Color My World

Color is a powerful element in our lives.  Color can affect our perception and approach to many aspects of our lives.  We know color can affect mood, but did you know it also plays an important role in what we eat and how much we eat?  Over the years, more and more research has been conducted on how color affects our perception of taste, and our appetite, and even how it can affect weight loss.

Our early ancestors depended heavily upon color when they were looking for food, knowing certain colored foods were likely dangerous to consume.  According to color scientists, the early man probably avoided foods that were blue, purple, and black in color when they were foraging.  Today, I think with a few notable exceptions like blueberries, we tend still to turn away from foods that are these colors.  Instead, we are inclined to gravitate toward foods that we consider more “acceptable” in color.  While it can vary from culture to culture, people generally prefer foods that are green, brown, or red in color.  Gives new meaning to the idea of adding more color to your plate in terms of eating more fruits and vegetables, doesn’t it?

It’s therefore not too surprising that one of the primary colors researchers have found that stimulates our appetite is red.  Apparently, warm colors like red and yellow can rev up your appetite while colors like blue can actually slow it down, even to the point of making you sleepy.  It may sound farfetched but think about this.  When we eat, generally one of the first senses we engage in sight.  The look of food gets the neurons in our hypothalamus all fired up.  

Studies conducted by the University of Washington on the perception of taste and how it’s affected by color explained this idea even more.  The studies concluded that people learn and become familiar with specific color and taste combinations. Food that looks a certain way becomes associated with tasting a certain way.  This forms the basis for our perceptions and creates clear expectations about how food should smell and taste.  Thus, if it doesn’t look good, or the way we think it should look, we sure aren’t going to eat it.

The color of our surroundings when we are eating also has an impact on how much we eat.  Ever been in a restaurant that is brightly colored and the music is fast-paced and upbeat?  If so, chances are you probably ate more food at a faster pace.  Restaurants that are darker in color and where the music is slow generally have you eating slower, which surprisingly can mean you also eat more because you find yourself lingering more.  So, what’s the answer?  Restaurants sporting a neutral-colored palette where the music is in between a slow and fast tempo often offer the best atmosphere for eating.  

Of course, it is not realistic to suggest you pick a place to eat simply because of its color palette.  However, I think it is helpful to know because if you are conscious of the impact your surroundings will have on your eating habits, the more you can manage them.  Furthermore, if you eat at home, where you have more control over your environment, you might want to consider changing the color of your dining room, or even your dishes.  After all, every little bit helps in our quest to eat healthy.

What To Do When You Hate To Exercise

You may be a person who hates people watching them when they are working out.

You may hate to sweat and feel dirty.

You may be very inactive and the slightest exercise is very painful for you.

You may be very confused about how to use exercise equipment and find it all very intimidating.

You may have a fear of others looking down on you for being there.

You may find exercise boring.

Do you find exercise boring? Perhaps you’re the sort of person that needs a distraction when you exercise. Try reading the paper, a good book or even watching a movie on your iPad while ridding a stationary bike. The stationary bike might not take you to any place, but reading or watching a movie can be a great way to escape to another place.

Do you have a purpose? Having a task, event, or hobby that is connected to your exercise is a great way to stay motivated. Don’t just run on a treadmill, but run to the grocery store to buy one small item. Thinking of heading to the movies or the bookstore? Maybe you can ride your bike the next time.

Can you use exercise as a release from your day? I find that most people who are constantly bombarded with stress are also people who tend to be without a way to properly release this stress. Taking time out of your day for some “me time” is a great way to include activities like walking and stretching that will provide you with both calorie-burning activity and a way to release stress. This will only work if you prioritize this time and treat each session like any other important appointment in your day.

Are you rewarding your success? All too often I find that people who hate to exercise have a pattern of not rewarding themselves for their success. How do you “treat” yourself when you do well? Do you go for the chocolate? Chances are you don’t think of exercise as a reward or you would have been enjoining all the great “feel good” chemicals that come from completing a great workout on a consistent bases and have no need for this information. Your rewards will at first need to be more tangible items and be reestablished gifts to yourself for various benchmarks in your fitness journey. It will even work best if the gifts can be something that makes you feel good about yourself when you exercise. How would you feel to have a new pair of running shoes? Would you feel great in a new workout outfit? Perhaps a new gym bag would be a great gift.

Have you ever wanted to be “one of those people”? Sure you think they are crazy for all the running and all the time they spend training and eating the way they do. After all, how do they get this sort of energy? Is that just built differently you wonder? The fact remands that there is perhaps a small part of you that wonders if you could ever be the one that could run a 5k, run a 10k, or heck even run a marathon. What if every limiting belief, every reason you had for not doing it was gone? Would you be willing to learn what it would take to accomplish such a task? What if you learned that 9 out of 10 runners are people just like you who at one time hated to exercise? What if you made exercise less about what you lose and all about what you gain? How great would it feel to accomplish something you once thought was just for “those other people”?

Are you just not athletic? Is your hate for exercise part of a fear of how others will perceive you? Perhaps you were the person who was always picked last for kickball. Not all exercise needs to be about how well you perform. A great deal can be said about just showing up! If you don’t have the athletic ability or find that you basically have two left feet you should still give it a go. The classes at your local gym might have people there that might seem like they should be on dances with the stars or the gals in the spin class could do the tour de France, but I can assure you they didn’t start out this way.

