, 2013 at 1:08 am | Reply
      • Cecil Burrow

        You are free to disagree, but it would help if you pointed to even a shred of scientific evidence for any of these diets.

        March 9, 2013 at 7:26 am | Reply
    • too_cute

      Yup. People are looking for an easy way out.

      March 8, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Reply
  19. buffalo

    To paraphrase P.T. Barnum: There is an overweight sucker born every minute. You'll lose weight alright. Especially around your wallet area.

    March 8, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Reply
  20. Chris Christie

    I have tried all of these diets, and they have failed. But I promise I won't be a failure if you vote for me as president! I just hope the North Koreans don't distract me with donuts .... mmmm, donuts ....

    March 8, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Reply
    • Michael Moore

      LOL!

      March 8, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Reply
    • Michelle Obama

      Nice try Christie! The best strategy is to encourage kids everywhere to plant their own gardens and eat fruits and vegetables, and try to make sure your surreptitious trips to the burger joint are not made public.

      March 9, 2013 at 2:33 am | Reply
  21. TooFat

    Ugh! I hardly eat anything and I continue to get fat. Thanks Obama!

    March 8, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Reply
    • Chloé

      Apparently all that fat has gone to your brain.

      March 8, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Reply
    • Paula

      Stop eating in McDonald's, that works

      March 9, 2013 at 1:12 am | Reply
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      So you were skinny when dubya was prez? LOL

      You were fat when Reagan was in office

      March 9, 2013 at 10:41 am | Reply
  22. Bob

    lets see.... bs....bs....bs....bs....and bs. How about eating a normal balanced diet and exercising every once in a while??

    March 8, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  23. David David

    What ? I want my 3 minutes back from reading this. NOTHING can substitute for hitting the gym 5 days a week and sticking to a decent diet. I'm not a diet czar who deprives myself of fatty foods. I indulge in a fat porterhouse steak from time to time, and actually plan on drinking a 6 pack tonight ; but 85% of the time, it's nothing but fish, bnls sknls chicken, veggies, and fruit ; all washed down with NOTHING BUT WATER. Water is the drink of choice for me 98% of the time. Caffeine dehydrates muscles and accelerates the heart. The world needs to stop looking for ways to avoid the gym. Losing weight is simple ; burn more than you consume. The end.

    March 8, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Reply
  24. ThomasT

    1. Turn off TV, computer
    2. Get up and move, join a gym or just walk/jog/run
    3. Eliminate fast food, sugar filled drinks, bad fats, high sodium, limit alcohol/smoking, etc. etc.
    4. Eat healthier, portion sizes of meals, add vegetables/fruits
    5. Save $$$ not following the next useless fad.

    March 8, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Reply
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      I'm the laziest mofo alive and I'm 5'9" 165 lbs. Your logic is not sound.

      March 9, 2013 at 10:42 am | Reply
  25. Toreby

    If you consume less calories than you burn then you lose weight. It's really that simple.

    March 8, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Reply
    • doctorantifattie

      Truth. Calories in versus calories used. The fatties don't want to listen though. They'd rather hear that it isn't their own fault, or that they aren't lazy. Anything but the truth.

      March 8, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Reply
  26. Drew

    These all sound terrible. How can you know something slows the aging process when it has been around for five minutes? The shredder diet just promotes a brand, and you can't call it Three S's when they're all the same stupid word. This stuff is insanely irresponsible!

    Calisthenics and food with ingredients you can pronounce. How hard is that?

    March 8, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Reply
    • Drew

      And yes, if you peel away Shredder, smoothies, snacks, and soups are just as dumb for a diet.

      March 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Reply
  27. FridayFriday

    I eat low-calorie, low-carb 6 days a week and eat whatever the heck I want 1 day a week. My grocery bill is super cheap because I basically eat the same thing every day and only eat out once or twice on my free day. My 6-day diet primarily consists of spinach, eggs, coconut oil, romaine, chicken, fish, and broccoli. It works!

    March 8, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Reply
    • Bob

      4-hour diet? What does the coconut oil do?

      March 8, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Reply
      • Eric

        Unlike most dietary fats, which are long-chain triglycerides, coconut oil is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT). MCT's are metabolized very quickly by the liver, rendering their energy content immediately available be for expenditure, rather than being stored for later use.

        March 8, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  28. Striker

    Am I the only one a little disturbed by the picture? WTF where are the hot chicks. Why must I stare at the moobs of three old guys. This is a diet article, the rules of online media demand pictures of women who have never been overweight.

    March 8, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Reply
  29. Cecil Burrow

    The 'Sanjay Gupta of the UK' – ah ok, so a pseudo-doctor who acts as a shill for the latest fad for money? Got it.

    March 8, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Reply
    • Ganesh

      excellent, well said. He is a total BS

      March 8, 2013 at 11:24 pm | Reply
  30. Cander

    Or you could just eat less calories and fat, do a little exercise, and stop latching onto the latest diet fads.

    March 8, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Reply
  31. LG

    Reblogged this on Plateful of Soul and commented:
    Some great info in here about some recent Fad Diets getting some media these days.

    March 8, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Reply

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