The Hallelujah Diet
What the Experts Say
Nutrition experts applaud a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole
grains. But beyond that, some say, the premise of The Hallelujah Diet
lacks any scientific proof and the diet is not in accord with what we know is
necessary for human health.
While Yale researcher David Katz, MD, says most Americans would benefit by
eating a more plant-based diet, he questions the validity of recommending a raw
and animal-free diet.
"There is a misperception that raw food is more nutritious than cooked,
but it really depends on the food, because cooking food can enhance the
digestibility," he says. "And in some cases like tomatoes, cooking
makes the disease-fighting antioxidant lycopene more bioavailable to the
"We are omnivores, and derive specific benefit from animal foods such as
fish," he says. "And when you eliminate all animal products, you miss
out on valuable nutrients only found in animal products, like omega-3 fatty
The American Heart Association recommends two servings a week of fatty fish,
which contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Experts also question the extremely low calorie level, and inadequate levels
of protein and other nutrients in The Hallelujah Diet.
"Any motivation that helps people eat healthier and lose weight is fine,
but this plan has glaring nutritional deficiencies that must be addressed in
order for it to be a suitable diet for anyone," says Gerbstadt.
She says the plan is potentially harmful, especially for the many overweight Americans who have
diabetes, prediabetes, or metabolic syndrome.
"Meals lacking enough protein -- whether from vegetable or animal
sources -- are not as satisfying to hunger and mental and physical performance,
and promote faster muscle breakdown, which is completely against the goal of
long-term weight loss," she says.
Nutrition experts also note that any diet plan that calls for users to
purchase its own supplements should send up a red flag for consumers. The
cleansing of toxins from the body does not require supplements or dietary
measures, as this task is handled naturally by the liver and kidneys in healthy
people, they say.
"The body is an amazing machine designed to handle waste products and
usual toxins," says Gerbstadt.
Stephen Barrett, MD, founder of Quackwatch, also questions the safety of
The Hallelujah Diet.
"Extremely restrictive diets like The Hallelujah Diet are not
safe for children, pregnant or lactating women, or any adult because it is
nutritionally unbalanced, misleading, untrustworthy, and has not been
scientifically validated," he says
His advice: If you want a healthy vegetarian diet, you can do it without
spending thousands of dollars on supplements -- and you should seek the
expertise of a registered dietitian, not a spiritual leader.
Food for Thought
While a higher-fiber, lower-calorie, plant-based diet is advisable, The
Hallelujah Diet is not recommended. If you're looking for a healthy weight
loss plan, seek a balanced approach that is based on science.
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD and the WebMD
Weight Loss Clinic. Her
opinions and conclusions are her own.