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You: On a Diet

Book Review

You: On a Diet
By Michael F. Roizen, MD, and Mehmet C. Oz, MD
Free Press (2006)
Reviewed by Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson


Roizen and Oz, co-authors of the bestseller You: The Owner's Manual, claim knowledge is the best weapon against fat - particularly abdominal fat. By understanding how the body works in terms of fat burning and fat storage, readers will shave inches off their waistlines and learn how to "diet smart and not hard." They also claim the two-week rebooting program as outlined in the book will help readers lose up to two inches within two weeks.

Diet Plan

The authors provide a 14-day rebooting program or "waist management eating plan" that provides approximately 1,700 calories per day. They encourage three meals a day plus two to three snacks and dessert every other day. The food plan emphasizes healthful foods including whole grains, nuts, lean meats and fish and encourages readers to eliminate foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup and other simple sugars (they do allow use of some table sugar, maple sugar and honey in recipes), saturated fats such as butter and tropical oils, trans fats and enriched and other flours that are not 100 percent whole grain or whole wheat.

For beverages, the plan allows for water, seltzer, skim milk, tea and up to two diet sodas a day. Up to eight ounces of fruit or vegetable juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D and up to one alcoholic beverage a day are also allowed. The authors also recommend not eating within three hours of bedtime and no later than 8:30 p.m.

The authors devote an entire chapter to physical activity and recommend 30 minutes of walking as well as stretching each day. They also outline, with illustrations, an easy-to-follow 20-minute strength training routine that readers are encouraged to follow three days a week. The book provides useful chapters on how emotions, hormones and other variables relate to eating behaviors.

Nutrition Pros and Cons

The authors successfully simplify much of the science about how the body works as well as health perils of having too much body fat (especially in the abdominal region). In addition to outlining a sensible dietary pattern, they also acknowledge the importance of exercise in achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. While the book is brimming with useful information, it de-emphasizes calorie counting. Paying attention to approximately how many calories one consumes can be a useful strategy for those trying to lose weight and keep it off, especially at the beginning of any attempt to modify food intake. It can also be useful for those who experience a plateau or regain weight after weight loss. While the menu plans and recipes in this book seem sound and doable, they include few low-fat dairy foods and other non-dairy sources of calcium, which can make it tough for many to meet their calcium and vitamin D needs without supplementation.

Furthermore, because the menu plans do not include many of the foods people in America commonly consume, such as refined foods including pizza and pasta and snack/dessert type foods (many of which are admittedly low in nutrients and high in calories), following the plan as outlined in the book may make people feel they are in fact on a "diet" and they have to eat very differently than they normally do to lose weight. This can make following the program a challenge over the long term.

Bottom Line

The tone of the book is warm, witty and encouraging, which makes it an easy read. You: On a Diet encourages a healthful, albeit idealistic way of eating that can promote both weight loss and improved overall health. The book can serve as a useful resource and motivator, especially for those who are tired of extreme dieting in pursuit of a slimmer, more fit physique.

While most of the information provided is not new or revolutionary, the book is written in a way that motivates, inspires and entertains. Readers will likely learn not only how to lose weight, but how to improve their overall health in the process.

February 2007