Richard Simmons Diet


The Richard Simmons diet focuses on three areas: diet, exercise, and motivation. It emphasizes a balanced diet, moderate exercise, and a positive outlook.


Richard Simmons.

Richard Simmons.
(Bill Clark/Getty Images)

When Simmons was 16, and weighed more than ever, he decided to try a different approach to weight loss. This time he educated himself about nutrition, healthy eating, and exercise by borrowing books from the library. Through this self-education he learned to stop doing things that were bad for his body and start doing things that were positive. Over time he slowly lost his extra weight and became healthier.

Simmons says that it was his early struggle with his weight, and how bad he felt about himself during that time, that inspired him to try to help others lose weight. Knowing all of the things he had tried made him want to help others lose weight the right way. In 1973, Simmons moved to Los Angeles, California, and was inspired to open his own weight loss and fitness club because he could not find any clubs that were welcoming to people who were not already in great shape. He called his club “Slimmons” and opened it in Beverly Hills. His own experience with weight loss is his only qualification. Simmons has no formal training in nutrition.

Since he opened “Slimmons,” people have lost more than 3,000,000 total pounds following Richard Simmons's diet and exercise plans. He invented the Deal-a-Meal, the FoodMover to help people easily keep track of how much they have eaten each day, and a steamer to help people make healthy meals. He has also written an autobiography and cookbooks; made more than 50 exercise videos, which have sold more than 20 million copies; and had his own Emmy Award–winning television show.


The Richard Simmons diet consists of three main parts: diet, exercise, and motivation. These three parts are combined to make a weight loss and exercise program that follows healthy guidelines for most adults, and is intended to provide weight loss at a moderate pace.


The Richard Simmons diet follows guidelines for a balanced, healthy diet and moderately paced weight loss. It emphasizes fruits and vegetables, with a minimum of seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The minimum daily number of calories on the diet is 1,200. This is generally thought to be a healthy number of calories per day for adults trying to achieve weight loss. The diet includes about 60% carbohydrates, 20% fats, and 20% proteins. Also included each day are 2 servings of low- or nonfat dairy products.

Richard Simmons provides a number of different tools to help people follow his diet more easily. One of these is known as the Deal-A-Meal, which provides cards in a wallet. Each card represents one serving of a food group, and during the day as the dieter eats the cards are moved from one side of the wallet to the other. Once there are no cards left the dieter knows that he or she has eaten all of the allotted food for that day. A more recent version of this tool is the FoodMover, which is a tool designed to fit easily into pockets or purses. As the day goes by the dieter closes a tab for each serving of proteins, carbohydrates, and other food groups as they are eaten. It also includes windows for water and exercise, as well as motivational messages.

Many different cookbooks are also available, which include a wide variety of recipes designed to be eaten while on Simmons's diet. Also available is a food diary so that the dieter has an accurate way to record not only how many servings of what food groups were eaten, but which specific foods, and any other information the dieter wants to record.

Exercise Motivation

Richard Simmons provides motivation to dieters following his plan in many different forms. On his website, , dieters can join his clubhouse, for a fee, and get access to many helpful tools. There are discussion boards where dieters can share their frustrations or encourage others, and a daily motivation message from Simmons. He also frequently chats live to members to give them even more motivation. His exercise DVDs are filled with upbeat music and encouraging words.

Simmons's website provides information about when he can be seen on any of the many television shows on which he appears as a guest. Additionally, there are also many opportunities for dieters to be motivated by Simmons, in person. He travels an average of 250 days per year, according to his website, and visits places as diverse as senior citizens' centers, schools, and shopping malls. When he is not traveling he still regularly teaches exercise classes at his health and fitness club “Slimmons.” He also organizes a cruise from New York to the Caribbean each year that dieters can sign up for. The cruise is designed for people following his program and includes special meals, motivational talks by Simmons, and exercise.


The Richard Simmons diet is intended to help people lose weight at a healthy, moderate pace over time, and to help the dieter keep the weight off after the desired weight loss has been achieved. Simmons intends the diet for all dieters, even those who are disabled by their obesity. He also believes that it can be effective for senior citizens, or others who need a more moderate pace of exercise.

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.
More than 20% over an individual's ideal weight for height and age or having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater.
A general term for something that harms or poisons the body.
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.


There are many benefits to losing weight, being healthy, and being fit. The benefits of weight loss can be very significant, and are generally considered to be the greatest for people who are extremely obese. People who are obese are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many other diseases and disorders. The risk and severity of these disorders is generally greater the more overweight a person is. Weight loss, if achieved at a moderate pace through a healthy diet and regular exercise, can reduce the risk of these and other obesity-related diseases. Increased exercise can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. An additional benefit of the Richard Simmons diet is that his motivational messages are intended to help dieters get through the trickiest times of dieting without giving up, and can help lead the dieter to a more positive outlook overall.




With any diet or exercise plan there are some risks. It is often difficult to get enough of some vitamins and minerals when eating a limited diet. Anyone beginning a diet may want to consult their physician about whether taking a vitamin or supplement could help them reduce this risk. Richard Simmons' workouts are generally intended for everyone to be able to do safely, although some risk of injury still exists as with any exercise program. Injuries during exercise can include strained or sprained muscles, and proper warm-up and cool-down procedures should be followed to help minimize these risks. It is often best to begin with light or moderate exercise, and increase the intensity slowly over weeks or months.

Research and general acceptance

Richard Simmons's diet has not been the subject of any significant scholarly research. However, moderately limiting caloric intake and eating a diet low in fats and carbohydrates and high in vegetable and plant products is generally accepted as a healthy diet for most people.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 30 minutes per day of light to moderate exercise for healthy adults. Following Richard Simmons' program would meet this minimum recommendation. Many studies have shown that even this amount of exercise can have significant health benefits including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have also shown that exercise is a very important part of any weight-loss plan, and diet and exercise combined are more effective for long-term weight loss and weight maintenance than either diet or exercise alone.



Richard Simmons official website. (accessed April 17, 2018).

Helen M. Davidson

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