If you're looking for a diet that encourages plenty of produce and whole grains and healthy lifestyle habits, consider the Duke Rice Diet. Developed in the 1930s, this low-fat, low-calorie plan may decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood cholesterol and hypertension by helping you lose weight and keep it off. You can follow the program at a Rice Diet clinic or at home, though you shouldn't try it on your own unless you're under the supervision of a doctor.
The Duke Rice Diet was developed by Walter Kempner, a German-born doctor who worked in the Department of Medicine at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Kempner began treating patients who suffered from kidney disease and high blood pressure with an eating program that was very low in fat and salt, and that included a bowl of rice with each meal. Kempner chose rice as the diet's staple grain because it has a high concentration of essential fatty and amino acids, though many other foods are part of the plan. From 1939 to 2012, an in-house Rice Diet Program operated at the Duke University Medical Center.
When you're on the Rice Diet, only about 10 to 20 percent of your daily calories will come from fat, and you'll only consume about 1,000 calories each day. The eating plan is divided into three phases. During phase 1, the most restrictive part of the diet, you're allowed only whole grains like quinoa or brown rice, vegetables, non-fat dairy and fruit. After spending at least a week in phase 1, you enter phase 2, which allows you to add lean protein like fish or eggs into some meals. Phase 3 begins when you reach your target weight. In phase 3, you can eat lean protein twice a week and occasionally have small amounts of high-calorie foods like nuts and cheese.
The Duke Rice Diet provides a lot of structure, including detailed meal plans and specific portion sizes, which may appeal to dieters who don't want to be left to devise their own menus. If you're able to take part in the diet at a Rice Diet clinic, your health and nutrition will be monitored regularly by doctors and you'll learn exercise and stress-management techniques at classes and support group meetings with other dieters. Followed correctly, you may lose a significant amount of weight after four weeks on the Rice Diet. Diet TV reports that women can lose an average of 19 pounds, while men typically lose about 30 pounds.
Taking part in the Rice Diet at one of the clinics that offers the program can be prohibitively expensive for many dieters. If you try to do the plan at home, the Rice Diet Program main website cautions that you'll need to alter the meals to make sure that you're getting enough nutrients daily. In addition, it may be difficult for many dieters to adhere to the program's strict rules on sugar, salt and fat. Very low-calorie diets like the Rice Diet can cause nausea, fatigue and digestive problems like diarrhea. They may also increase your risk of heart problems and gallstones.
Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.