Could you change the name of “exercise?” If exercise is such a “bad” thing in your mind how about you create your own name and a new relationship? What if instead of exercising you simply made an appointment to “shake it”? Shake what your mama gave ya!!! Do you enjoy music? Do you have an ounce of rhythm? Maybe spending some time with some great tunes and moving your body around is all you need to create some new healthier habits for now. In time you will find it easier to do more. Just by starting small and adding more over time you will feel increasingly more empowered. The more you start to move the more you’re going to want to move.

Are you limiting yourself to just the gym? The reality is that while people flock to gyms in alarming numbers every year as they make resolutions and as the spring and pending summer months come, the truth is most people hate the gym. The gym lacks accountability and creativity. Nobody to ask where you have been and the same old boring stair steppers and ellipticals right? How about getting outside more? Walk away the pounds on the sidewalks you pay all that hard earn tax money for. Team up with friends for accountability and take turns selecting different routes each time I walk. This way you have something new to look at while you’re walking. Great things to look at and great conversation.

Do you have a fitness library? Chances are you have bought one or two exercise videos in the past, but have maybe become bored with the workouts or the instructor. What if you could exchange videos with others you know to create your own library? Or perhaps you could even visit your local library to see what options they have. If they don’t have exercise videos maybe you could donate some and encourage others to do the same.

Do you want to get pumped up? So you might not have an interest in lifting weights, but not all exercise is just about aerobic conditioning like walking and cycling or even dancing. We do need some level of strength training for optimum health. This could be done with weights, or bodyweight training or you could even do this by volunteering somewhere you have to lift things like boxes or pull weeds or even work a paintbrush. If you have not done this sort of activity in a while you will wake up some muscles you have not used in a while and feel great about doing it. You can choose to find some sort of strength training or you can choose to have bone loss that will lead to osteoporosis. Which do you think is more fun?

Ever played musical cardio machines? This is sort of like musical chairs. What if you break up the exercise and set them to music? Just by using an iPod or mp3 player, you can jump from one machine to the next every time the music changes. Any one song is roughly 3 to 5 minutes, and as you make your rotations on the equipment you could easily do a 20-minute workout. The small breaks between exercises will be a great point of recovery and offer some great intervals in your training. The same thing can be done by selecting 3 to 4 weight training exercises or strength machines you can rotate for each song.

Overall you will find that learning to add exercise into your daily life will be a gift that will keep giving back to you. You just need to be willing to make a move! Not all exercise will be enjoyable to you, but thankfully you have lots of options. Read while you sweat, share exercise with a friend, go to your library and see what they have in the way of fitness DVDs, get outside and train or just simply think outside the box when you take on new activities. Every day there are increasingly new and exciting exercise programs available with a variety of intensity levels. We now even have video games that involve activity and some systems even have trainers that guide you through a workout and teach you better nutrition.

The Truth about Detox Supplements

Detox supplements have exploded onto the market in the last decade.  Once introduced as products that could relieve occasional gas, bloating and constipation, manufacturers quickly found a way to make a few extra dollars by marketing the products as cleansing and weight loss supplements.  Since then, the market has morphed into a multi-million dollar industry and the sheer number of detox supplements and products available boggles the mind. 

Miracle Product or Scam?

Detox supplements all claim to work wonders in the realm of detoxification.  They may argue they can assist in promoting better liver and kidney function, improve the overall health of your digestive system, or maybe remove deadly toxins and other substances from your body.  Unfortunately, the reality is that most detox products can guarantee you an increase in the number of trips to the bathroom and a body thrown out of whack! 

While you might think those additional trips to that bathroom are great for riding you of that extra “weight”, the reality is that you are also losing essential intestinal fluids in the process. High colonic cleanses undertaken repeatedly, especially as part of an aggressive detox regimen can significantly deplete key intestinal flora, which acts in part as one of the important lines of immune fighting defense mechanisms.  In a severely depleted state, infections can gain the upper hand, creating an ideal environment for “bad” flora to dominate the gastrointestinal system, which just happens to be the largest surface area in the body integrally involved in immune defense.  

Detox supplements can cause dehydration, draining the body of water and other important vitamins and minerals.  Granted during a detox, we want water loss, but we don’t want dehydration.  Many detox products can also cause an electrolyte imbalance, as the laxative element may contain sodium phosphate, which is known to cause a rise in the body’s electrolytes.  This can be especially dangerous for people who have heart disease, diabetes, kidney disorders, or other chronic medical conditions.  

It’s not a stretch then to see that without adequate hydration and the continual replacement of electrolytes and “good” intestinal flora, all sorts of physical stressor conditions can “turn on” because of the extreme shock or change to “normal” function that occurs.  This means you are at risk of experiencing peristalsis, fluid-electrolyte balance, autoimmune disorders, neuroimmune/neuroendocrine conditions, etc.  

What is even more troubling is that many people may not even know they have these pre-existing conditions before they undertake any type of cleansing.  Then when they do cleanse, they find that those symptoms or conditions are exacerbated, causing significant health concerns.  No question, an aggressive cleansing regimen has the potential to trigger dormant conditions because of the dramatic impact on the body’s immune regulators.  That is why anyone entertaining the idea of trying an aggressive cleansing or detox regimen should first consult his or her physician before proceeding.

