Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Apparently Endorses Nutritionally Unsound Fad Diet

Bowl of RiceWhy is the AND considered a nutritional authority by anyone? And why do they want a monopoly on nutrition counseling?

Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a registered dietitian and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND, formerly the American Dietetic Association), has endorsed a fad diet built around regimen of white rice and fruit: “The thing about nutrition is you blink your eyes and things change. People are looking for the freshest, the hottest, the latest, the greatest. The Rice Diet is nutritionally sound. Because it’s not the latest and the greatest, I’m wondering if it kind of fell out of popularity.”

What is this Rice Diet? It’s an extremely rigid approach that is designed to cause weight loss and reverse disease, dramatically limiting salt, sugar, protein, and fat—in fact, almost everything except white rice and fruit. Dieters are promised fast weight loss of up to thirty pounds the first month, followed by three pounds per week in the later phases. Originally designed as a two-to-four week “boot camp,” the program was developed by a Registered Dietitian and her husband to become a book, The Rice Diet Solution.

The AND supports the Rice Diet, with few concerns such that it is “difficult to follow” and that it is low in vitamin D and calcium.

There is so much wrong with this diet that it’s difficult to know where to start.

  • First, the reason people lose so much weight is that dieters consume only 1200 calories per day—many of which are empty calories.
  • The diet is low-fat and low-protein, even though healthy fats and proteins are essential for maintaining health.
  • Despite the fruit, it’s low in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), and this may accelerate the degenerative diseases of aging. Many micronutrient deficiencies are associated with chromosome breaks and cancer in humans, such deficiencies having caused DNA damage in rodents or human cells in culture.
  • White rice is extremely high on the glycemic index, which means that rice is rapidly digested and absorbed, resulting in dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar levels—the very things that can develop into type 2 diabetes.
  • Too much fructose in fruit can be dangerous as well. While it’s better to have fructose in the form of whole fruits, people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol should be careful to limit fructose to 15 grams per day or less and even healthy people should probably not exceed 25 grams a day. One way to assess your fructose sensitivity is to have your uric acid levels tested.

This wrongheadedness should come as no surprise. This is the organization that receives funding from junk food companies, and has had professional education courses sponsored by Coca-Cola, where it was claimed that sugar, artificial colors, and nonnutritive sweeteners are safe! The Vermont AND chapter is even wishy-washy on high-fructose corn syrup: “No persuasive evidence supports the claim that high-fructose corn syrup is a unique contributor to obesity, however, like all nutritive sweeteners, it does contribute calories. This is where moderation and portion size become important.”

The Rice Diet, of course, runs counter to exemplary, natural dietary approaches like the Paleo Diet, which advocates staying away from or at least limiting grains (such as rice), since we are evolutionarily designed to eat like our paleolithic ancestors: lean meats, nuts and seeds, vegetables, and fresh fruit in moderation.

In addition, eating in rhythm with the body’s internal clock is important. A number of animal studies and growing research on humans show that the timing of eating is important for optimizing energy balance and good health. Our metabolism is linked to the circadian rhythm of our genes. There can be health consequences when our body’s clock is out of rhythm. For example, the brain receives one signal at nighttime that the lack of light means it is time to sleep, but late-night eating and the use of artificial light (particularly from our beloved electronics) give the body another signal that it’s time to be active. These conflicting signals can mess up the metabolism.

Research also suggests that eating the first thing in the morning—having a heavy morning breakfast—is not as healthy as previously believed, as it coincides with your circadian cortisol peak. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and this peak affects insulin secretion. So eating at this time results in a large and quick insulin release coordinated with a greater drop and greater destabilization in sugar levels than at any other time in the day. Dr. Mercola recommends delaying breakfast or skipping it altogether, and limiting one’s eating window to six to eight hours a day while maximizing the body’s fasting time (up to sixteen or even eighteen hours, including sleep).

Our advice? Study this fascinating subject on your own. In particular, check out Ignore the AND’s bizarre idea of “nutrition” and focus instead on good, high-quality proteins, healthy fats (including but not limited to omega-3s), lots of fresh, non-starchy organic vegetables, plenty of exercise and clean air, and plenty of sleep.


  1. In my long life I have never seen anything to indicate that any “nutritionist” has any idea what a healthy diet really is.

  2. Clearly this is part of the full-employment-for-dieticians plan. The same plan that pushes attacks on nutritionists who attempt to share nutrition and health information with the public. Sadly, this is about lining the pockets of a few at the expense of the public. Not only will this diet push people into diabetes, but the weight will come back plus additional pounds.

  3. Let’s not forget the fact that much of the rice is now GM and so are the fruits. What Nutritionist would tell their people to eliminate nutrition and let the body suffer for vanity sake, because it can’t be for health reasons. That’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul.
    Moringa the Super Super food is helping people loose weight just by getting the total proper nutrition which feed the body and it doesn’t crave the extras. Zija International provides a system that is all natural and certified organic.

  4. The rice diet was designed by Duke University for people in danger of heart disease. But only for 4 days. One can actually still read all about it by going to the website of Duke Unversity. It is by no means a diet one just undertake for a longer period. One should strictly follow the direction from Duke University description. I have done it over the years a few times and it did set my body right – I felt well – and then followed with healthful eating every day.

  5. So is there a nutritional organization for truly healthy nutrition that contradicts the AND, and that those interested in nutrition could join or even become accredited by?

