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Dr. Nowzaradan 1200 Calorie Diet Plan: The secret to ‘My 600-lb Life’

Maggie Hudspeth, RDN

Dr. Nowzaradan – that is a mouth full. Unlike his diet plan.

If you’ve ever watched TLC’s hit show My 600lb Life, you might be familiar with Dr. Nowzaradan’s 1200 calorie diet plan for his patients. It seems as though this plan has more items on the “do not eat” list, than the allowed category.

When patients seek out help from the world renowned bariatric surgeon, they are in a critical state for weight loss surgery. Turning to bariatric surgery for weight loss is a lifetime commitment. Most think the surgery fixes all weight issues, when in reality, it’s a never ending process. Not only do you need to lose a substantial amount of weight pre-surgery, but post-op has many stages including a liquid diet, a rigorous supplement regimen, and portion restrictions. Weight loss surgery is not as simple as reducing the size of the stomach. The patient still has to establish new eating behaviors and learn new habits, for their new stomach and digestive system. Eating just a tad over budget can lead to dangerous consequences. Education still plays a vital role in this weight loss method.

Before any bariatric surgery, every patient is given a goal for weight loss. Losing weight before the operation not only proves the level of commitment from the patient, but decreases the chance of surgical complications. It also begins the healthy lifestyle journey for the person and shows them how to begin establishing new eating patterns. During this pre-op stage, the amount of weight each patient has to lose varies depending on current weight, gender, age, activity levels, etc. No two people will have the same goal for dropping the pounds.

Dr. Nowzaradan 1200 Calorie Diet Plan: The Breakdown

Dr. Now’s technique for cutting down on weight is by following a strict 1,200 calorie (maximum) diet plan. Some of the more severe, morbid obese patients go as low as 1,000 calorie for their limit. Not only are patients drastically dropping in the amount of calories they consume each day, but the foods they are consuming are not a part of their current diet plan, no surprise. This strict nutrition plan is a low-fat, low-carb, high protein combination. Most of the diet regimen seems promising; consuming lots of plant based proteins, keeping up with hydration, monitoring behaviors associated with eating patterns. The down-fall is the daunting list of ‘no-go’ foods.

The list of foods that are off limits while shedding pounds consist of:

  • Sugar
  • Desserts: cakes, candies, ice cream, cookies
  • Sweetened fruit or frozen yogurt
  • Chocolate
  • Potatoes of any sort – mashed, french fries, chips
  • Crackers
  • Minimal breads including anything whole wheat
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Fruit juices
  • Noodles and rice
  • White and brown rice
  • Soda, sports drinks, energy drinks

This is just to give you a general idea of all the off-limit items. Yes, most of these foods have very minimal nutritional value. But things like whole wheat bread and 100% fruit juices can provide much of the daily intake of vitamins, minerals and fiber! Carbs are our friends, not the enemy.

Looking back at this list, it’s seems to be a fair mix of what is considered ‘junk food’ and nutrient dense foods. Think about being put in the shoes of these weight loss surgery seekers. Their current state of weight did not happen overnight. This is years and years of detrimental relationships with food. The foods on this list, plus much more, is what brought them to this point. Yet, handing them this index of off-limit items is supposed to go over without a breeze. If you’ve ever watched the show, even if you have not, you can guess how patients would react to this list.

Not to mention, let’s have patients go from eating thousands and thousands of calories on a daily basis to 1,200. *Insert wide-eye emoji* No wonder dieters throw in the towel, not only in this setting but with any fad diet, after a short amount of time. Drastically changing eating habits over night does not happen. Handing someone a list of foods you can and cannot eat does not set them up for success. It only makes you feel deprived and hungry. Looking at that list, what would you learn about your eating patterns? Not much, since there is no accountability or guidance while undergoing these habit changes.

How Does Noom Compare to Dr. Nowzaradan’s 1200 Calorie Diet Plan?