Laxatives & Diuretics 

As the dominant ingredient in most detox products is some form of laxative, an increased number of bowel movements is certain.  However, laxative usage is not meant to be a long-term solution.  Laxatives are designed to pull excess water into the intestine in order to help free waste from the intestinal wall.  That is a good thing in the short term, especially if the body is being uncooperative, or if say a bulking fiber has slowed down the elimination of waste.  However, if used for a long duration, laxatives can rob the body of nutrients, flush healthy bacteria, and cause dehydration to vital organ functions. Some laxatives are worse than others, and even pose a high allergy risk and/or contraindication with many prescribed and over-the-counter medications.  

Use a laxative for more than a few days and you are likely to not only damage the muscular function of the bowel and disrupt the natural rhythm of the digestive system, but you could risk the development of kidney stones and possibly experience kidney failure.  Additionally, if you take more than one supplement at a time, or take too much, you could also experience liver damage.  To me, this seems like a high price to pay for temporary weight loss — mostly water –, which will be regained quickly.

In addition to a laxative ingredient, detox supplements typically include some type of powerful diuretic.  Just as laxatives can vary so will diuretics. Again, usage could lead you to assume you are losing weight, but the reality is that the product is simply pulling water out of your body and potentially causing dehydration.  Stop using the product and guess what?  You can bet your last dollar that you’ll likely regain all that lost “weight”.

Bulk-forming agents, which are generally fiber-rich foods such as bran, psyllium, and methylcellulose, are the only laxatives approved for daily use.  However, it is important to note that if you are already experiencing very low bowel movement frequency or hard stools, these foods may make the symptoms worse. The only laxatives approved for occasional use are osmotic agents such as sorbitol, milk of magnesia, and Epsom salts.  If these types are used more than occasionally, dependency may result.  

Steering Clear

Athletes and active individuals serious about health and fitness know that detox supplements like herbal cleanses and colonics are never recommended because of the urgency of bowel movement, possible decrease in performance, and the increased likelihood of Candida with intestinal flora removed as a result of a cleanse.  Even if you were to take supplemental probiotics to offset these negative effects, the ability to absorb much-needed nutrients will remain low until the body can restore homeostasis, and this takes time.  

Some individuals after cleansing find that peristalsis is adversely affected causing intermittent diarrhea and constipation. For athletes and physically active individuals, this means that nutrient timing and exercise performance can be diminished.  Therefore, products such as herbal cleanse and colonics should be avoided at all costs, unless medically warranted.  

If you have decided to detox, and the program promotes a natural and healthy approach to doing it, there really is no need to add any type of detox or powerful cleansing agent/supplement to that regimen.  However, if you do determine that you still want to use such a product, then you need to educate yourself regarding the ingredients. Talk to your doctor about the product’s potential side effects and the effect on your health.  Read and research the product labels thoroughly, and know exactly the role each one may play in promoting (or undermining) your health.  Remember to drink the recommended servings of water to maintain proper hydration, and do not remain on any detox product beyond the recommended time.  Doing so could not only deprive your body of important vitamins and nutrients but also cause permanent damage to your body and general health.

Varying Your Approach to Weight Loss

There are programs out there that recommend having one or more very high-calorie days a week to confuse the metabolism.  This is commonly referred to as calorie cycling.  My clients often ask me if this approach is effective.  My answer is a resounding “YES!”  Manipulating your caloric intake is a great way to gain muscle mass and lose fat.  

What is calorie cycling?  The general idea behind calorie cycling, calorie shifting, and Zig Zag dieting is that you can lose weight at a faster pace by shocking your body out of its status quo, so to speak.  You can do this without having to go through the hardships of a traditional diet plan that typically restricts your calories and carbohydrates.  

With calorie cycling, you are essentially tricking your body into thinking you aren’t dieting.  By doing so, your body doesn’t clue in that you’re eating less than what is needed, which it would generally take as a signal to go into fat storage mode thinking you want to starve it.  Instead, you are able to keep your metabolism high so your body burns more fat and calories as energy, ultimately leading to greater weight loss.  

Caloric cycling is also helpful for those individuals who have hit a weight loss plateau and have found it difficult to break through it.  Many individuals who have used such an approach have reported experiencing greater overall fat loss, and have encountered fewer weight loss plateaus.   

How does it work?

Most calorie cycling plans span a seven-day period, which includes low and high-caloric intake days.   You eat the same number of calories needed in a week to lose weight, just not the same amount each day.  Low caloric days are those days when your caloric intake will dip below what your body would normally require to maintain its current weight.  This is generally anywhere from one-half to two-thirds of your baseline caloric intake.  These days, you should eat low-calorie foods that are high in nutritional value, such as vegetables and other fiber-rich foods, and plenty of lean protein.  

On high-caloric days, you can consume larger portions.  Some plans even allow you the ability to eat your favorite foods. You can consume more calories than you would typically need on these days.  For women, you can generally consume between 1,200 and 1,800 calories, and men can eat between 1,800 and 2,400 calories.  

Calorie cycling and even the carb cycling approach can work for most people who follow such a program, though it is not because of some secret magic formula for jump-starting your metabolism.  You will still need to limit your caloric intake and incorporate exercise into the plan.   Furthermore, you will need also to adopt a new healthier lifestyle in order to experience long-term weight loss.

