Hilton Head metabolism diet


The Hilton Head metabolism diet was created by Peter M. Miller, PhD, who believes that a dieter's metabolism can be increased by eating five small meals a day and getting the correct amount and type exercise. This increase in metabolism helps the dieter lose weight.


Miller's writings on a variety of subjects have been published in many scholarly journals. In addition to publishing studies looking at saturated fat intake, binge eating, and weight loss intervention programs, he studies alcoholism and other addiction behaviors. He is the editor of the journals Addictive Behaviors and Eating Behaviors and is on the editorial board of many other journals. He is board certified in clinical psychology.

In 1979, Miller founded what is now known as the Hilton Head Health Institute on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. The institute is a weight loss and lifestyle modification retreat and spa where dieters can go to lose weight and learn new health and wellness skills. The Hilton Head metabolism diet was created by Miller using information and insights that he has gained through helping dieters at the institute. Miller was the executive director of the institute until 2000.

The Hilton Head metabolism diet first appeared in a book of the same in 1983. The book was extremely popular, and since then Miller has published additional books targeted at specific groups, including The Hilton Head Over-35 Diet and The Hilton Head Diet for Children and Teenagers. In 1996 he published an updated version of his original book, called The New Hilton Head Metabolism Diet.


The Hilton Head metabolism diet seeks to increase a dieter's base metabolic rate. By doing this its intent is to not only help the dieter lose weight but to make weight maintenance easier for the dieter in the future. Miller says that 70% of the calories that a person burns each day are burned through metabolic processes, and only the other 30% are burned through exercise and activity. Metabolic activity is all of the processes that are required to support life, such as the processes necessary for temperature regulation, digestion, making new cells, breaking down products for use by the body, and creating proteins and other necessary substances. All of these processes require energy that is acquired each day from food. If not enough food is eaten to supply the body's energy needs, the body looks for energy elsewhere, such as in the form of stored fat.

Miller believes that because such a large percentage of caloric expenditure comes from metabolic activity, weight loss can be achieved more effectively through increased metabolism than through increased exercise alone. This diet is intended to help dieters raise their metabolic rates and lead to increased calorie usage, which in turn can lead to weight loss through the burning of fat stores as energy.

An important aspect of this diet is that Miller provides psychological and emotional help to dieters who may have been struggling for many years with their weight and feel uncomfortable or ashamed about their weight or appearance. He tells dieters that it is not their fault that they are overweight, and that they should not allow others to put them down. He says that although overweight people do not usually have metabolisms that are abnormal, they do often have metabolisms that are slow compared to the metabolisms of thinner people. This is why it is so important for overweight people to change their metabolism if they are going to lose weight, and keep it off.

The diet plan consists of a six-week weight loss phase followed by a two-week weight maintenance phase. This eight-week plan can be repeated as many times as necessary until the desired weight loss has been achieved. Miller suggests that at first dieters aim to lose 10% of their body weight, especially very overweight dieters, because it is through this first amount of weight loss that the greatest health benefits are often seen.

Miller provides meal plans and recipes to go along with this diet. During the weight loss phase the dieter is limited to what amounts to about 1,000 calories per day. On the weekends, however, the dieter is allowed an increased caloric consumption, usually about 200 to 250 more calories each day than during the week. During the weight maintenance phase the dieter is allowed a number of calories based on various personal needs.

The diet provides meal plans that are generally low in fat, usually fewer than 15 to 20 grams per day, and include many different fruits and vegetables. The diet also includes carbohydrates and lean meats. Miller recommends at least five 8-oz. (227 g) glasses of water or other liquids daily while on the diet. Although the dieter has many drink choices, no caffeinated beverages are allowed, and low- or no-calorie drinks are recommended.


The Hilton Head metabolism diet is intended to help dieters lose weight by increasing their base metabolic rate. The six weeks of weight loss followed by two weeks of weight maintenance can be repeated as many times as necessary for the desired amount of weight loss to be achieved.

It is intended to also be a lifestyle changing plan that provides recommendations for exercise and information to help dieters who might be feeling upset about their weight. A long-lasting purpose of this diet is that the increase in the dieter's metabolism make weight control easier in the future.


There are many benefits to weight loss and increased fitness. There are many diseases and conditions for which obesity is considered a risk factor, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Generally, the more overweight a person is, the higher his or her risk of developing these and other diseases and the more severe the symptoms will be. Weight loss, if achieved at a moderate pace through a healthy diet and regular exercise, can reduce these risks. Regular exercise, even just in the form of walking, can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases.

