What is the Aztec Diet?

What is the Aztec Diet?

By rachel_dietitian on Mar 06, 2013 10:00 AM in Dieting & You

By Rachel Berman, RD

Move over Paleo, there’s a new diet attributed to ancient people. It’s called the Aztec Diet based around the power of the Aztec superfood, chia seeds. According to the book’s author Dr. Bob Arnot, the Aztec’s diet was composed of “the healthiest foods on the planet and fueled one of the most powerful empires in history” including fish, turkey, beans, corn, vegetables, fruit and grains including amaranth, bulgar, quinoa and of course, chia seeds. But, is the Aztec Diet right for the modern-day you?

How Does It Work?

In Dr. Arnot’s words, “The blood of most people on a classic, carb-loaded Western diet has become a poisonous, angry stew of altered hormones and elevated blood fats, inflammation, cholesterol and sugars”… which leads to obesity and disease. With The Aztec Diet: Chia Power: The Superfood that Gets You Skinny and Keeps You Healthy, Dr. Arnot’s goal is to teach you how to improve your health and mood and eliminate cravings for sugar. According to the book, that starts with heavily incorporating chia seeds into your diet. The book also goes into a carbohydrate ranking system for those to choose and avoid as well as cutting out food items such as fried foods and pizza. In addition, the book endorses regular exercise.

There are three phases to the Aztec Diet:

Phase I: The Chia Challenge. You have three chia-rich smoothies for your meals.
Phase II: Accelerate with Lunch. You substitute the mid-day smoothie with a balanced meal of food.
Phase III: Real Life Aztec Style. This phase teaches you to maintain your weight loss with foods and recipes utilizing chia seed. (There are 100 recipes in the book).

Should You Try It?

That chia seeds pack in a strong nutrition punch is not even a question. Chia is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and just 2 tablespoons contains 10 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 18% of recommended calcium needs, and 12% of your iron needs for the day. It’s true, adding chia to your diet can not only help you get these nutrients for health but can help you feel fuller, longer, facilitating weight loss. Many food naturally rich in fiber will help minimize blood sugar spikes and reduce cravings. Studies on whether or not chia seeds have more of an impact that other nutritious foods on your health and satiation levels have been mixed. Also, chia is not a magic food that causes weight loss on its own without additional diet or lifestyle changes as this study indicates.

Overall, the diet is medically sound and places a focus on health, not only weight loss, which is a major plus. And if you feel like you need to follow a plan, the book offers up a two week long detailed meal plan plus tons of recipes which could help get you started on the right foot. However, remember, that you can incorporate chia seeds into your diet without following a plan dedicated to them. And for the most part, making these types of lifestyle changes – cutting out refined carbohydrates and saturated fat, adding more nutritious foods in containing fiber and omega-3, and getting regular exercise – will help you get results.

In case you were wondering, Dr. Arnot has authored 14 books on health and nutrition, is a TV Emmy-award winning medical correspondent and, of note, the Chief Wellness Expert for Lifemax, a company that distributes chia seeds. "