    1. There are several sources for good nutrition advice; The National Assoc. of Nutritional Professionals has many health professionals who understand the value of eating real food, not fad diets to gain/lose and maintain healthy weight. Establishing good eating habits needs education and coaching to assist most people in understanding the balance and forethought that goes into buying and preparing meals. And every one of us is biochemically individual so 1 diet does not fit all.
      As a long time member of NANP, and a Certified, Licensed Nutritionist and Health Coach, I hear about all sorts of food fads, including doctors’ recommendations for eating Tums for calcium. Dumb!
      Our health system needs to integrate Western and Holistic approaches to health. CNs are usually far more holistic and understand that fads and most diets don’t work.
      Our government could use a dose of common sense relating to the lack of proof that GMO foods are “safe for human consumption”. If so, why not label all that garbage so we as consumers have choices? We need strong lobbyists with common sense to oppose the unhealthy bills and “laws” that have allowed our foods to be contaminated, adulterated all for the sake of greater production.

  6. Although I don’t care for the organization and especially don’t care for the strong arm tactics where they try to make themselves the sole authority on nutrition, still I have to say I don’t believe this rice diet is as bad as the author asserts. First, recall some fruits not usually thought of as fruits: tomatoes, squash, okra, eggplant, avocado, peppers, cucumbers, olives – so not all fruits are high in fructose. As to the rice itself, there are knowledgeable people such as Dr. McDougall who make a good solid case for this type of eating. Personally, I believe it is healthier than the Paleo diet which supposes to offer foods eaten long ago by our cave man ancestors, but the evidence is sketchy that they actually ate this way. The meats they ate were certainly not corn-fed, antibiotic filled like today for example and no milk or cheese or oil, and I am pretty sure they ate whatever wouldn’t kill them whenever they could get it. In season. Those near the ocean ate a lot of fish I would guess. Just common sense.

  7. Dr. Mercola is bad,bad,bad,bad.
    I have hypoglycemia.
    Many other people have hypoglycemia.
    And most of us do much better when we do NOT “maximize fasting time.”
    We need frequent,small meals.
    And we do need a breakfast.
    His “help?”
    For us?
    It is bad at best.

  8. Why rice? Any low calorie diet also means a low intake of vital nutrients which is very dangerous with out vitamin supplements especially the most important of all, vitamin C. Do the research!
    Why not seeds? Raw quinoa, hemp, chia, sesame, sunflower, nuts of all kinds are store house of nutrients. Most spices are a rich source of nutrients including the seeds of many spices.
    Raw seeds are one of the most complete foods available. Seeds do not contain vitamin C, but is the first thing made when they sprout. Do the research. Knowledge is power.
    Raw organic is best, pasteurization, irradiation and microwave kill all water soluble vitamins. I take one or two tablespoons a day washed down with water or juice. Great energy without a lot fat producing calories.

  9. Agree on everything in this article except for Dr. Mercola’s opinion that skipping breakfast and eating between only 6-8 hours is, in my opinion, just completely off base. One should focus on breakfast foods that do not spike blood sugar such as Irish cut oatmeal with flax. There have been multiple studies that show those who eat healthy breakfasts compared to skipping breakfast have healthier BMIs. Dr. Mercola’s plan seems like it would be particularly dangerous for diabetics. Anecdotally, my patients who have BMIs greater than 35 do not eat breakfast. Instead, they eat one or two meals (noon and 7) daily. Sounds like they’re following Dr. Mercola’s plan for timing. Interesting theory about cortisol patterns and eating habits, but this does not appear to translate to real life.

  10. .
    These same dietary experts also recommend white bagels and quick cooking oats to their diabetic patients. Very strange indeed that any health professional today would trust the guidelines drafted by corporate interests without ever questioning and doing their own research.
    I’ve had my melatonin levels studied over a two week period by my doctor. Anyone who has sleep troubles or works at night or has taken certain medications that disrupt circadian rhythm ( SSRI antidepressents) should get this test. I learned a lot about myself and the critical importance of healthy sleep/wake patterns and diet.

  11. Yep, the people whose diets are the BEST shot in the US to get malnourished – hospitals strike again.
    Letters behind one’s name don’t mean wisdom, intelligence, and certainly not compassion

  12. I think it’s because if the dieticians get shown up by the people who truly do know and care about real nutrition, not only will they lose money/employment but it might be a domino effect that leads into the healthcare and health insurance fields. That could have a lot of economic ramifications and I’m sure that is a big reason why all sorts of alternative and holistic practices become regulated or outlawed. Nothing like the truth and reality to upset the apple cart, right?

  13. Heavy carbs and fructose are not good for insulin health in anyone- especially if consumed on a daily basis. Clearly, the authorities are showing their nutrition ignorance.

  14. Hey now. Although all AND members are dietitians, not all dietitians are AND members. Also for many that are members, they are not happy about some of the practices the AND have been doing (e.g. ‘junk food’ corporate sponsers).
    Also please do not generalize all registered dietitians. Like any profession some are bad, some are very good and some are just plain wackos. I’m an RD and I admit I don’t know it all. Even in my own expertize I don’t know it all. There are many knowledgeable so called ‘experts’ in nutrition that are not RDs and there are some that are.
    Anyway I don’t even know why I’m here. I was searching for something else and stumbled upon this page. I could have easily come in here and be nasty but what would that accomplish? I’ll keep the hatoratde bottled up.
    I’m pretty sure at the individual level, putting ego aside if we put many type of nutrition educators and ‘experts’ together in a giant room without having to know the letters after our name, talking about general healthful eating and improving the health of public, I’m pretty sure we’ll get together just fine. Yes we will have our differences in opinions, but we will all have the common goal of wanting to help others live a more healthier lifestyle and take responsibility of what they put in their mouth.

  15. I love what you guys are up too. This sort of clever work and reporting!
    Keep up the very good works guys I’ve added you guys to
    my personal blogroll.

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