DONATE
FOR PHYSICIANS
HEALTH AND NUTRITION
  Action Alerts
  Breaking Medical News
  Continuing Education
  Health Topics
  Cancer Resources
  Diabetes Resources
  Food for Life Classes
  Healthy School Lunches
  Vegetarian and Vegan Diets
  Reports and Surveys
  Clinical Research Studies
  Health Care Professionals
ETHICAL RESEARCH & EDUCATION
MEDIA CENTER
LEGISLATIVE FOCUS
CLINICAL RESEARCH
EDUCATIONAL LITERATURE
MEMBERSHIP
SHOP

CONNECT WITH PCRM

 

 

    


21-Day Vegan Kickstart

Nutrition CME: Free CME courses for health care professionals

The Cancer Project

Healthy School Lunches: Improving the food served to children in schools

Nutrition MD: Helping health care providers and individuals adopt healthier diets

Nutrition for Kids


Weight-Loss Books

A Report by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
January 2003

A healthy weight-loss plan should go beyond promoting weight loss. It should also promote good health and nutrition by recommending a diet based on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. A healthy weight-loss diet should also be low in fat, cholesterol, and saturated fat, as well as high in fiber, in order to prevent heart disease and diabetes. Diets should be moderate in protein and derive most or all of that protein from plant sources, in order to help in the prevention of colon cancer, kidney problems, and possibly osteoporosis.

In order to rate the overall healthfulness and safety of the 15 best-selling weight loss books, the nutrition staff at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine ranked each book with a five-star system. Using a nutritional analysis of sample menus in these books, PCRM staff gave the diet plans one star each for having high-fiber menus (greater than 25 grams of fiber per day), having at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, being low in cholesterol (less than 50 milligrams of cholesterol per day), being low in total fat (less than 30 percent fat), and being low in saturated fat (less than 10 percent saturated fat).

Eat More, Weigh Less
By Dean Ornish, M.D.
FIVE STARS—Outstanding

Dr. Dean Ornish’s approach is backed by rigorous research published in peer-reviewed journals. Not only is this low-fat, vegetarian dietary approach effective in helping people lose weight, it has also been shown to reverse heart disease. Dr. Ornish’s menus provided the most fiber of any surveyed. This book provides flavorful and slimming recipes such as Spaghetti with Sicilian Greens, Wild Rice Pilaf with Dried Fruit, and Strawberry Sorbet.

Get with the Program!
By Bob Greene
FOUR STARS—Good

Mr. Greene’s book focuses more on exercise than eating (he has an eating guide coming out in 2003). The strength of his eating approach is his emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. He also recommends limiting fat, especially saturated fat, intake. The reliance on some high-cholesterol meat dishes was the only downfall.

The pH Miracle
By Robert O. Young, Ph.D., and Shelley Redford Young
FOUR STARS—Good

Many recipes are low in saturated fat and practically cholesterol-free. As for the recipes that are heavy on added fat, dieters can easily make them more healthful by easing up on the oil. Delectable high-fiber recipes include Hearty Harvest Casserole, Nepal Vegetable Curry, and Kale with Egyptian Garlic Sauce.

Eat Right for Your Type (Type A)
By Dr. Peter D’Adamo
THREE STARS—Marginal

Scientific research has not established that a person’s blood type determines what he/she should eat. Dieters wishing to try one of the meal plans in this book should follow the Type A diet plan which is high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables and low in saturated fat. It is still too high in fat and cholesterol to qualify as a five-star plan.

8 Minutes in the Morning
By Jorge Cruise
THREE STARS—Marginal

Dieters will get at least get five servings of fruits and vegetables, along with a low-fat, low-saturated fat meal plan, from this book, which also emphasizes exercise. However, people following this plan will get too much cholesterol and not enough fiber. Mr. Cruise does emphasize eating whole grains instead of refined grains, choosing healthy plant fats over saturated animal fats, and getting omega-3 fatty acids from flax oil. However, menu suggestions like Chicken Fajitas and Spaghetti with Meat Sauce are loaded with artery-clogging cholesterol.

The Peanut Butter Diet
By Holly McCord, M.A., R.D.
THREE STARS—Marginal

Peanut butter contains healthy plant protein and some fiber and is also cholesterol-free. It may even decrease the incidence of type 2 diabetes. However, peanut butter is also high in fat, which is one of the reasons why this book only got three stars. Menu plans in this book rely on animal products, making them too high in cholesterol. Dieters following this plan will get plenty of fruits and vegetables (a little over seven servings a day) as well as a good dose of fiber.

The Zone
By Barry Sears
THREE STARS—Marginal

The Zone, surprisingly, offers the most servings of fruits and vegetables of any of the analyzed diet plans with at least eight servings a day. This diet is also high in fiber and low in saturated fat. However, recipes loaded with fat and cholesterol, such as Huevos Rancheros, BLT sandwiches, and Pork Medallions and Apples, brought down its rating.

Body for Life
By Bill Phillips
TWO STARS—Unsatisfactory

Body for Life’s meal plan is low in fat and saturated fat, but its reliance on supposedly “lean” meats packs in an unhealthy dose of cholesterol and squeezes out healthy high-fiber foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Dieters would do better to stick with diets that rely on plant protein sources, which are far leaner.

Eat Right for Your Type (Type O)
By Dr. Peter D’Adamo
TWO STARS—Unsatisfactory

Dieters will get moderate amounts of fiber, fruits and vegetables on the Type O plan, but they will also get lots of cholesterol, fat, and saturated fat. We advise people to use their blood type when donating blood and use common sense when it comes to choosing a healthy diet. Researchers have known for years that people who follow a plant-based eating plan are slimmer than those who don’t.

