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Book Reviews

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The Game On! Diet

Book Review

The Game On! Diet
By Krista Vernoff and Az Ferguson
HarperCollins (2009)
Reviewed by Joy Dubost, PhD, RD

Claims

The Game On! Diet is not a diet. It's a bold new approach to fitness that turns the latest, smartest, most successful health science into a fun, fierce and exhilarating game. It is the ideal program for busy people who should be working out. The authors show you how to organize opposing teams, set goals and compete to earn points for daily exercise, healthy meal plans and positive lifestyle changes. With The Game On! Diet, the process of losing weight, for the first time ever, is actually fun.

Synopsis of the Diet Plan

This book encourages health and wellness with "an attitude." It challenges you to accomplish your individual goals, whether they are losing weight or toning up, by engaging in fun competition with your friends. The object of the game is to form teams and score as many points as possible with your fellow team members for four consecutive weeks. At the end of the game, the team with the most points wins a designated prize. A diet plan, recipes and workout schedule are included.

As a result of the game, the authors claim you will lose at minimum one percent of your body weight per week.

Nutritional Pros and Cons

The authors' diet plan recommends consuming five small meals a day, spaced between two to four hours. Each meal should include a combination of lean protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, such as whole grains and fruits and vegetables. You can eat as many green vegetables with each meal as you want. The meals must not contain any of the "F.L.A.B.B." (fat-loading and belly-bloating) foods including all fried foods, high-fat/processed meats, anything made with refined sugar and white flour, butter, margarine, whole-fat cheese, cream, dried fruit and fruit juice. Each day, in addition to the five meals, you may consume up to 100 calories of whatever you want. Between meals you may snack on cucumbers and celery. You are allowed to indulge from the F.L.A.B.B. food list on your day off (one day/week), your meal off (one meal/week) and your 100 calories a day. The portion sizes recommended for the five meals are quite small, which then leads to the reduction in calories and thus the weight loss.

The authors do a good job of making the diet plan as simplistic as possible; however, a few recommendations are not supported by evidence-based science, including buying and consuming organic produce and biological effects of sugar (caloric) and artificial (non-caloric) sweeteners. For example, the authors equate consuming artificial sweeteners to drinking chlorinated water from a pool. There are also some contradictions. For instance, the authors state consuming soda (diet or regular) leaves you malnourished and craving carbohydrates, yet they "allow" it on your meal and day off. If this truly is the case, which it is not, why are the authors allowing this at all? They also advise eliminating caffeine by not consuming regular/diet soda, but they "allow" tea and coffee, which can be higher in caffeine. Also, the plan encourages eating raw fruits and vegetables, including unlimited celery and cucumbers, which may cause gas and bloating for many.

It may be difficult for some to follow the point system of the game, as well as consume five meals per day and thus lose one percent of body weight per week as the authors claim.

Bottom Line

The Game On! Diet advises a group approach to getting healthy by encouraging friendly competition among family and friends. Based on science, we know weight loss is most effective when there is group support.

I believe this book can encourage and motivate the reader to become healthier. However, one approach I would recommend while following The Game On! Diet is to consult a registered dietitian. Whether you would work with an RD as an individual or team, your results would improve.