The good news is that if you don’t like counting calories, I have built nutrition programs that allow people to follow such a plan without having actually to count each calorie consumed.  If you are interested in learning more, send me an email.

The Four-Day Diet


Do you get bored with eating the same foods on a diet?  Do you find yourself quitting because you just can’t take the monotony anymore?  Then, you are not alone and are likely the reason Ian K. Smith, MD, a diet expert for the VHI show Celebrity Fit Club created The 4 Day Diet.  Smith believes “Losing weight is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical,” and has set up the 4 Day Diet to address both the psychological as well as the physical factors that play a role in losing weight.  

Smith is also the creator of the 50 Million Pound Challenge, a project geared toward motivating African-Americans to lose 50 million pounds.


You can lose 10 to 12 pounds over a 28-day period by completing Smith’s seven-phase approach to weight loss.


This is a low-calorie focused plan, which focuses on controlling a participant’s food environment so they avoid temptation and lose weight.  Participants are directed to eat specific foods, and perform certain exercises during each of the seven four-day phases outlined in Smith’s book, The 4 Day Diet.  

Program Overview

This diet involves seven specific phases, each lasting four days.  While phases 1 and 2 need to be done at the start of the program, the remaining phases can be completed in any order the participant wants.  Each phase focuses on eating from specific food categories, therefore, meal plans will vary.  

During Induction (Phase 1), participants work on removing accumulated toxins from the body.  Dieters eat lots of fruits, leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, brown rice, beans, and low-fat or non-fat yogurt and milk.  No fish, poultry, or meats are permitted.  

Transition (Phase 2) teaches participants how to break old habits and eat differently.  During this phase, lots of unprocessed foods that are high in fiber are eaten.  Participants eat around 1,300 calories a day, with a heavy emphasis on eating more fruits and raw vegetables.  Also allowed is 4 ounces of poultry or fish.  

During the “Protein Stretch” (Phase 3), lean meats, fish, milk, and eggs are added, which will help participants avoid hitting their weight loss plateaus.  By the “Smooth” transition period (Phase 4), Smith assumes participants have started to pick up a little bit about the importance of portion control and healthy eating, so foods such as pizza or a turkey burger are permitted.  In this phase, moderation will be the key to continued success.  

“Push” (Phase 5) leads participants back to a more restrictive diet.  There are four daily menus specifically outlined that need to be followed.  The emphasis returns to eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.  During “Pace” (Phase 6), a few more foods are again added.  With the final phase called “Vigorous”, participants are pushed to lose those last few stubborn pounds.  An example of a meal plan during this phase would look like this:

  • 3 pieces fruit
  • Half a cucumber
  • 3 cups green salad
  • 1 1/2 cups broth-based soup
  • 2 servings of cooked veggies
  • 2 snacks

The diet approach also stresses the importance of exercise, specifically in effectively combining aerobics with strength training. Participants are encouraged to progress through the exercise recommendations at their own pace.  No more than 30 minutes of exercise a day is recommended.


Plan Strengths

The 4-Day Diet stresses variety and the importance of switching things up.  It helps participants remain focused and motivated while tackling hard issues such as food triggers and cravings.  It works to address the psychological aspects of losing weight and provides several strategies such as using affirmation, thinking thin, and moving away from just using a scale to determine weight loss success. It stresses the importance of setting goals throughout the weight loss process, and overall, ranks high in terms of providing motivation.   

Smith applies an 80/20 rule that participants may find attractive.  Smith believes that as long as you stick to the program 80 percent of the time, and only stray occasionally (20% of the time) by eating the occasional “forbidden” food, participants won’t likely sabotage their long-term success on the plan.

Plan Weaknesses

This is a low-calorie plan, which could prove restrictive for some participants.  As most modules only allow between 1,000 and 1,800 calories a day, there are concerns that some participants may not receive the vital nutrients and minerals needed, as some foods are restricted on this plan.  

The diet does provide various meal plan lists of foods for each phase, but it does not break down those foods into individual meals.  Participants wanting more structure and guidance as to what foods to eat and when may find this off-putting. 

The plan focuses on a 28-day period but does not address long-term weight loss.  While Smith hopes that participants will develop healthy eating habits during that month, for some, more support and guidance may be needed during maintenance to continue losing.  


The Four Day diet provides several useful strategies for making good food choices and exercising.  It also does a great job of addressing the psychological side of weight loss, which many plans fail to do.  Participants who decide to jump between the various phases may find it confusing and may be disappointed at the lack of support provided when it comes to actually maintaining their weight loss.  However, for dieters looking for a break from the standard diet routine, i.e. eating the same foods day in and day out, this approach may warrant a closer look.

The information provided here is for educational or informational purposes only.  Dave DePew does not endorse any of the programs/services reviewed here.  

Additional Resources

The 4 Day Diet, WebMD,

4 Day Diet: Tame temptations, lose weight, 

4 Day Diet Review,

Every Other Day Diet


The Every Other Day Diet, often referred to as the QOD or EODD diet, actually refers to two diets, which are similar in their approach to weight loss.  Retired kidney specialist, Dr. John Daugirdas wrote The QOD Diet (QOD), and former overweight turned-fitness-experts Jon Benson and Janis Hauser collaborated on The Every Other Day Diet (EODD).  Though the programs vary slightly, both are based on the idea of caloric cycling to lose weight.  While Dr. Daugirdas cautions that the program is not suited for everyone, Benson and Hauser claim almost anyone can do it, and even go so far as to offer a money-back guarantee to sweeten the deal.

