I saw the author of Choose to Lose on a rerun of Dr. Oz yesterday. Then I checked the book’s sales rank at Amazon.com (22nd overall—a blockbuster in my view). (Don’t get me wrong; I’m not in the habit of watching Dr. Oz.) Here’s my review of 2012’s Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution, by Chris Powell. I give it three stars per Amazon.com’s five-star system.
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Will it work? Certainly for some, quite possibly a majority. Like most published programs, it’ll work for for you if you work the program. Question is, can you do it?
The underlying idea is to alternate high-carb and low-carb eating days, which supposedly revs up your metabolism and tricks your body into thinking it’s not on a diet so it won’t go into self-preservation starvation mode. Mr. Powell calls this carb cycling.
The high-carb days are also low-fat, and the low-carb days are low-calorie. Actually, both days are reduced-calorie if your goal is the most dramatic results. A moderate calorie deficit is built into the program. Women get about 1350 calories; men around 1700. Those levels are lower than necessary. Other than that, it appears you’ll get all the other nutrients you need, which is good.
I can see how the diet would work for some because it drastically reduces consumption of our most fattening carboydrates. Loser Choosers aren’t supposed to eat baked goods, white flour, refined sugar, beer, candy, chips (crisps, for those in the UK), conventional breads, cookies, crackers, ice cream, sugar-sweetened beverages, corn syrup, and milk. I suspect if we all stopped eating those right now, the overweight rate in the U.S. would drop by at least 10% in the next 12 months.
The author allows no wheat or white rice except for whole wheat bread and pasta. Potatoes, peas, and corn made it to the “approved” list. You eat mostly natural, minimally processed foods (yay!).
I don’t know Mr. Powell, but he comes off as earnest, honest, compassionate, experienced, and intelligent. He’s not a scammer. Mr. Powell has more faith than I do in the benefits of exercise for weight loss. He notes that nutrition is more important. We agree that exercise is often critical for prevention of weight regain. He barely, if at all, mentions the benefits of exercise in prevention of disease and prolongation of longevity. His well-illustrated exercise recommendations are a good start for fitness beginners. He wants you to exercise for 10-30 minutes on six days a week, doing a combo of cardio intervals and body weight resistance training. No expensive equipment to buy.
Carb cycling like this is supposed to “boost your metabolism to burn fat quickly.” It does not, to any clinically meaningful extent. Nor is carb cycling mentioned in this year’s massively referenced The Smart Science of Slim. Contrary to the author’s opinion, neither eating five meals a day nor eating carboydrates revs up your metabolism.
Mr. Powell provides some helpful mind tricks to prepare you for a lifestyle change.
My favorite sentence: “Success doesn’t just happen. It’s a result of the 4 Ps of action: Planning, Preparation, Performance, Persevance.”
My least favorite sentence: “Water is imperative for loosing [sic] weight.” A close second was: “Alcohol is a powerful diuretic (it flushes water out of your system), so it dehydrates you, causing water retention and bloating for one to three days after you drink.” Huh?
I like his incorporation of cheat meals, although he allows more than I would. To his credit, the all-important maintenance phase is covered well.
Mr. Powell recommends supplementing with probiotics and digestive enzymes, being unaware of their uselessness for most dieters.
I note that Amazon sells Choose to Lose by Dr. Ron and Nancy Goor, and The Carb Cycling Diet by Dr. Roman Malkov. Coincidence ?
In terms of complexity, the program is about average.
I wonder if you’d do just as well by swearing off the fattening carbohydrates I listed above. If you’re looking to lose weight, you could do a lot worse than Choose to Lose. And you could do better.