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The Promise

Eat smart, and you could lose 10-30 pounds -- or more.

Pretty simple? That's the idea behind Eat This, Not That! by David Zinczenko (formerly editor of Men's Health) and chef Matt Goulding. Throughout the book, they focus on taking in fewer calories than your body burns every day. You do that by swapping higher-calorie foods with items that are lower in fat and calories.

What You Can Eat

Pretty much anything, including bread, fancy coffee, dessert, and steak. There's a lot of information on eating out and avoiding calorie overload at restaurants.

Some of the program’s top restaurant swaps:

  • Burger: Steak 'n Shake double steakburger with cheese (440 calories) instead of Five Guys Little Cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onions, and mayo (673 calories)
  • Salad: Chili’s Santa Fe Chicken Salad (670 calories) instead of Chevy’s Fresh Mex grilled chicken fajita salad (1220 calories)
  • Pizza: Domino’s Artisan - Italian Sausage & Pepper Trio (320 calories) instead of Pizza Hut Italian Sausage & Red Onion pan pizza (540 calories)

Level of Effort: Medium

There aren’t any special rules to remember, but you do need to look up the foods you eat and see what the better choice is. It's easy to look up swaps at your favorite restaurant. It’s even simpler to shop for foods in the grocery store with the extensive lists of approved foods.

Level of limitations: None.

Cooking and shopping: You cook and shop as you normally do.

Packaged foods or meals: No.

In-person meetings: No.

Exercise: None recommended. But the authors say you'll need to be active enough to burn the calories you take in each day.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

Vegetarian or vegan: While there are no specific guidelines for vegetarians or vegans, the program can serve as a resource for making swaps that work with your eating style.

Low-fat diet: Every swap outlined in the book includes calories, fat, sugar, and sodium.

Gluten-free: No. Many of the swaps are for restaurants, where it can be hard to find gluten-free foods.

What Else You Should Know

Cost: No additional costs.

Support: This is a diet you do on your own. You can register on the web site to access weight loss tools and more.

What Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, Says:

Does It Work?

Eat This, Not That is not exactly a diet, but a calorie-counter's guide that could help you lose weight by making healthier choices. Don’t assume that everything on the "eat this" side of the book is healthy and recommended for weight loss.

Take this glossy guide along to the supermarket and restaurants to help you make smarter choices.

There is no research supporting this weight loss approach, and there are questionable recommendations in the book, like many nutritious foods on the "not that" side of the page.

Is it Good for Certain Conditions?

If you are trying to lower the sodium, fat, or calories in your diet, this guide can help you navigate restaurant menus and supermarket offerings. But it's not a nutritionally balanced diet plan. Don’t assume that everything on the "eat this" side of the book is healthy and recommended for weight loss.

If you have a medical condition, ask your doctor for guidelines on your diet.

The Final Word

The analysis of restaurant menu items and grocery foods is eye-opening. Avoiding the 20 worst foods loaded with fat, calories, and sodium and including the 8 super foods is good advice for everyone.

If you often eat fast food food or prepared foods, this guide is packed with useful information that can help you make smarter choices.

This is a useful guide for people who don’t want to diet but are trying to make better choices. You won't necessarily lose weight unless you control your total calories for the day and you exercise.

People who need more structure and weight loss guidance should find another diet plan.

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