Other similar weight loss approaches following the same principle of caloric cycling include the Alternate Day Diet, Intermittent Fasting, Fasting Every Other Day, and the Longevity Diet. Given that both approaches are similar, they are reviewed jointly in broad terms here.  If you would like to research either plan and compare the pros and cons of each, it would be best to read their books and check out each plan’s website.  


You can lose weight at a faster pace, without having to go through the hardships of a traditional diet plan.


By using caloric cycling, participants are able to keep their metabolism high and effectively burn more calories, ultimately leading to weight loss.

Program Overview

Daugirdas and Benson support the idea of caloric cycling and put forth a cycle of eating that spans a typical seven-day period.  The idea is for participants to maintain a high metabolism so that the body burns fat for energy instead of storing it.

While the approach is similar, the difference is found in the execution.  For the QOD, Daugirdas believes participants should eat normally for one day, and then follow that with one day of very light eating.  Very light eating is defined as eating no more than 300 and 400 calories. If you are not active, no more than 300 non-protein calories are allowed, whereas if exercising, you are allowed 400.  Daugirdas provides a so-called protein allowance to control hunger and maintain muscle mass. 

The EODD from Benson also has what he refers to as burn and feed days.  On burn days, participants consume fewer calories than the body requires.  This is generally anywhere from one-half to two-thirds of your baseline caloric intake.  Participants eat low-calorie foods, like veggies and other fiber-rich foods, and eat plenty of lean proteins.  Participants on a feed day are allowed to eat their favorite foods and consume more calories than they would typically need.  Women, can consume between 1,200 and 1,800 calories, and men can eat between 1,800 and 2,400 calories.  Benson’s weekly cycle follows along the lines of 2 days feed, 2 days burn, 1-day feed, and 2 days burn.

Plan Strengths

Participants in both plans find this approach easy to follow.  Calorie counting is not necessary, and portion sizing is not an exact science.  For example, Benson’s EODD program tells participants to use their hands to measure portions, i.e. protein should equal the size of their palm and condiments the length of their thumb.  

Others are attracted to the idea that they do not have to give up the foods they like to eat.  Sure, they cannot consume mass amounts and expect to lose weight, but the idea of still being able to eat pizza, ice cream, and chocolate, but in moderation, is not just attractive but potentially psychologically appealing to many folks.

Both Benson and Daugirdas put emphasis on physical activity, especially if the goal is to lose weight.  For Daugirdas, the exercise of choice is walking and he recommends walking at least two miles every day.  For Benson, cardio is highly recommended.

Plan Weaknesses

Daugirdas cautions his approach is not for everyone and that individuals suffering from diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease should not follow this diet.  The diet is also not suitable for individuals needing to lose more than 25 pounds.  Additionally, Daugirdas is upfront is stating that the diet has not been tested extensively.

Benson’s version promises you can lose up to 21 pounds in 21 days; however, this rapid weight loss is not in line with the recommended weight loss guidelines of 1 to 2 pounds per week.  Therefore, the likelihood of gaining weight back once you get off the diet is high.  

Some participants have reported feeling tired and experiencing difficulty carrying out everyday normal activities on the low calories days.  Constipation is also a likely side effect on days when food intake is reduced, but this is easily corrected by just consuming a larger amount of dietary fiber.


The approach put forth in both the EODD and QOD is probably going to result in weight loss for the majority of people who try the program, though it is not necessarily because of some secret magic formula for jump-starting your metabolism.  Limiting caloric intake and exercising are the stars of weight loss here, and are in most any successful weight loss approach for that matter.  

For those looking for rapid weight loss, you may have little to lose in trying the program, especially given the fact that Benson offers a 60-day money-back guarantee for his EODD program.  However, long-term weight loss may likely not be sustainable, if you ever decide to go off the diet.  

The information provided here is for educational or informational purposes only.  Dave DePew does not endorse any of the programs/services reviewed here.  

Additional Resources

Every Other Day Diet (Benson) –

QOD Diet (Daugirdas) –

Eat-Clean Diet


The Eat-Clean diet is based on the personal experiences of Oxygen Magazine columnist Tosca Reno.  Once weighing in at over 200 lbs. and lacking in energy, Reno decided to chronicle her approach and journey of weight loss in her book, Eat Clean Diet.  Two years later, she followed up with her Eat Clean Diet Recharged bestseller. 

Reno believes there is a beautiful body formula.  A beautiful body is the result of good nutrition (80%), training (10%), and genes (10%).   For Reno, achieving that beautiful body means learning to control the parts of the formula we can, i.e. eating the way nature intended, and exercising regularly.   To that end, she created the Eat-Clean Diet and incorporated those essential elements.


By eating a diet rich in natural, whole foods and following a regimen of consistent exercise, you can achieve long-term sustainable weight loss.


A diet rich in lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats will assist in maintaining stable blood-sugar levels and ensuring proper nutrition, coupled with a program of daily exercise (at least 30 minutes) will help you either shed the pounds or maintain your current weight. 

