If you haven’t been living under a rock these past few weeks, you’ve heard of Taco Bell’s Drive-Thru Diet. Christine Dougherty lost 54 pounds on the “Drive-Thru Diet” –consuming Taco Bell Fresco menu items. I’ve received several inquires as to the safety and feasibility of this “diet” from patients, friends, and co-workers alike. Even my itty bitty friend in Cincinnati sent me a Facebook message last night suggesting the Drive-Thru Diet as a topic of blog discussion (thank you, Mar!) :). So, here we are!
What we don’t know are the details of Christine’s intake. How many times a day was she eating Taco Bell’s Fresco items? How many at a time? What was she consuming “sensibly” outside of the Fresco items? What we do know (supposedly), is that Christine “lost 54 pounds,” “reduced her intake by 500 calories a day,” and “consumed 1250 calories a day”.
Drive-Thru Diet Flaws:
1. Calorie consumption. Assuming Christine weighed approximately 180 pounds to start (a safe assumption with a 54-pound weight loss), a basal energy calculation would calculate Christine’s energy needs to be 1540-1689 calories a day. Assuming Christine performs “seated work with little movement and little or no leisure activity” her requirements would increase to 2156-2377 calories a day. Subtracting 500 calories a day to produce a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories per week (1 pound ~ 3,500 calories), Christine’s needs would equate to 1656-1877 calories a day, leading me to the belief that 1250 calories per day is inadequate for Christine. This information, again, is based off a starting weight of ~180 pounds, assumes no physical activity, and was calculated using the FAO/WHO BEE equation with an activity factor of 1.4, suggested by the Manual of Clinical Dietetics put out by the American Dietetic Association.
2. Sodium. The sodium content in a single Fresco item ranges from 600 milligrams to 1410 milligrams. A recommended intake for adults without chronic health conditions such as hypertension, suggests 2,300 milligrams a day.
3. Fiber. One item on the Fresco menu contains 11 grams of fiber (!), but the remaining options contain a mere 2-8 grams. Most of the Fresco menu items contain a meager 2-3 grams of fiber.
4. Vitamins and minerals. A variety of fruits and vegetables is required to intake adequate vitamins and minerals each day. Lettuce and tomatoes every day isn’t what I would call variety, you?
5. Feasibility. Is eating off the Taco Bell Fresco menu a time or two each day any way to live? Cheap and maybe convenient, sure, but don’t we all enjoy some variety in our diets? As much as I love both tacos and burritos, I need not eat one, or the other, or both EVERY day to lose OR maintain weight. PASS!
6. Gimmick. Some of the Fresco menu items are a nearly insignificant 50 calories less than their standard menu counterparts. If you replace the cheese on a Taco Bell taco with salsa*, you get a Taco Bell Fresco taco. SURPRISE! (*this is what they do)
7. Preying on the weak. If you go to the Drive-Thru Diet website, you can’t miss this statement, “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.” Even Taco Bells knows what it takes to lose weight, and it’s not Taco Bell.
Words of wisdom: Bite it, write it. Eat less, move more. Limit preservatives and eat cleaner, less processed foods. Include variety with a diet high in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Consume healthy fats such as those found in nuts, oils, and seeds.
When I first heard a commercial for the Drive-Thru Diet, I laughed….nearly uncontrollably. While I wish nothing more than for anyone and everyone to reach their health, nutrition, and fitness goals, I strongly discourage the Drive-Thru Diet as a means of reaching your goals. In opposition to the Drive-Thru site, I do not encourage anyone to make “Frescoluctions” (laaaaaame).
Questions: What do you think is the biggest flaw in the Drive-Thru Diet? Do you think the popularity of the Fresco menu will increase? And, I shudder to ask, but do you know anyone attempting to lose weight on Taco Bell’s Drive-Thru Diet?