The new Digest Diet book from Reader’s Digest is a wonderful example of marketing hyperbole. Can you drop 26 pounds in 3 weeks? Maybe, although highly unlikely. Can you release fat in 21 days? That is an entirely different kettle of fish.
Digest Diet Grabbers
My first notice of this new book by Liz Vaccariello at Reader’s Digest was on the cover of my April 2012 issue of Reader’s Digest. Here is what got my attention:
- Revolutionary Diet Plan!
- Eat To Release Fat
- Drop Up to 21 Pounds in 21 Days
- Foods with Surprising Slim-Down Powers
Of course I had to read the excerpt inside and then order the book!
By the way, there isn’t any such thing as a Revolutionary Diet Plan inside. There are no such things in general. Even the Atkins diet books (Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, 1981; Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, 2002) were by no means revolutionary. The last truly revolutionary diet plan was probably the HCG Diet by Dr. A.T.W. Simeons in 1954.
How about eating to release fat? Let’s say that this should refer to metabolism that drives the mobilization of stored fat. This can be done with an ultra low-carb diet, such as the ketogenic phase of the Atkins Induction Phase. It requires a diet of 20 grams or fewer per day for 2 weeks. Fat metabolism is indicated by ketolysis, which is measured by Ketostix (reagent strips for urine analysis).
When examining the ‘Fast Release’ Phase of the Digest Diet, I discovered that it is scheduled for the first 4 days of the plan. During this phase, a typical day’s consumption looks like this:
- Breakfast: Fast Release Shake (fruits, etc., with about 50 g carb)
- Snack: Ricotta Boat (bell pepper and ricotta cheese)
- Lunch: Fast Release Shake or Soup
- Dinner: Fast Release Shake or Soup
I really don’t even have to dig into the soup recipes to see that this diet is overloaded with carbs and could not possibly drive ketolysis – meaning selective fat metabolism.
Days 2-4 of the Fast Release Phase are much the same, with the main differences being in the snacks. Day 2 offers a Cheesy Rollup on lettuce; Day 3 a Tomato Cream Spread; Day 4 a Tangy Yogurt Dip.
From what I can tell this is a highly calorie-restricted phase with a lot of liquid intake. Reports of fast weight loss from testimonials are no doubt driven by water loss. Fast weight loss is generally water loss, no matter the diet, including the Atkins Induction Phase.
Quick weight loss, of course, is a nice dream. However, it is accompanied by lots of drawbacks (see: How To Lose Weight Fast – Forget It)
How Well Does It Work?
Weight loss can be very fast on this diet. The hype about ‘up to 21 pounds in 21 days’ and ‘drop 26 pounds in 3 weeks’ is, of course, ridiculous. There are extreme examples like this from a small set of people … just one in the study group … so those are outliers. Whether you lose weight at all is the question, and it is an open one.
Whether you lose FAT…now that is to be determined. I seriously doubt it. Even though fat is the supposed target of this diet, there are no results reported for changes in body fat composition. Just quick weight loss.
If you have just one of the typical recipes as an example of what the Digest Diet advocates for long-term weight management, you will not be successful. Why not? Take a look at the following recipe for ‘Pizza with Wilted Greens, Ricotta, and Almonds’ and you can see where the main flaw is in this dish.
- 1/4 cup plus tsp. water
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp. chopped rosemary
- 12 oz. excarole, cut into 1/2 in. wide ribbons
- 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 thin-crust whole wheat pizza shell (12-inch)
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/4 tsp.fine sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 no-salt-added tomato paste
See the flaw? This might appear to be a nice, healthful recipe. It isn’t.
The Digest Diet is not a sustainable program for weight loss that selectively drives the metabolism of fat.
One more thing. The science behind this diet is nearly absent, even though it is purported to be a comparison of the best science from multiple weight loss diets.
Oh, and the exercise component of the book is even weaker than the diet itself. No science behind the workouts whatsoever!
Reviewing the Digest Diet – sort of,