Program Overview

Under the Eat-Clean Diet, which Reno and supporters argue isn’t a diet but a lifestyle, participants eat foods that are natural, unprocessed, and whole.  Emphasis is placed more on the quality of food eaten and less on counting calories.  Participants partake of six small meals a day, averaging between 300 and 400 calories each.  Each meal is composed of clean foods and contains complex carbohydrates and protein.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the foundation of this approach.  Added to that base, are complex carbohydrates such as legumes (brown rice and oats), lean proteins (chicken breast, turkey, and fish), and healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, and raw nuts).  

Foods to avoid like the plague include processed foods, refined grains, sugar, foods containing saturated and trans fats, and alcohol.  

Plan Strengths

If you are not a fan of calorie counting or dealing with pre-packaged foods, then this diet would likely appeal.  Unlike some other plans, which call for certain food groups to be eliminated, the diet encourages a balanced intake of all food groups.  The consumption of whole, unprocessed foods is definitely a healthy way to eat, and the stress placed on the importance of daily exercising is a positive approach to sustainable weight loss.  Sure, weight loss may occur more slowly, as counting calories is not big on this program’s agenda, but over the long term, the weight will likely stay off because of this more healthy approach.  

Given the variety of foods available, people suffering from specific allergies can still participate without feeling deprived.  The same applies to vegetarians as well.

Exercise is an important part of this plan’s overall approach, and participants are encouraged to increase their level of activity as much as possible.  A weight-training program for a minimum of 30 minutes on 3 days each week is also highly recommended.  

Plan Weaknesses

One of the major criticisms leveled against the Eat Clean Diet is that the approach is too stringent and requires a tremendous amount of discipline.  Very little variation or straying off the proverbial path is allowed.  In fact, participants are only allowed one “cheat meal” a week.  This dramatic overhaul of both lifestyle and diet is often too much for some individuals looking for a more gradual and friendly approach to weight loss.  

Some critics also take issue with Reno’s recommendation to remove all saturated fat intake, especially when there is some evidence to suggest that these fats do play an important role in our diets.  Her further advice to add ten rather expensive supplements, which she believes are a necessary part of the approach, has some calling foul, given no scientific support regarding their effectiveness is available and therefore does not warrant the added cost.      


High marks go to the Eat Clean Diet for the high nutritional quality of its program and its emphasis on the importance of daily exercise.  The diet’s approach is, for the most part, sound, but its rigidity and inflexibility may prove challenging for many who may lack the high level of discipline needed to undertake the program.  

The information provided here is for educational or informational purposes only.  Dave DePew does not endorse any of the programs/services reviewed here.  

Additional Resources

Eat Clean Diet Official Website,

The Eat Clean Diet, Diet Blog, Review:  Eat Clean Diet,,

Cabbage Soup Diet


Versions of this diet abound, with many claiming it was designed by a hospital (Sacred Heart, Mayo, etc.) for patients needing to lose weight quickly for surgery.  However, no hospital has ever stepped forward and “claimed” it as its own.  Over the last few years, several books have also been written offering up a variation of the plan as well such as The New Cabbage Soup Diet by Margaret Danbrot and The Ultimate Cabbage Soup Diet by Madeline Cooper.  While definitely not a long-term weight loss solution, it has remained a popular option for many who swear by the results.


You can lose up to 10 to 15 pounds in 7 days, by eating all the fat-free homemade cabbage soup you can stand, and by supplementing it with a small list of allowed foods on alternate days.


Participants are encouraged to eat as much of the homemade cabbage soup as they can stomach.  Doing so will not only stave off hunger cravings but ensure that they remain satisfied enough to stay on this low-calorie plan for the week.   

Program Overview

The Cabbage Soup Diet is a modified fast.  Participants ingest so few calories during the week that weight loss is bound to occur.   The meal plan is restrictive and you must follow the program to the letter.  There are many variations, depending on the source you consult, but here is one seven-day meal plan to give you an idea as to what to expect:  

Day 1: Homemade cabbage soup, plus any fruit, apart from bananas. 

Day 2: Homemade cabbage soup, plus other vegetables, including a baked potato with  butter for dinner (potatoes are off-limits on other days) 

Day 3: Homemade cabbage soup, plus other fruits and vegetables. 

Day 4: Homemade cabbage soup, plus anything up to six bananas and fat-free milk. 

Day 5: Homemade cabbage soup, plus 6 tomatoes and up to 450 grams of meat or fish. 

Day 6: Homemade cabbage soup, plus meat (beef) and vegetables. 

Day 7: Homemade cabbage soup, plus brown rice, pure fruit juice, and vegetables. 


Carbonated beverages, alcohol, and bread are not allowed on the plan.  

There are several variations of the homemade cabbage soup recipe as well. 

One variation is provided below:

Six large green onions

Two green peppers

1 or 2 cans of tomatoes (diced or whole)

1 bunch celery

1/2 head cabbage

1 package Onion Soup Mix

1 or 2 cubes bouillon (optional)

1 48 oz. can V8

Juice (optional)

Season to taste (salt, pepper, parsley, curry, garlic powder, etc).

Plan Strengths

Rapid weight loss is likely to occur given the limited number of calories ingested.  However, keep in mind that the weight lost may be nothing more than water and not fat.  

