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The Cinch Diet

The Promise

Can you eat chocolate, not count calories, and still drop a dress size in a month? Yes, if you're on the Cinch Diet.

On this 30-day plan, you get four meals a day, plus a small piece of dark chocolate. It's based on Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches by registered dietitian Cynthia Sass.

The three simple rules:

  1. Eat like clockwork, starting within 1 hour of getting up and spacing meals 3-5 hours apart. Doing so helps control your blood sugar and hunger hormones, and revs up your metabolism.
  2. Mix and match produce, whole grains, lean protein, plant-based fats, and seasonings. They make you feel full and help you lose weight.
  3. Focus on flavor with seasonings that don't add calories or sodium.

The diet starts with the optional “Fast Forward" phase, which lasts 5 days. During that time, you can eat only limited amounts of spinach, raspberries, almonds, nonfat plain yogurt, and eggs (or vegan alternatives).

After that, every meal has a certain amount of fruits or vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, plant-based fat, and seasonings like garlic, vinegar, lemon zest, cinnamon, and chili peppers.

Cinch also teaches you to recognize and overcome emotional eating.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

You get produce, whole grains, lean protein, one cup of coffee, and did we mention chocolate?

  • Fruits and vegetables: There are dozens of acceptable fruits and vegetables to choose from.
  • Seafood and poultry: You can eat boneless and skinless chicken and turkey, shrimp, scallops, salmon, and more.
  • Dairy products: Reduced-fat and nonfat cheese, yogurt, and milk are included.
  • Meat: Beef and pork aren't allowed, because this is a Mediterranean-style diet.
  • Whole grains: You'll eat whole wheat bread and pasta, barley, brown rice, quinoa, and oats.
  • Plant-based fats:  Options include nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil.
  • Chocolate: The plan calls for you to eat a little bit of dark chocolate that has 70% cocoa every day. Exactly how much? 50-100 calories. For comparison, three Hershey's Kisses have about 60 calories. As for the cocoa content, many chocolates put that percentage on their label.

You won't eat red meat, pork, alcohol, or sodas until you reach your goal weight. Sass recommends eating five vegetarian meals per week.

Level of Effort: Medium

Limitations: Some foods are off-limits, including red meat, alcohol, and sodas (even diet sodas).

Cooking and shopping: You can get everything at your regular grocery store. Cinch has 100 meals to choose from. There are suggestions for acceptable chain-restaurant meals, and tips to help you stay on track while away from home. But you'll mainly need to prepare the book's recipes.

Packaged foods or meals: No.

In-person meetings: No.

Exercise: The plan recommends getting at least 30 minutes of activity 5 days a week, except during the first 5 days. Walking is fine.

WebMD Medical Reference

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