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The Promise

Tough TV trainer Jillian Michaels delivers a strict prescription for weight loss in Master Your Metabolism.

The Biggest Loserwellness coach believes that you’ll lose weight and lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer with this plan. You’ll need to replace processed and nonorganic foods with healthy foods, and rebalance your hormones through diet, sleep, and exercise.

What You Can Eat

The goal is to swap what she calls “anti-nutrients” (added fats, sugars, and chemical additives) with organic and natural foods, in three phases.

  1. During the first phase, you’ll ditch foods containing hydrogenated fats; refined grains; high-fructose corn syrup; glutamates; and artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and colors from your diet. The plan also suggests cutting back on starchy veggies like potatoes, tropical dried and canned fruits, soy, alcohol, full-fat dairy, fatty meats, canned foods, and caffeine during this phase.
  2. In the second phase, you’re introduced to Michaels’s 10 “power nutrient” food groups: legumes or peas and beans, alliums like onions and leeks, berries, meat and eggs, colorful fruits and vegetables, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, organic low-fat dairy, and whole grains.
  3. The final phase perfects timing, quantities, and combinations of foods to shift your metabolism into burning the most fat. This balance involves eating every 4 hours, never skipping breakfast, eating just until you’re full, and not eating after 9 p.m. You’ll also include a fat, carb, and protein in every meal and snack.

To get your meal planning ideas going, Michaels provides a few sample plans and a ton of recipes in The Master Your Metabolism Cookbook.

Level of Effort: High

If you’re used to eating packaged meals, or you rely on convenience foods when you cook, you're in for a big change on this plan. It's focused on eating all natural, unprocessed foods. Working out 5 hours a week is also a big commitment.

Limitations: Trans fats, hydrogenated fats, refined grains, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, artificial preservatives and colors, glutamates (like MSG), and other chemical additives are all banned on the program. You’ll have to research and read labels to check for them.

Cooking and shopping: Your meat, dairy, and eggs should be organic, in Michaels's view. She encourages organic fruits and veggies but says nonorganic produce is OK.

Packaged foods or meals: None required.

In-person meetings: No.

Exercise: Michaels is, first and foremost, a fitness trainer, so there is a significant exercise component. She recommends 4 to 5 hours a week of intense fitness work, including both cardio and strength training.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

Low-fat diet: Trans fats and hydrogenated fats are banned from this diet. Healthy fats including avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish are encouraged.

Gluten-free: If you have a gluten sensitivity, you may do well on this diet, as prepackaged foods -- which are often chock-full of gluten -- are discouraged. You should be able to opt for gluten-free whole grains.

What Else You Should Know

Costs: None beyond your grocery shopping. Organic foods often cost more than nonorganic versions. On Michaels's web site, you can sign up to get personalized help losing weight for $4 per week.

Support: You can do this plan on your own. Michaels's web site has sample meal plans, motivational apps, and exercise videos.

What Dr. Michael Smith Says:

Does It Work?

Jillian Michaels’s program is very healthy and one that will get the job done. The core components are based on the healthiest ways to drop the pounds and get fit.

Some of the strongest parts of her program include limiting sweets and starchy foods, focusing on vegetables, nuts, and seeds, and fitting regular exercise into your lifestyle.

Michaels’s approach to fitness may have you running scared, but it will help get you in the best shape of your life. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth the effort.

This is a solid approach that will work if you’re willing to make the change and put in the work.

Is It Good for Certain Conditions?

Michaels’s well-balanced diet and fitness program is an excellent option if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. It may even be appropriate for you if you have heart disease.

But if you have a health condition, you should check with your doctor before jumping in to her exercise routine, especially if you’re not active now.

If you have diabetes, make sure you understand how exercise can affect your blood sugar and when to take action.

If your doctor gives you the OK, Michaels's plan is a surefire way to improve your health. This plan may even help you decrease your need for medicines. Just don’t stop or cut back on any medicine without talking to your doctor first.

The Final Word

In a world of wild diet and fitness programs, Master Your Metabolism is a plan based on what is known to work. The diet is chock full of nutrients your body needs and limits those that sabotage your efforts. Her exercise program will help drop the pounds and get you in great shape.

If you’re up for the challenge, Michaels’s program will deliver the results you’ve been looking for.

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