The program may also prove effective in terms of changing poor eating habits and can provide a great jumping-off point for a more moderate long-term diet approach.  Some studies also suggest that vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower have proven effective in preventing some types of cancer.

Plan Weaknesses

The biggest drawback of the Cabbage Soup Diet is that it is not a suitable long-term solution to weight loss.  It simply lacks the necessary good nutrition needed.  Most experts agree that ANY diet approach that allows for no more than 1,200 calories a day is going to be unsafe unless under a doctor’s care.  Given that you are probably only getting between 800 and 1,050 calories a day on the Cabbage Soup Diet, your body is definitely going to suffer from a lack of the needed nutrients.

Secondly, the diet is nothing more than a meal approach.  It provides no recommendations about exercise, how to affect long-term behavioral changes, or even how to change poor eating habits.

Participants would definitely have to have tremendous willpower to eat the same thing day in and day out, and given that many report the soup to be a bit bland, this may prove challenging!  

Some participants have also reported experiencing light-headedness, fatigue, weakness, and difficulty concentrating.  Gastrointestinal problems including gas were also experienced.  


Sure, you may very well rapidly lose that promised 10 to 15 pounds of weight, but unless you follow up with a more sensible program of nutrition and physical activity, expect the weight to creep back on once you return if you intend to return to your previous lifestyle.

The information provided here is for educational or informational purposes only.  Dave DePew does not endorse any of the programs/services reviewed here.  

Additional Resources

The Cabbage Soup Diet, WebMD

Cabbage Soup Diet, Wikipedia 

Truth About Cabbage Soup Diet

Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle


Seven-time Mr. Natural Bodybuilding champion, certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), and personal trainer, Tom Venuto created the Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle (BFFM) program about six years ago.  Since then, it has become one of the bestselling downloadable health books on the internet.  

The program is not specifically a weight loss tool, so the casual dieter who just wants to lose a few pounds may find the commitment needed to learn the program a bit more than what they want to invest.  However, those looking for a comprehensive program that extensively covers nutrition, exercise, goal setting, and more will not be disappointed.


You can burn the fat and lose weight while gaining lean muscle mass.


In general, the BFFM program could best be described as a moderate carbohydrate, moderate protein, low-fat diet that places heavy emphasis on exercise in order to build muscle.  With that said, it is important to note that there is no strict formula, and participants are encouraged to find what works best for them.

Program Overview

Tom Venuto believes no single food plan works for every person, and that people need to find what will work best for them.  His program supports the belief that there are three distinct body types (mesomorphs, ectomorphs, and endomorphs) and they all burn calories and store fat differently.  This means that to achieve permanent weight loss, you will need to eat the right foods for your specific body type in order to burn fat.  Participants learn how to evaluate their body type, and create a nutritional plan that effectively burns and re-energizes their metabolism.

The 300+ page downloadable book is a comprehensive guide that covers everything from fat loss and nutrition to the types of exercise needed for each body type.  At the core of the program is the belief that you need to build and maintain lean muscle in order to lose weight.  Therefore, feed your body what it wants, the way it wants, and it will reward you with a fired-up metabolism that will help your body melt away the fat.

Plan Strengths

The BFFM is comprehensive in scope.  It is not a diet.  You aren’t encouraged to cut out all fats from your diet, or only eat proteins.  Instead, it teaches participants how to determine their own ideal intake of protein, carbs, and fats.  

The downloadable book covers every aspect of exercise and nutrition participants need.  It offers chapters on weight training and cardio exercise, as well as detailed nutritional meal plans geared to specific body types.  

The program also does not make any false promises regarding massive weight loss or startling results.  It’s a straightforward, easy-to-understand approach that lets you know there is no quick weight loss fix.  Venuto doesn’t push any magic pills, supplements, or “hidden agenda”, which is refreshing.

The unconditional eight-week money-back guarantee is also attractive for those hesitant to spend the money to try a new program.

Plan Weaknesses

The BFFM program is not one that you can start immediately.   It will take time to read, assimilate and implement all the information learned.  

This program is best suited for the highly motivated.  While there are a few forums that offer some support, participants are basically on their own.  If you lack motivation and the ability to “police” yourself, then you may not find much success with this program.

Another drawback for novice exercisers is that there are no illustrations and/or pictures.  Therefore, unless you have a personal trainer or friend who can explain the various exercise positions you do not know, this can prove to be an obstacle.

Finally, the cost may be an issue for some participants.  The instantly downloadable book costs about $40, but on the flip side, it comes with a satisfaction guarantee that may make that initial cash outlay more palpable.


The BFFM is not for the casual dieter looking to lose a few pounds.  It is not a program you can learn quickly, and it does require a high level of self-motivation. However, it is very comprehensive, thorough, and straightforward in its approach.  Participants interested in changing their diet and committing to a consistent cardio and weight training exercise regime will not be disappointed with the results.  Even if for some reason you are, then simply request a full refund within eight weeks.

The information provided here is for educational or informational purposes only.  Dave DePew does not endorse any of the programs/services reviewed here. Before starting a new exercise regime or weight loss plan, talk with your doctor.

Additional Resources

Burn the Fat,

Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle – Complete Review, Fitness Tips for Life, 

Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Loss Solution


Self-improvement guru and psychologist, Dr. Phil McGraw spent eight years counseling people who were up to 300 pounds overweight.  Those experiences created the foundation for his best-selling book The Ultimate Weight Solution:  The 7 Keys to Weight Loss Freedom.  In the book, he outlines his “seven keys to weight loss freedom.”


