5 Bite Diets and Part Time Diets

This is definitely another rant post.

Last night I was reading Oxygen magazine's April 2014 issue, and I came across this article* titled, "Part-Time Diet, Full-Time Fat Loss." I was left scratching my head as I read the side column written by Jessie R. Shafer, RD, LDN. Shafer wrote the informational article, detailing the ins and outs of the every other day diet (EOD) and intermittent fasting (IF). Intermittent fasting, as explained by Shafer "involves periods (hours of days) during which food is partially or completely reduced coupled with periods of feasting." What Shafer did was begin her venture into EOD with a 500 calorie day. Her explanation of that day is less than appealing. She describes "fighting off" the hunger cues, being "too nervous" to use all her calories quickly, feeling "pretty proud" of having a whole "250 calories yet to spare" for the evening, and being "hangry (a term coined by dieters referring to short temperament brought on by lack of food)." She says, "I felt anxious, even a little panicky as I ran around the kitchen trying to figure out the best way to spend my final calories."

Can I just say... WHAT?!

The following day she returned to normal eating, followed by another day of 500 calories. After six days of the EOD, she reports a 3 pound weight loss, with only a "few short bouts of 'hanger.'" Her conclusion is that she found the fast-feast days to be easier than it sounds. (REALLY, because your report makes it sound like nothing short of torture!)

*Updated-- Link doesn't contain full article, which I read in the print version of the magazine. Please read author's comments below. In the article she isn't advocating IF, she's just documenting her experience.

"The Extreme New Way to Lose 15 Pounds in One Week" (on the Dr. Oz Show)

One of the perks of being a teacher = Spring break = bad daytime t.v. shows. Apparently, Dr. Oz is a favorite of my mostly stay-at-home-husband. He's fascinated with all things nutrition and exercise-- the latest research, the latest fads, etc. Anyway, the above link is what we watched today.

The opening guest, Dr. Alwin Lewis explained his "5 Bite Diet." Breakfast is coffee and a multivitamin. Why break the fast? he says. Lunch is 5 bites of any food you want-- the food on the sample plate? A burger, well, 5 bites of one. Dinner is 5 bites of any food you want-- demo food? 3 bites of Mac n' cheese and 2 bites of apple pie. I AM NOT KIDDING. This man is a doctor and apparently running a fairly successful practice. (I was going to post a link to his website, but I just can't bear to give him any more free advertising.) Dr. Oz (thank goodness!) voiced his concerns that people would be missing key nutrients that could cause long term damage. Lewis didn't seem very worried; he says over time they get all the nutrients they need. On his website he answers the statement, "But I don't want to be skinny, I want to be healthy" by saying that people who are overweight have more health problems, so by being skinny, you are being healthy.


(Right now I'm practicing some deep breathing to calm myself down. Brace yourself for a rant.)

People! THIS is not right. THIS is not how you should live! 5 bites is a meal?! 500 calories is a day's worth of food?Are you kidding, me?! THAT is healthy?! NO!

I've said it before and I will say it a bazillion times...


THAT is the secret to a successful diet.


THAT is the secret to a healthy, happy life.


  1. Hi, I saw the Dr. Oz piece a few days ago and it intrigued me. I have struggled with weight all my life I am huge stress eater...4 years ago I lose 60lbs with exercise and moderate healthy eating. After 4 years, unemployment, depression, my mother's illness and now her caretaker...I have climbed to 219. I have tried to eat healthier , I have had success, but the stress of the household is hard to deal with. So I loosely tried the 5 bites diet. Vegan smoothie & almond milk, green tea, vitamin and water, Lunch tofu burger, water, Dinner 5 small pieces of roasted chicken placed on top of sautéed spinach. Started Saturday at 219.4 today 213.4. I'm sticking to it for about 60 days with exercise T25. We will see what happens...

  2. I'm sorry about your struggles and in no way want to minimize what you are going through. However, I cannot in any way condone or support starving yourself to lose weight.

    I would urge you NOT to do the 5 bite diet. Regardless of what this "doctor" says, this is classic anorexia. Severely restricting food intake is not safe or healthy. ESPECIALLY if you are exercising. (Yes, you will lose weight, but this is not sustainable for life.)

    I would love to talk to you about more healthy options. Please feel free to contact me through Facebook or email-- a_c_lawson@yahoo.com

  3. I appreciate a nutrition rant just as much as anyone, but as the author of the Oxygen magazine article that you reference above, I'm afraid you didn't include the full takeaway. I was contracted by Oxygen to write an article about Intermittent Fasting because it is a topic that their readers were asking about. After interviewing several experts, including the scientist who has conducted most of the research on IF, and doing a mini trial of IF myself so I could write about it from experience, my conclusions were that IF is not a recommended weight loss approach for active women. In fact, I bet that you and I have a very similar philosophy of whole foods for athletes, but I was sad to see that you took several editorial liberties to portray my article in the wrong light or to suggest that I was recommending IF (though some research has shown that it can be a useful weight loss approach for overweight people). Please understand that writers are contracted to write about many topics, and I believe the full message (if you were to read the full article) has valuable insight for active women who were wondering about IF - and steers Oxygen readers (especially those who are working out daily) away from IF.

    1. Thank you, Jessie, for adding some extra insight and giving us the full takeaway. (I read your entire article in print.) My intention in this post was to point out some of the crazy extremes that we women are willing to put ourselves through in order to achieve a goal weight, pants size, or a look and to encourage my readers to eat sensibly and avoid obsessing about food/calories/numbers on the scale.

      Thank you for being honest and real in sharing your experience in the article because it does provide helpful insight on what IF is.

  4. Amen Amy! We women need to stick together and support each other in this cause (and many causes, for that matter). Good for you for encouraging the positive food/positive body message!

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