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The Promise

Butter-drenched lobster? Fresh-baked rolls? You can eat both and still slim down -- provided you don’t eat them together, claims The New Beverly Hills Diet.

An updated version of the 1981 best-seller, the book is written by Judy Mazel, who ran a weight-loss clinic in Beverly Hills and died in 2007. Mazel had no training in science or nutrition but centered her practice and book on concepts she used to lose 72 pounds.

By retraining your digestive system with a fruit-based diet for 35 days, then adhering to strict rules about how you combine carbohydrates, fat, and protein, Mazel says you’ll shed 10 to 15 pounds in 5 weeks and continue to lose weight until you become “skinny.”

What You Can Eat

Plan on eating little more than fruit for the first 35 days. For example, on Day 2 you’ll eat prunes, strawberries, and baked potatoes; on Day 17, only watermelon; and on Day 22, grapes or cherries, and a bedtime treat of your choosing. There are a few “all protein” days, and a few days when you can eat whatever you like.

After the 35-day induction phase is over, Mazel tells readers to eat within the confines of four “conscious combining” principles:

  1. Fruit must be eaten alone at all times. Ideally, you should begin each day with an “enzymatic fruit” such as prune, apricot, pineapple, or persimmon. Wait an hour before eating different kinds of fruit.
  2. Protein can be combined with fat, but not carbohydrates. Once you’ve eaten protein, 80 percent of what you eat the rest of the day should also be protein.
  3. Carbohydrates can be combined with fat, but not protein.
  4. Most alcoholic beverages like beer and spirits are considered carbohydrates; red and white wine should be treated as fruit. Champagne is “neutral” and can be eaten with any type of food.

There are no portion suggestions: Eat as much as you want, provided you follow the rules above.

Artificial sweeteners, additives, non-dairy creamer, margarine and other artificial butter products cause digestive problems, Mazel says, and should be avoided.

Level of Effort: High

Adhering to a mostly fruit diet -- even with the occasional steak and sweet treat thrown in for variety -- for 5 weeks is a tall order, even for the most disciplined dieter.

If you can get to the second phase of the diet, you may find the unlimited portions and unlimited food choices liberating. But continually choosing meals and snacks that don’t combine carbohydrates and protein may prove challenging.

Limitations: If you don’t like fruit, or if you have a health problem, such as diabetes, that affects your ability to consume fructose in high quantities, this diet isn’t for you.

Cooking and shopping: Because the first phase revolves around fresh and dried fruit, shopping for and preparing food on this diet should be easy. In the second phase, your ability to combine only certain foods -- for example, meatballs and spaghetti cannot be eaten together -- could pose meal planning problems.

Packaged foods or meals: None required.

In-person meetings: No.

Exercise: At least two exercise classes a week; the main thing is to find an activity you love and do it often.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

Vegetarian or vegan: Mazel tells vegetarians and vegans to eat the same forms of protein they would normally eat, such as tofu, being careful not to combine them with carbohydrates.

Low-fat diet: The only types of fat this diet asks you to avoid are artificially created varieties, like margarine. If you wanted to cut the fat further, you could.

Gluten-free: With no restrictions on types of carbohydrates, this diet is compatible with gluten-free eating.

What Else You Should Know

Cost: None beyond your shopping.

Support: You do this diet on your own.

What Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, Says:

Does It Work?

You will lose weight on this plan, but only because it’s so low in calories. There’s no evidence to back up the concept of food combining or a fruit-based diet.

There's a huge lack of nutrition in this diet, especially in the first phase, so it may be tough to stay on it.

Is It Good for Certain Conditions?

There are no health conditions that this plan would help. If you are going to try it, talk to your doctor first.

The Final Word

This plan offers a lot of questionable advice about exercise, calories, digestion, and the value of food combining. And there’s no useful information that will help you lose weight and keep it off.

If you’re looking for a long-term diet plan, you should find another plan.

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