An additional benefit of the Hilton Head metabolism diet is that it may be easier for dieters to stick to than some other diets. The diet provides meal plans that allow the dieter to choose among various recipes. There are many opportunities for the dieter to choose foods, such as vegetables, each day, as long as the dieter follows the guidelines of the meal plan. This opportunity to choose the foods that are eaten during the day may help dieters feel that they are in control of their diet, and means that dieters can eat foods that they enjoy and are not required to eat too much of any one type of food. The addition of more calories and food choices to the diet on the weekends not only can provide extra calories needed for any extra activity done on the weekends but can make the diet easier to follow by providing treats to look forward to each week. The maintenance phase also allows dieters to eat increased calories, and this can help dieters stick to the weight loss phase by giving them something to look toward to.

Diabetes mellitus—
A condition in which the body either does not make or cannot respond to the hormone insulin. As a result, the body cannot use glucose (sugar). There are two types, type 1 or juvenile onset and type 2 or adult onset.
Dietary supplement—
A product, such as a vitamin, mineral, herb, amino acid, or enzyme, that is intended to be consumed in addition to an individual's diet with the expectation that it will improve health.
An inorganic substance found in the earth that is necessary in small quantities for the body to maintain health. Examples: zinc, copper, iron.
A nutrient that the body needs in small amounts to remain healthy but that the body cannot manufacture for itself and must acquire through diet.


Anyone beginning a new diet should consult a physician or an other medical professional. Daily requirements of calories, vitamins, minerals and other substances can vary from person to person, depending on age, weight, gender, activity level, and the presence of certain diseases and conditions. A physician can help the dieter determine his or her specific requirements. Diets that prescribe a certain amount and type of food to be eaten each day may not fit all dieters well. Working with a doctor can help a dieter ensure that he or she will stay healthy while working to achieve weight loss goals.


There are some risks associated with any diet. When a dieter follows a diet that limits the types and amounts of foods that can be eaten each day, it can be difficult for the dieter to get all the vitamins and minerals required for good health. Pregnant or breastfeeding women need to be especially cautious because deficiencies of vitamins or minerals can have negative effects on a baby. Dieters may want to consult a doctor or other medical professional about whether a multivitamin or supplement would be appropriate to help reduce the risk of deficiency while on this diet. Multivitamins and supplements have their own associated risks that should be carefully considered.


Research and general acceptance

There may be some evidence that the Hilton Head metabolism diet promotes long-term weight loss. A study that was done by the University of South Carolina showed that almost 70% of people who had lost weight while at the Hilton Head Health Institute had kept the weight off when they were contacted later. Although the people studied did not follow the Hilton Head metabolism diet as laid out in Miller's book and had attended the institute as residents, the ideas underlying the two programs are similar.

The role of metabolism in weight regulation is controversial in some ways and agreed upon in others. The higher a person's base metabolism, the more calories that person will burn during the day. A person with a higher base metabolic rate is able to take in more calories throughout the day without gaining weight than someone with a lower base metabolic rate. However, the link between metabolism and obesity is not yet completely understood. Some studies show that a lower metabolism is correlated with obesity, but, as with many issues that are complex, not all studies show exactly the same thing, and it can often be unclear which problem is the underlying cause of the issue and which is a symptom or outcome.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture makes recommendations in its MyPlate food guide. These recommendations specify how many servings from each food group are needed daily for good health. Any diet that generally follows these guidelines and provides a safe minimum number of calories each day is generally considered appropriate for healthy weight loss. There is some debate about how many calories each day are a minimum requirement for good health. Because the requirement depends so heavily on age, weight, sex, and activity level, it is generally not possible to make a broad recommendation for every dieter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise each day for good health. Walking is considered an excellent form of this type of exercise. Following the Hilton Head metabolism diet plan and walking for 20 minutes two times a day would exceed these minimum recommendations. Many studies have shown that exercise and diet are more effective at helping dieters achieve weight loss when done in combination than when either is done alone.

See also Metabolism .



Larsen, Laura, ed. Diet and Nutrition Sourcebook. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 2011.

Miller, Peter M. The Hilton Head Diet for Children and Teenagers. New York: Warner Books, 1993.

Miller, Peter M. The Hilton Head Metabolism Diet: Revised for the 1990's and Beyond. New York: Warner Books, 1996.

Miller, Peter M. The Hilton Head Over-35 Diet. New York: Warner Books, 1990.

Willis, Alicia P., ed. Diet Therapy Research Trends. New York: Nova Science, 2007.

Helen M. Davidson

  This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.