The Cookie Diet: Illustrating Why Low-Calorie Fad Diets are Bound for Failure

The Cookie DietCopyright 2010

Simply hearing the phrase “cookie diet” probably reminds you of a bit of wisdom that your parents once told you: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You might think that a diet plan designed to encourage weight loss couldn’t possibly be based on the consumption of cookies.

Yet the cookie diet, in all its incarnations, recommends exactly that kind of eating pattern: dieters are allowed to eat six cookies throughout the day when hunger pangs strike, followed by a small dinner of lean protein and vegetables. As you might suspect, the cookies are specially formulated to function as meal replacements, providing a balanced mixture of protein, carbohydrates, and fat, as opposed to the typical sugar-laden treats that we loved to see in the oven as children.

The cookie diet, however, suffers from several fundamental flaws that greatly impact its effectiveness, and these flaws are common to many short-term fad diets.

There are several variations of the cookie diet, but they all follow the same general pattern.

The cookies along with the small dinner combine to provide the dieter with about 800 calories per day. If we consider that calories are simply a measurement of the amount of energy contained in the food we eat, it’s obvious that 800 calories is not enough energy to sustain an adult human with no adverse effects.

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that females from the age of 19-30 require 2000 calories per day, even with a sedentary lifestyle. The cookie diet’s daily allowance of 800 calories is clearly far below this number. People who undertake this diet will likely lose weight because of the extreme caloric restriction; it’s a simple fact that taking in so little energy from day to day will cause one to lose weight.

However, diets that function on extreme caloric deficiencies are counter-intuitive because they send the body into “starvation mode”.

The body’s metabolism is tricked into thinking that there isn’t enough food available so it becomes more likely to store food as fat in preparation of going hungry in the future. This is the exact opposite of the cookie diet’s goal of weight loss and actually promotes weight gain, especially once the diet is stopped and the dieter returns to his or her old eating habits. At this point, the body hoards its new-found surplus of energy by storing it as fat.

So if the cookie diet’s mechanism of weight loss is extreme caloric reduction, how do people manage to stay on it without breaking the diet or feeling like they’re constantly starving? It turns out that the cookie diet’s original creator, Sanford Siegel, perfected his cookie formula to include specific amino acids that curb appetite. Those who subscribe to the cookie diet are actually starving themselves, but they don’t realize it because of the appetite-suppressing ingredients in their cookies. Any diet that requires the user to trick his or her body’s natural mode of operation, should be approached carefully.

Even with the cookie diet’s appetite suppression working in its favor, it’s not a sustainable diet plan. If the dieter sticks with the diet perfectly for three months and loses a considerable amount of weight, he or she will likely decide to give up the diet since the original weight loss goals have been met.

However, as soon as the dieter returns to his or her previous eating habits, the weight will likely pile back on. This flaw is common to most fad diets, especially those that rely on the frequent consumption of a particular food. They’re unsustainable because either the dieter gets tired of eating the same thing over and over, or the weight loss goals are reached and the diet is abandoned.

To keep off the weight, the dieter would have to continue the diet indefinitely – a virtual impossibility, especially with the cookie diet. No one is denying that cookies are tasty, but would you want to eat them every day for the rest of your life?

The cookie diet displays many characteristics of a typical fad diet. It:

    1. relies on extreme restriction of calories
    2. requires the dieter to eat a specific “miracle food” every day
    3. makes a claim that seems too good to be true

Keep these traits of the cookie diet in mind when researching the next big diet plan and you’ll find it much easier to weed out the good from the bad.

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