Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chiuauas Are Great Nutritionists

Yet again I was watching TV (I need to go back to the reduced TV life I raved about, at least in order to keep my commercial watching sanity) and saw a new 'diet'. Apparently, Taco Bell, of chalupa and mystery meat fame is hoping on the diet bandwagon. Their ads feature a woman named Christine who lost fifty four pounds in two years by choosing items from the chain's fresco menu. According to some media outlets dietitians are actually divided about the value of these types of gimmicks. After doing some reading it doesn't seem to me that their actually torn about the value of the Taco Bell diet as much as they're pleased to see fast food chains getting their act together and offering more choices with a wider range of calorie density. Personally I'm not ready to give Taco Bell a gold star mostly because this Fresco menu has existed for six years and they acted like it was the red headed step child until they realized it could make them more money.

Taco Bell does have a pretty decent website with full menu information and I will give Taco Bell some kudos for having a nutrition guide at all even for things like their volcano nachos which are 1000 calories by themselves. Also, unlike the Special K diet, Taco Bell says nothing about how you're supposed to go about consuming the foods on the diet. Three tacos per day? Two? Two Taco Bell meals from the fresco menu and a sensible dinner?

They do include this at the bottom of the Taco Bell (R) Drive-Thru Diet Menu (R):

"Drive-Thru-Diet® is not a weight-loss program. For a healthier lifestyle, pay attention to total calorie and fat intake and regular exercise. Taco Bell's Fresco Menu can help with calorie reductions of 20 to 100 per item compared to corresponding products on our regular menu. Not a low calorie food. For complete nutritional information please visit TacoBell.com."

Lets assume you eat three items in each meal and stick to only the fresco menu, since there are no specific directions. So assuming you're cutting 20 to 100 calories per item thus 60 to 300 calories per meal meaning 360 to 600 calories per day you would have to have been eating 4200 extra calories per week before you started the taco of death diet. 3500 calories is a weight gain of one pound per week. For a six foot tall, 25 year old male 4200 would mean being overweight by 125 pounds. From this I've just gleaned that eating three items for all three meals on the regular menu means being morbidly obese.

Christine's story does talk more about her calorie intake. She brought her calorie intake down to 1250, which would mean she'd have to be five feet tall, thirty years old and about one hundred pounds to be at a healthy weight if she ate 1250 calories to maintain her weight.

In related information: Taco Bell claims that these diet menu items don't have trans fats, but they do contain fiber and protein (beans and meat, duh) so at least there is that, particularly since you aren't going to get any leafy greens on this diet. So thank goodness you're getting fiber of some kind.

Pros: fiber, nutrition information, cheese free choices. Cons: still greasy, cheap not fresh food, a lack of value per calorie. I suppose this 'diet' could be a mixed bag. If by mixed bag you mean diarrhea and a lack of variety.

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