Come January, just in time for all those people looking to shed weight in the New Year, celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito releases a new book called The Pound a Day Diet. According to a press release, the diet is a brand new, cutting-edge, accelerated weight-loss program designed to help dieters lose up to five pounds in five days while enjoying their favorite foods.
The diet is divided into two phases, both in the vein of the Mediterranean Diet. Phase 1 of the program is a 28-day plan that is “calorie and carb corrected” to jump-start your metabolism and help you lose weight fast. Complete with menus for every day, dieters consume 850 calories on weekdays and 1,200 calories on weekend days, and while carbs are part of the diet, you stick to slow-burning whole grains. By the end of four weeks, you should be at your goal weight and ready for Phase 2, which is where DiSpirito shows you how to rebalance portion size, eat less meat, and add more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
What can I say? The title of this book alone bothers me. No one—I repeat, no one—should be looking to lose a pound a day. [Tweet this fact!] First off, it isn’t healthy. Let's be honest, 850 calories is way, way too few. Even 1,200 calories is low for the average women who is engaging in any sort of moderate-intensity excercise. Sure you will lose weight, but at what cost mentally and physically? Research shows that rapid weight loss (anything more than one to two pounds per week) may lead to gallstones, dehydration, malnutrition, and electrolyte imbalances. Other possible side effects include headaches, irritability, fatigue, dizziness, constipation, menstrual irregularities, hair loss, and muscle loss.
Second, this diet isn’t realistic for long-term success. While a diet providing set meal plans can work as long as someone actually adheres to the menus, it really is hard to follow these plans for the long haul since they usually start to feel restrictive, especially at 850 calories. Life—parties, weddings, holidays, dining out—gets in the way, and if you haven't learned how to create a healthy meal for yourself or navigate through the various food and exercise situations we encounter every day, you run into problems.
I cannot argue that DiSpirito knows his way around a kitchen. I love that in his book that he created 60 new recipes that are quick and easy to make, many with only five ingredients each. His suggestions for those readers who simply cannot find the time to cook, along with healthy and fast cooking techniques, is definitely useful, and I am a strong advocate for the Meditteranean style of eating. But I wish that he stopped there.
As a registered dietitian who has worked with thousands of people to help them lose weight, I understand that people want quick results. But as I tell my patients, “The winner in weight loss is not the person who loses it the fastest, but rather the person who keeps it off the longest." [Tweet this quote!] People who want to lose weight need to want to change their behaviors for life, not learn to restrict. If only DiSpirito would change the title of his book to the “Pound a Week Diet” along with increasing the daily calories consumed, I would be much happier.