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The Promise

Your brain already holds the tools you need to lose weight and keep it off. At least, that's the theory behind the Instinct Diet. You learn how your brain responds to eating and how various foods affect the brain. Then you use the information to shed pounds.

The Instinct Diet comes from creator Susan Roberts, PhD, a nutrition professor at Tufts University. She says you don't have to count calories, but you do have to base your eating around protein, certain carbohydrates, and fiber.

On average, people will lose an average of 30 pounds over about 6 months on the Instinct Diet, Roberts says.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

The diet is divided into stages.

In the first stage, which lasts 2 weeks, you won't be able to eat refined carbohydrates like white bread or drink alcohol.

In the later stages, you can add "free choices" like steak fries (only six at a time) or one glass of alcohol a day.

Level of Effort: Medium

The diet is flexible and gives you lots of food choices.

Limitations: Once you finish the first stage, you'll be able to choose from a wide variety of foods, including treats such as chocolate.

Cooking and shopping: You can use the diet's shopping list at any grocery store. The book includes recipes and ideas for meals you can serve up from prepared food from the supermarket.

Packaged foods or meals: No.

In-person meetings: Not required, though the diet has in-person classes in the Boston area as well as online classes. You can also subscribe to a newsletter about the diet.

Exercise: Roberts says you can lose weight without exercising but recommends you do it anyway for your health.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

Vegetarians, vegans, and people on low-fat or low-salt diets should have no trouble following the Instinct Diet.

What Else You Should Know

Cost: Just your regular food shopping. Your first shopping trip will be the most expensive, because you'll probably buy a lot of new items. If you take a group class, those cost between $275 and $299.

Support: You can do this diet alone, or you can take a class or find support online with other dieters.

WebMD Medical Reference

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