Recently, my sister won a copy of the new book “Shred: The Revolutionary Diet” by Ian K. Smith, MD. I had seen copies of this at the bookstore and on my Amazon feed so I asked if I could borrow it before she read it. What a quick read it was!
The book is basically a 6 week quick weight loss plan. The writing completely surrounds his diet plan and pretty much has no other information in it. There is a quick introduction and then it jumps you right into the diet with week 1. There is a chapter for each week of his diet followed by a few chapters with recipes. Each chapter for the weekly meal plans is pretty redundant. He repeats the same advice each week such as:
- Only weigh in on Mondays each week. Don’t weigh in more than once a week. Always weigh in wearing the same outfit at the same time of day.
- Stick to calorie restrictions for those meals that have them. Never go over. Make sure to read labels to make sure you don’t go over.
- Limit yourself to a max of 1 diet soda per day. Never more.
- Drink a glass of cold or hot lemon water before each meal.
As you can see, these are pretty basic rules that most of us weight-losers have seen before (even if I don’t necessarily agree with them). Then each week, he lays out your meal plan almost exactly with only a few choices for each meal and freedom on snacks with only a caloric restriction. And that’s pretty much the whole book!
The plan is 6 weeks long and he cycles through various types of weeks for what he calls “Diet Confusion” (sort of like muscle confusion?). He changes up each week in the hopes to trick your body into burning more and more fat. That’s the idea anyway.
Each day consists of 4 meals and 3 optional snacks. The meals usually have some sort of choice while the snacks are simply stated in caloric limits (and you can use the chapter with snack ideas for help). Many of the meals have a choice of Smoothie, Protein Shake, or Soup (again, use the chapters with recipes to help). He requires that you stay under his caloric restrictions on those meals that have them (the other meals give you exact choices so I guess those are restricted too). He also requires that you eat every 2-3 hours, even if you aren’t hungry. Some weeks, you have the option of having 2 pieces of whole wheat toast at any point during the day as an extra snack (but not all weeks have this). Many of the meals have a choice of beverage, including diet soda, fruit juices, and water. He prefers you vary your choice here and restrict to 1 diet soda per day.
He also provides a daily workout that is required. He makes sure to include rest days. These workouts are simply set time lengths of cardio. Sometimes he has you split your time into multiple types of cardio (i.e. If today’s workout is 40 minutes – do 20 of one type and 20 of another). He encourages you to burn as many calories as possible during your cardio session though he does not give a certain number or intensity level minimum. There is no strength training in this plan.
There were so many things in this book that just felt so wrong to me, I almost don’t even know where to start. First, let me say though that if you are looking for some crash diet to drop weight like crazy, no matter the cost – then this might be the thing for you, though I would highly recommend against it.
From what I could tell by reading through the weekly meal plans (and I looked at each one), this diet is low calorie, low fat. Doing some quick numbers in my head (and being very liberal about it), I don’t think any weeks went over 1400 calories per day. By the way, this is the lowest I would ever eat in a day (and this was the highest I could find in the book). And just some anti-fat stuff:
- You can only eat the egg whites, not the yolk.
- You are encouraged to drink lots of fruit juices throughout the day (empty carbs and calories).
- You can eat bread as extra snacks some weeks (I would have at least recommended veggies).
- Diet soda and other “fake” foods are allowed (you guys know how I feel about that).
- There is added sugar in some of the recipes (!!!!):
Additionally, this is a diet that is just going to wreak havoc on your metabolism:
- You are told to never go over the caloric restrictions, even encouraged to eat less if you want to.
- You are encouraged to burn as many calories as possible during workouts (all the while you are eating as little as possible, does this sound wrong to you?).
- I couldn’t find a week that had more than 1400 calories per day (this is very low for most people!)
- He encourages you to repeat the 6 week program as many times as it takes you to lose all the weight you want to lose.
In the end, I felt like this book was your basic crash diet. I even giggled a little when I found that rice cakes were one of the recommended “under 100 calories” snacks. (Rice cakes can be yummy but they are devoid of any nutritional value whatsoever). I actually thought at first “maybe I can modify this to make it Paleo”. I was hoping by doing that, it would beef up the nutritional value of the meal plan – no pun intended. I tried to change up the meals and make it work on paper but it just wouldn’t.
And one last thing that I found a little frightening. Here is a snapshot of the back inside cover giving a little bio on the author. Note that he has a medical degree, went to some pretty prestigious schools, and is on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. OMG! This guy has got some influence. I think the combination of this book and his credentials just goes to show that maybe we are all still stuck on the fat-is-evil bandwagon and need a little reeducation.
Now, lots of people I am sure have and will find success with this diet but I don’t think it is a long term solution to weight loss. There are so many better things you can do to lose weight while staying healthy!
Have you ever done a crash diet for a special occasion?
Have you read this book or tried his Shred Diet? What are your thoughts?