You can achieve long-term weight loss by addressing the potentially toxic and negative behaviors that originally contributed to past weight gain.  This can be accomplished by following Dr. Phil’s “seven keys to weight loss freedom,” which also incorporates a  low-calorie diet plan and intense exercise.


Weight gain is largely the result of negative and toxic psychological and behavioral factors.  McGraw believes individuals have the ability to change those behaviors, and provides a program that combines positive thought and a strong circle of support, with well-balanced and healthy eating, and regular exercise.  Once someone is able to change the behaviors and actions that led them down the weight gain road, McGraw says weight loss is sure to follow.

Program Overview

McGraw’s approach is not a diet plan per se, but more of a long-term approach that advocates several key components. 

Those include:

1.    Right Thinking – learning how to eliminate self-defeating thoughts, patterns, and behaviors, and then embracing the idea that success is possible.

2.    Healing Feeling – advocates the idea to stop self-medicating with food, if dealing with emotional issues or stress.  Learn how to make choices that will allow you to stop the cycle of emotional eating.

3.    No-Fail Environment – create an environment around you that does not encourage binge eating, or makes it easy for you to grab food at every turn.

4.    Mastery Over Food and Impulse Eating –Simply put, do not allow food to master you.  You need to master food.

5.    High-Response Cost, High Yield Foods – McGraw promotes eating foods that are high in fiber, nutritious, and filling.  

6.    Intentional Exercise – McGraw points out that exercise is a way for people to gain control over their bodies.  He points out that people who have learned to manage their weight effectively and stay fit exercise as a matter of habit.

7.    Circle of Support – weight loss is not a DIY deal.  To be successful, you need to build nurturing relationship will people who share your views, and reaffirm your goals of changing your life for the better.


As mentioned, an actual diet plan is not the focus of Dr. Phil’s approach.  It is but one small component.  However, this is not to suggest it is not an important one.  Dr. Phil advocates eating what he refers to as High-Response Cost, High Yield Foods.  These are foods, which require a great deal of preparation, cannot be eaten quickly, and are not convenient.  High-yield foods include colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, eggs, fish, lean meats, legumes, tofu, non-fat milk products, soy products, soups, herbal teas, and water.

Dr. Phil finds the occasional meal replacement beverage or bar as a “grab and go” food to be acceptable.  He says they can keep busy, tired, or overcommitted people from straying from the plan.  He, however, stresses these products should not be relied on heavily, as they cannot substitute a balanced meal.

Plan Strengths

The Dr. Phil approach, in general, advocates building a foundation of good eating habits.  Many nutritionist support Dr. Phil’s approach to eating and point out that it is in line with national guidelines.  It supports a low-calorie diet and offers up several good exercise tips.

The approach also gets kudos for using a cognitive behavioral approach to weight loss.  It addresses the psychological and behavioral aspects of weight gain and provides a game plan for modifying those behaviors so that participants can move toward life-long weight loss.

Plan Weaknesses

The approach is neither new nor groundbreaking.  Most people who are serious about losing weight will be familiar with the concepts presented.  Another criticism, which is leveled at the meal plans, is that they tend to be high in cholesterol and lacking in some important vitamins and minerals.  Using meal replacement shakes and bars further compounds the problem and is therefore discouraged by some nutritionists.  Overall, the meal approach advocated by Dr. Phil is generally a low-calorie-eating plan.  However, when combined with intense exercise could potentially lead to certain problems such as fatigue and weakness.

The book claims to base its findings on “quality research found in the psychological and medical literature … from the most current research.”  However, the American Dietetic Association, takes issue with this, asserting that more than half of the book’s references (34 out of 66 books and articles) were five years old or more and that sources such as, Psychology Today, and Associated Press Wire Service Report did not qualify as peer-reviewed journals and reliable current references.  


Very few people would argue with Dr. Phil’s premise that behavior modification and cognitive restructuring combined with a sound healthy diet and exercise program would not lead to long-term, healthy weight management. This is pretty much a no-brainer.  While his approach to weight loss includes eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet, getting plenty of regular exercises, and modifying destructive behaviors, it is really nothing new having been advocated by weight loss specialists for years.  

For some people, affecting long-term behavior change may prove difficult without the guidance and expertise of qualified professionals.  Sure, a supportive circle of friends can make a huge difference when working toward achieving your weight loss goals, but unless some of those friends have “technical expertise” in terms of getting to the root of specific behavioral or cognitive issues such as emotional eating or binging, you may not be able to successfully overcome those issues.   

With that said, Dr. Phil should at least receive kudos for providing a realistic approach to weight loss.  An approach that hammers home the reality that weight loss is not an overnight thing.  It takes time, effort, and diligence on the part of anyone wanting to effect life-long change.  An approach we can all support.

The information provided here is for educational or informational purposes only.  Dave DePew does not endorse any of the programs/services reviewed here. Before starting a new exercise regime or weight loss plan, talk with your doctor.

Additional Resources

Dr. Phil’s  Ultimate Weight Loss Solution,

Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution by Katherine Lee, Every Day Health

Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution, Reviewed by Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, LMHC

American Dietetic Association,