The OMG Diet: Are You Kidding Me?

Four reasons it’s wrong, and three things it gets right

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Just last week I wrote about the hCG Diet, one of many fad diets that I wish would disappear. Now, to add to the ever-growing list of controversial diets, is Six Weeks To OMG: Get Skinnier Than All Your Friends. When the book, by the same name, came out right before summer, my immediate response was: "Oh my god—are you kidding me?" We can assume, of course, that the British author Venice Fulton (a pseudonym for Paul Kannah) meant to imply: "Oh my god—how well this works!"

Let me explain why I am opposed to this diet. 

1. It recommends limiting fruit intake. This concept brought me back to the original days of Atkins, which I thought we had moved away from. Research has shown that fruit may help prevent certain cancers, lower heart disease, and strengthen the immune system. As a registered dietitian who has worked with hundreds of people who are trying to lose weight, I assure you that eating fruit has always been a successful part of their weight loss regime. Sure, if you eat too much fruit, you can take in too many calories, but the recommended two to four daily servings are not going to have that effect. 

2. It suggests that carbs are carbs. Fulton argues that our bodies don't know the difference between chocolate cake and an apple. Hmmm ... interesting, but once again I must beg to differ. He seems to be looking strictly at calories, as if we are comparing a very small piece of chocolate cake to a very large apple. I prefer to look at the health benefits of foods and how they digest differently in our bodies. For example, a high-fiber bowl of cereal (more than 5 grams per serving) will definitely keep you fuller longer than a bowl of high-sugar cereal (more than 12 grams per serving), because fiber takes longer to digest. Unlike added sugar, more fiber can help stabilize blood sugars and keep you fuller longer. That helps to prevent overeating, which results in fewer calories consumed. 

3. It encourages exercise first thing in the morning, after drinking black coffee, and on an empty stomach. OK, I know that Fulton is a fitness trainer by trade, and I assume he has worked out with many people, but for the hundreds I have helped lose weight, I encourage them to exercise whenever it fits into their schedule. Some people are just not morning people. If early evening works best, so be it. I am thrilled they make the time for it. Also, not eating before a workout is one thing, but Fulton wants you to avoid food for three hours afterwards as well. Some of my patients who work out very early in the morning refuse to eat anything beforehand since it doesn't agree with them. But to wait for three hours after exercising? In general, the longer my patients wait to eat in the morning, the hungrier they get, and the more they consume. Furthermore, science suggests eating within one hour after exercising for optimal recovery. 

4. It calls for an ice bath every morning. Honestly, I had to do a double take on reading this. Fulton suggests this tactic to rev up your metabolism. Yes, our bodies use energy to cool down, but not enough to make any difference with weight loss. Maybe it's because I live in the northeast part of the country, but there is no way I am taking a cold bath on a snowy December morning. 

However, I am comfortable with these aspects of his book: 

• The idea that coffee is full of antioxidants. Research suggests it could possibly protect against Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver cancer. Drinking it black, in my opinion, does decrease the chance of adding too much fat and sugar, a.k.a. calories, as many people tend to do. 

• Many of the foods he recommends: green leafy vegetables, limited fruit, chicken, nuts, lean beef, fish, beans, lentils, brown rice, and other fresh vegetables. 

• The importance of exercising, but not over-exercising. We might disagree on the morning thing, but at least he encourages a regular workout. 

As I see it, Fulton's book is just another gimmicky diet that is getting its day in the spotlight. Does anyone really need to be skinnier than all of his or her friends in six weeks? Absolutely not. Instead, I hope that everyone is happy and healthy and surrounded by close friends for years to come. 

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback. 

Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian, media personality, spokesperson, and author of The Small Change Diet. Gans's expert nutrition advice has been featured in Glamour, Fitness, Health, Self and Shape, and on national television and radio, including The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, Primetime, and Sirius/XM Dr. Radio.