 

When it comes to weight loss, no matter if you’re looking to lose 100+ lbs. or shed 5, it’s not about what you can and cannot eat but how you can eat your favorite foods. Which is what Noom is all about. It’s about learning how to recognize and control behaviors and emotions associated with food. Trying to establish the ‘why’ behind your eating patterns allows you to create a more positive relationship with food.

Friendly Calorie Budget

When it comes to giving a limit on daily consumption, the Noom app calculates a calorie budget based on age, gender, current weight, goal weight, weight loss speed, and activity level, to name a few variables. The calorie budget adjusts itself within the app based on calories consumed and activity input. The minimum calorie budget for men is 1,400 calories and 1,200 calories for women. Now, you might be thinking that’s the same limit as Dr. Now’s diet plan, and you’re right. The difference in our “plan” and Dr. Now’s plan is that we don’t have a plan!

No Food is Off Limits!

At Noom, there is no intimidating directory of off-limit foods. There are no restrictions or depriving yourself. There is only living life and finding ways to incorporate all foods into your daily routine while losing weight. If everyone lived by a list of approved and disapproved foods, we’d all be living in a stressful, frustrated, starving world. I don’t know about you, but I am hangry, my productivity levels are shot.

Let’s back up for a second; I’m not saying your favorite desserts and salty snacks are a free-for-all. What I am saying is, you don’t have to completely cut them out of your life. Not even for a timeframe of “dieting”. At Noom, you learn how to enjoy these items in a more mindful way. You adopt new habits that allow you to really dive into connecting behaviors and emotions with these foods. You learn how to make healthy swaps, channel emotions into things other than food and find ways to enjoy your favorite products even more than before.

Reliable Support

Not only are you learning how to create an enjoyable eating environment for yourself, you’re not doing it alone. Having a coach guide you through this journey is the missing ingredient when it comes to many diet plans, such as Dr. Now’s (unless you count a camera crew as your accountability partner). The coaches at Noom range from diverse backgrounds of nutrition, psychology and exercise science. All of this expertise is rallying around you to create a healthy and happy life, while dropping the weight.

Weight loss is never easy. Which is why having a support system is crucial. Not only are you provided the guidance from a personal coach, but you have a second coach in a group setting. This group allows the opportunity for peer support. What better way to keep up with motivation and focus than by engaging with others going through the same journey as you? Between altering eating habits, finding a new love for fitness and keeping up with your everyday life, this group of Noomers will become a second family for you. You will celebrate each other’s successes, pick each other up when you fall and encourage each other on the worth of this new journey.

Structured Guidance

Now, besides all the awesome support in the group comes the actual content. Like I said, instead of being provided a list of what you can and cannot eat, Noom helps you find ways to adjust your eating habits. So all food is fair game. This is done so by creating weekly goals with your coach. These can be goals that you create, or that have to do with the week’s curriculum theme. The daily content in the app is there to not only educate you on topics like nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and hydration, but also to help keep you focused.

Some weeks are harder than others. Life gets in the way and we understand that. That is why we provide daily interaction within the app to help you keep up with your drive you displayed on day one. Remember the hype and excitement you had of “this time I am really going to do it” mentality at the beginning? Your coaches, group and curriculum are there to remind you to hold onto that perseverance throughout your entirety of your healthy lifestyle.

Let’s Sum It Up

When it’s all said and done, anyone can follow a list of foods. It may not be fun or easy, but anyone can do it. It takes real dedication and commitment to want to change your eating habits for life. No one can force you to add more vegetables, cut down the serving size of chips or make you go to gym. What people can do is help you identify how you can change your habits to do these things and encourage you on why it’s beneficial to do so. Maybe a list of prohibited foods works well for you. But I think for most it’s just one more thing to keep track of in our chaotic lives. So, burn that list, put down the diet book and dump that tea cleanse down the sink. It’s time to find the enjoyment in food again!

Author: Maggie Hudspeth, RDN