The Cookie Diet: Can It Actually Result In Weight Loss?

Update:Since publication, there have been several points which Dr Siegal would like to raise, which were not mentioned in the article and which we would like to highlight. The first is that the cookies are different to regular cookies you would buy in a shop, these are special cookies which contain protein and amino acids which help stave off hunger pangs.

The second is regarding the sentence about multivitamins, which the author has now amended.

The 5:2 diet, the Maple Syrup diet and the Dukan diet have not stayed the course with dieters such as myself for a reason - they seem like too much hard work. So when news that Dr Sanford Siegal’s Cookie Diet arrived in the UK - and was reputed to help Jennifer Hudson and Denise Richards lose weight - it sounded like a genius idea.

Like Chloe Lambert who wrote about it in the Times, I find it easy to pass up chocolate but in the areas of crisps and biscuits, find it very hard to resist.

But - it's very hard not to scoff at the idea of being able to lose weight through sheer cookie power - after all, it is a food stuff that you won't see on diet lists for a specific reason. Biscuits tend to have low nutritional content and a lot of fat and sugar, however these ones are different due to the fact that they contain protein and amino acids which stave off hunger.

Dr Siegal says over 500,000 people have lost weight on the diet.

The rules are that you eat you eat nine small biscuits throughout the day at two-hour intervals, followed by a dinner of around 500-700 calories.

You buy a week’s or month’s supply of cookies (maple pancake, cinnamon oatmeal and chocolate brownie cookie flavour - or a mixture of all three). This costs about £41.50 for a week's supply. Each cookie contains around 60 calories and by the end of the day, you will then have consumed between 1,000 to 1,200 calories - the amount, Dr Siegal says, for sensible weight loss.

The idea is that once you've reached your ideal weight, you will have trained your brain to eat smaller portions.

You are advised to take a good quality multivitamin on a daily basis, and experts behind the diet say: "We would like to point out that the main meal consumed on the plan promotes plenty of vegetables, salads and the addition of fruit as part of a dessert."

Dr Siegal, an American medical doctor since the mid 1970s, who is an expert in treating obesity and researching the link between hunger and the hypothalamus.

But, when HuffPost UK Lifestyle asked two top nutritionists for their opinion, they did not agree that this was a sustainable way of losing weight. Nutritionist Karen Poole said: "I don't believe people are so busy they can't find the time to make a light healthy meal. These diets are gimmicks that appeal to vanity rather than the desire to achieve good health. People are not encouraged to develop positive lifestyle habits but rather rely on a quick fix that I can't see being sustainable in the long term."

There is no denying however, that there are real humans who have lost weight by following the regime. Businesswoman and mum of three Jane Speakman, 52, lost one and a half stone on the diet, and says: “(The diet) appeals to me because I have a hectic, irregular lifestyle - always on the move and the bags are convenient to carry around with me.

“I’ve stopped craving high-calorie foods and am not overly hungry by the evening – although I do enjoy the evening meal.”

A picture before and after of Jane Speakman

The Food Doctor nutritional therapist Alice Mackintosh says that she doesn't agree with the message the diet sends, which is that cutting calories will help you lose weight fast. "Whilst the ‘energy in-energy out’ paradigm does have some merit in terms of losing weight, it is not the solution for long term healthy weight loss and isn’t likely to do much for the dieters energy levels, concentration or mood," she says.

The nutritional content of the cookies is also questioned. She adds: "This is particularly pertinent given that for this diet, the cookies should replace two meals per day. Repetitive eating patterns like this put one at risk of nutrient deficiencies which can impact on thyroid function, immunity, cognitive function and detoxification capacity.

"It is also important to remember that eating carbohydrates like these leads to increases in insulin levels in the body, which is not conducive with fat loss. It would be better to eat foods that don’t increase insulin (such as whole grains and protein) and have more calories overall than to simply eat these cookies alone. Such a substitution would also supply you with B vitamins and magnesium, which are needed to drive metabolism in the cells."

The New York Times reported Ms. Kane, 43, a legal secretary in Washington, as having lost nearly 40 pounds on the diet. She said: “If you can make it through the first week you’re in the clear."

Would you give it a try?

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