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The Promise

Like many other diet plans, you go through different phases on the P.I.N.K. method. In the first phase, which lasts 3 to 14 days, you’ll be eating very few calories: about 1,000 a day, according the sample menus.

In the second phase, protein, vegetables, and fruit are on the menu, and you’ll start the plan’s DVD workouts, led by buff, pink-clad trainers.

Once you're near your goal weight, it’s time for the “7-Day Shred” phase, which curbs carbs and fats in favor of a vegetable soup to help you drop those last few pounds.

When you reach your goal weight, you’ll start the maintenance phase, which calls for eating 1,400 to 1,800 calories per day.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

Fresh vegetables and fruits; “light” proteins such as turkey, chicken, lentils, black beans, and salmon; and high-fiber carbs form the core of the menus; though in Phase 1, your carbs are mostly limited to vegetables.

You can have one to two servings of alcohol a week after the first 9 weeks. Processed foods and refined sugars are not on the menu, so forget cookies and packaged meals.

You can have moderate amounts of caffeine.

Level of Effort: High

You’ll exercise hard on this plan, and the first phase calls for eating very few calories per day.

Limitations: If you’re used to eating a lot of frozen foods, packaged foods, or fast food, you may find this diet very challenging.

Cooking and shopping: Plan to buy a lot of vegetables and fruits, and to cook most lunches and dinners from scratch. The menus call for some special ingredients, such as whey protein, that you may not have on hand.

Packaged foods or meals: No.

In-person meetings: No.

Exercise: Required. Intense exercise is a key component of this plan. The kit comes with three exercise DVDs featuring strength, cardio, and flexibility workouts of increasing difficulty. They may not be suitable for beginners.

Does It Allow for Restrictions or Preferences?

Vegetarians and vegans: Many of the recipes are meat-free. You may alter the menus, or ignore them and use the food lists provided to put together your own meals. Dairy is not a big part of the diet.

Gluten-free: People following gluten-free diets should be able to make substitutions to the menu. The plan’s smoothies call for whey protein; check the product you buy to make sure it’s gluten-free (some are, some aren’t). Also check all of your food labels to make sure there’s no gluten in the ingredients.

What Else You Should Know

Cost: The kit -- three DVDs and the Nutrition Guide & Workbook -- will set you back $59.85 if you buy it through the plan’s web site, and more if you buy it elsewhere. The diet recommends organic foods, which typically cost more than conventional foods.

Support: This is a diet you do on your own. But when you buy the kit, you gain access to an online community, food and activity tracking tools, and trainer support.

What Dr. Michael Smith Says:

Does It Work?

There isn’t any research specifically on the P.I.N.K. diet, but the low-calorie diet mixed with vigorous exercise will certainly drop the pounds. Overall, the diet includes foods that are not only low in calories but also rich in nutrients, and it limits bad stuff that puts on the pounds. The key is whether you can stick with the very low calories initially and the intense exercise that comes later in the program.

Is It Good for Certain Conditions?

Losing weight helps control diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even heart disease. So the P.I.N.K. diet could improve all these conditions. Weight loss may even lessen your need for medicine. But the intensity of the program may not make it ideal for people living with certain health problems.

This is an intense program, so check with your doctor first to make sure it’s right for you. This is especially important for people with diabetes, because the extreme changes in your diet and exercise could cause dangerously low blood sugar. Your doctor may need to adjust your medicines.

Anyone with heart disease may have a tough time with the level of exercise in this program.

The Final Word

The strength of the P.I.N.K. program lies in the healthy diet and exercise. The focus on vegetables as a go-to carb source is one of its strongest features.

The very low calories at the beginning are a bit concerning, because it can be tough to get all the nutrients you need in less than 1,200 calories a day. It’s unlikely to have a negative impact on your health since that phase lasts no more than a couple of weeks. But you’ll have to dig deep to get through it.

If you don’t exercise regularly, you may have to take it slow at first and work your way up toward the higher levels of exercise. If you have any health issues, get your doctor’s OK before jumping in.

This program is ideal for people looking to lose weight more quickly, but the intensity of the P.I.N.K Method will make it hard to stick with for some. If you’re looking to more slowly ease your way into a healthy lifestyle, this approach may not work well for you. You’ll also need to be committed to eating a very healthy diet and preparing meals rich in fruits and vegetables at home. You won’t be able to meet the requirements of the program if you eat out much or like to splurge.

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