The Fat Flush Plan
By Ann Louise Gittleman, M.S., C.N.S.
TWO STARS—Unsatisfactory

This plan barely makes the mark for fruits and vegetables and fiber, but it goes overboard, in the fat and cholesterol categories with 48 percent of the calories coming from fat and 525 milligrams of cholesterol each day. The plan is also high in saturated fat.

The Insulin Resistance Diet
By Cheryle Hart M.D. and Mary Kay Grossman R.D.
TWO STARS—Unsatisfactory

How can a plan be low in fat and saturated fat yet high in cholesterol, low in fiber, and only contain an average of two fruit and vegetable servings each day? It’s because these menus rely heavily on chicken, turkey, and fish, which can be marginally low in fat but are always high in cholesterol. These products also do not contain fiber and do not count toward fruits and vegetable servings.

The Omega Diet
By Artemis P. Simopoulos, M.D., and Jo Robinson
TWO STARS—Unsatisfactory

This weight loss book claims to be “based on the diet of the Island of Crete.” Somehow, we don’t think the people of Crete are eating Ham Sandwiches, Pork Stir-Fry, or Cottage Cheese Pancakes. Mainlanders would also be better off not eating these foods. Menu plans barely made the five fruits and vegetables cut-off and fell short on fiber. They were also too high in cholesterol and fat.

Sugar Busters!
By H. Leighton Steward; Sam S. Andrews, M.D.; Morrison C. Bethea, M.D.; Luis A. Balart, M.D.
TWO STARS—Unsatisfactory

Barely meeting the requirement for fruits and vegetables (five servings) Sugar Busters! delivers a lot of fat and cholesterol with very little fiber. This diet plan claims that foods like rice and carrots can cause weight gain. We suggest they tell that to Asians and vegetarians, who eat those and other high-carbohydrate foods and are the slimmest people on the planet.

Eat Right for Your Type (Type B)
By Dr. Peter D’Adamo
ONE STAR—Poor

Dr. D’Adamo presents a frankly terrible guide for people with Type B blood. Entrées like Fettuccine Alfredo and Lamb and Asparagus Stew are not recipes to be recommended to anyone who cares about health.

Eat Right for Your Type (Type AB)
By Dr. Peter D’Adamo
ONE STAR—Poor

This diet plan offers a mixture of the healthier Type A recipes, like Maple-Walnut Granola, with unhealthy Type B recipes, like Grilled Rabbit. The result is a diet that is relatively low in saturated fat but only gets one star.

The Schwarzbein Principle II
By Diana Schwarzbein, M.D.
ONE STAR—Poor

What is the Schwarzbein Principle? It’s a low-fiber, high-cholesterol, high-fat, high-saturated fat diet plan that is supposed to allow readers to lose weight and prevent accelerated aging. It will give dieters adequate amounts of fruits, and vegetables each day, but that’s about all they can count on.

Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution
By Robert Atkins, M.D.
NO STARS—Unsafe

At 1257 milligrams of cholesterol, 53 percent of calories from fat, and 20 percent of calories from saturated fat, Atkins’ diet plan wins the dubious distinction of reaching the highest amounts in those categories. And that’s for his “Lifetime Maintenance Menu” (the one suggested for permanent use). An analysis of Atkins’ “Induction Menu” shows even unhealthier results. Starting the day off with meals like a Ricotta Cheese Omelette, moving onto Crab Salad for lunch, and concluding with Herbed-Roast Chicken means lots of fat and artery-clogging cholesterol with very little fiber, fruits, or vegetables. High protein, low-carb programs are linked to massive calcium losses and are not recommended for anyone.

Protein Power
By Michael Eades, M.D. and Mary Eades, M.D.
NO STAR—Unsafe

Like the Atkins approach, Protein Power urges dieters to lose weight by indulging in eggs, sausages, cheeses, quiches (without the crust), and chicken while skipping the foods and nutrients that decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Protein Power’s menus contained the smallest amount of daily fiber of any diet book analyzed.

Books

High fiber: Minimum of 25 g of fiber per day

Fruits and veggies: At least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables/day

Low cholesterol: Less than 50 mg of cholesterol/day

Low fat: Less than 30% of calories from fat

Low saturated fat: Less than 10% of calories from saturated fat

Stars

Eat More, Weigh Less

* * * * *

Five

Get with the Program!

* *   * *

Four

The pH Miracle

* * *   *

Four

Eat Right for Your Type (Type A)

* *     *

Three

8 Minutes in the Morning

  *   * *

Three

The Peanut Butter Diet

* *     *

Three

The Zone

* *     *

Three

Body for Life

      * *

Two

Eat Right for Your Type (Type O)

* *      

Two

The Fat Flush Plan

* *      

Two

The Insulin-Resistance Diet

      * *

Two

The Omega Diet

  *     *

Two

Sugar Busters

  *     *

Two

Eat Right for Your Type (Type AB)

        *

One

Eat Right for Your Type (Type B)

        *

One

The Schwarzbein Principle II

  *      

One

Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution

         

None

Protein Power

         

None

Rating scale:

A five-star rating scale, based on the recommended diet as reflected in a sample menu for a full day.

One star each for:

  • High fiber: minimum of 25 grams of fiber per day
  • Fruits and veggies: at least 5 servings per day of fruits and vegetables
  • Low cholesterol: less than 50 milligrams of cholesterol per day
  • Low fat: less than 30 percent of calories from fat
  • Low saturated fat: less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat
This site does not provide medical or legal advice. This Web site is for informational purposes only.
Full Disclaimer | Privacy Policy

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
5100 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Ste.400, Washington DC, 20016
Phone: 202-686-2210     Email: pcrm@pcrm.org