Bob Greene’s The Best Life Diet is a diet plan created by Oprah’s personal trainer. Endorsed by Oprah, the diet — better described as a lifelong eating system — can be followed through the book or by joining a paid membership club online.
The Best Life Diet: What Is It?
The goal of the Best Life Diet is to get you to make serious changes in the way you (over)eat and develop a lifelong plan to lose excess pounds and maintain your new weight. The main idea is that if you can permanently revamp your approach to healthy eating and exercise, you can break the cycle of going on and off one diet after another.
“Not a quick fix, not temporary, the Best Life Diet encourages gradual changes,” says Susan Kraus, MS, RD, registered dietitian at the Hackensack University Medical Center in N.J. “There’s nothing new here, no new breakthrough, but a repeat dieter can read it and say, ‘I don’t have to do something off the wall to get the results I want to get.’ And it makes allowances — you can have real food and not feel guilty about it.”
The Best Life Diet: How Does It Work?
Unlike typical diets that promise huge results in the first weeks, you scale into this diet. The first phase can be followed for up to one month; this introduction is designed to set the stage for more serious change that brings weight loss. It starts by addressing the psychological part of dieting, like having you understand why you eat and gain weight, and making changes in eating habits rather than foods.
“Little things like no eating while standing and not eating two hours before bed are great recommendations. Follow these two guidelines and you’re cutting out a lot of eating,” says Barbara Schmidt, MS, RD, lifestyle specialist at Norwalk Hospital and a nutritionist in private practice in New Canaan, Conn. “Eating behaviors are very important. People have to understand why they’re eating, when they’re eating, and what they’re eating. They have to take ownership.”
The second phase is more stringent to start creating weight loss. Built on three meals and one snack a day, menus are planned around key good-for-you food groups. If you do almost nothing else, steering clear of six specific foods or, more precisely, six types of foods, will get you on the healthy eating path and help you drop the pounds. These are white bread and white pasta, soda, fried foods and foods with trans fats, and high-fat dairy foods.
Sample recipes for the Best Life Diet include a peanut butter apple smoothie (breakfast), quinoa and two-bean salad (side dish), and rotisserie chicken with pumpkin and herb sauce (entrée).
The Best Life Diet: Pros
Registered dietitians say the scale is heavily balanced in favor of the Best Life Diet.
- It offers an everyday approach. “This is a realistic, long-term type of diet, more of a lifestyle change, focusing on what people can realistically do. Typically the first phases of a diet are the strictest. Greene does the opposite and has people slowly make changes that are realistic for them,” says Kraus.
- Permanent change is stressed. “Greene focuses much more on the psychological aspect of why people eat. He offers a wide array of personal lifestyle changes and gives that behavior component many diets don’t have — ‘I’m not on a diet, this is my lifestyle,’” says Schmidt. “Greene also has you keep a food log. That is huge, as it helps people understand and identify when they’re eating. If you have to write it down, you have to think about it. Being aware of what you’re doing is a very useful tool for reducing the number of calories you’re taking in.”
- It incorporates occasional indulgences. “If you deny someone something, that’s all they think about,” says Schmidt. And Greene’s approach is more accepting of diet lapses — if you do fall off the plan, you just get right back on track.
The Best Life Diet: Cons
- Results are slow. “People who have a lot of weight to lose and want something strict so they see results right away may lose steam very quickly. They want to feel that their diet is having an immediate impact and don’t have the patience to go through all the phases. Unfortunately, people choose diets that are fads and are fast,” says Kraus.
- Support may be needed to stay motivated. Kraus adds that because results are slower, dieters on the Best Life Diet may need more support to stick with it. The online component of the diet may help. “You get feedback to a degree from filling out the food logs and going into a discussion group. Going online might take the place of eating at home by reminding you to do something constructive. It would work beautifully for the person who is more private — you can keep anonymous while getting the support. If you need camaraderie, it would have more impact more than just using the book.”
The Best Life Diet: Short- and Long-term Effects
In the short term, especially during the first phase, the results of the Best Life Diet will be slower. “Short-term, you’ll say, ‘I’m making all of these changes — why aren’t I seeing anything?'” says Kraus. “Long-term, people start to own the changes they’re making. They have more time to adjust to healthful habits, and these become part of their lifestyle. The diet mentality means many dieters psyche themselves and say, ‘I have to lose this by next week.’ People in the diet trenches a little bit longer say, ‘I don’t have patience to be on fad diets anymore.’ This diet is for them.”