New Diet Gimmick-Sleep, Eat Protein, No Exercise Needed

Health Writer

It's no secret that most people want a quick weight loss fix.   Even if it took you days, weeks, months, years, to gain weight, you want it off quickly.   That's why you buy so many diet books, and it's why you will probably buy the latest diet one, The Overnight Diet by Dr. Caroline Apovian.   The physician author, who specializes in obesity, says (in interviews) that she applied the program to herself when she gained weight in college.   I typically don't "review" a book before I read it cover to cover - but this one is going to garner huge interest, and I have examined the diet plan and seen enough interviews with the author to warrant my comments.

The Author

Dr. Apovian is a leading researcher, treatment provider and teacher in the field of obesity and weight loss.   Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center, Boston University Medical Center., she is also Co-Director of the Nutrition and Metabolic Support Services, Boston University Medical Center, Director of Clinical Research at the Obesity Research Center, Boston University Medical Center, Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.   She is also a nutrition consultant to NASA.

The Premise

Lean muscle mass helps to speed up one's metabolic rate.   The more lean muscle you make or preserve, the faster your metabolic rate.   How does the doctor suggest you build your muscle mass? Support lean muscle and increase muscle mass by consuming protein-rich shakes on day one of each week (1-Day Power Up jump), while the other six days you limit grain carbohydrates and eat a diet rich in proteins (she recommends a large steak), fruits and vegetables, including limited portions of foods like potatoes and fats_. _ Get eight hours of sleep - crucial to the diet - and the doctor promises much of the weight loss will occur at night.   Dr.   Apovian promises you will lose "up to 2 pounds" that first night, and up to 9 pounds the first week of the diet. The protein/fiber-rich shakes in particular, and the high protein eating plan is supposed to limit insulin release and allow the body, during sleep, to target and release fat from "fat deposit locations" like the stomach and hip areas.

The Patients

According to the doctor, some 50% of her patients have lost 10% of their body fat and kept it off for one year, with the average weight loss of 25 lbs.   Many of the patients confessed to having sleep problems, and the doctor suggests that too little sleep can create stress, instigate release of the hunger hormone ghrelin, and prod patients to eat more than they should.

Book Endorsements

Positive reviews have come through from Dr. Louis Aronne, M.D., Dr. George Blackburn M.D., Ph.D. and Theodore Kyle, all well regarded obesity experts.

So what do I think?

I'm a bit surprised by the positive reviews from the physicians.   A study just released suggests a link between red meat and heart disease - yet a big steak looms large in the diet recommendations.   Do I think that initial rapid weight loss is one way to get people excited and committed to the weight loss journey? Yes, but with a caveat.   Initial weight loss tends to be water loss, not true fat loss.   Furthermore, the problem we face with current obesity rates doesn't appear to be difficulty losing weight - most people can lose weight.   The issue seems to be keeping the weight off.   I'm not sure this book has the statistics to support promises of long term weight loss.   I'm not keen on the plan's claims that you can do the diet and achieve muscle mass without exercise.   If the author is "making it easier" by suggesting that exercise is not a necessary or key component, then I strongly object.   There are a variety of reasons why we need daily physical activity, specifically calorie-burning aerobic exercise and weight training, and it has nothing to do with energy balance per say.   Exercise reduces risk of many diseases, and yes, for most people who struggle with weight, it will also help to offset extra calories.   Weight training is a critical tool necessary to build and maintain muscle mass (and bone mass for that matter), so again, I find it astounding that the diet promotes the notion of creating adequate muscle mass without including resistance training.   I might also add that a recent study clearly shows the link between exercise and better quality and patterns of sleep   Finally, though I personally have dramatically cut my own grain carbohydrate intake, most people I know simply cannot sustain this type of commitment.   Completely cutting out grain carbs leads to binging and weight gain for many dieters, as soon as they abandon the carb free demand of high protein diets.

Bottom line: This is another high protein diet that includes the importance of getting a good dose of sleep.   I think the weight loss claims are a overstated and the "no exercise" clause and recommendations of red meat in "big portions" (eat a 14 ounce steak) are absolutely appalling.   I do think we all need to get a good night's sleep!

Amy Hendel is a health professional, journalist and host of Food Rescue, Simple Smoothies and What's for Lunch?   Author of Fat Families, Thin Families and** The 4 Habits of Healthy Families**, she tweets health headlines daily @HealthGal1103.   Catch her guest appearances on Marie! on Hallmark and other local and national news and talk shows.