Suzanne Somers Weight Loss Plan

Definition

The Suzanne Somers Weight Loss Plan includes four books related to her Somersizing Diet Plan. The fourth and most recent book is called Fast and Easy. Her diet books present a guide to losing weight that does not focus on limiting caloric intake, but instead focuses on decreasing calories through the correct foods in the correct combinations. Her plan also focuses on reducing sugar and carbohydrate intake.

Origins

Somers says that her diet philosophy is based on the way she learned to eat during a trip to France. At that time she was introduced to the idea of eating groups of foods together for better metabolism and digestion. She reportedly used this information to stop her cycle of diet and weight gain and slim down for good. She also says that she has consulted many different diet and nutrition professionals; however, she herself has no formal training in nutrition.

Description

Suzanne Somers' diet focuses on three main components: eliminating some foods, separating certain foods, and combining certain foods. Somers also emphasizes eating fresh foods and generally staying away from foods that are packaged or processed. The diet does not require counting calories and does not specify portion sizes. Instead, Somers believes that if a dieter eats the correct foods in the correct combinations, the dieter will be able to eat three meals a day and eat until comfortably full, while still losing weight. She does not believe that being hungry is necessary for losing weight.

The main foods that Somers believes should be completely, or nearly completely, eliminated are sugars and starches. Somers also says that anything that the body converts to sugar should be eliminated or significantly restricted. This means that any foods that have sugar in any form, including processed white sugar, brown sugar, or maple syrup, need to be eliminated. Most carbohydrates and starchy vegetables such as corn are also on the list of foods that Somers refers to as “funky foods,” which dieters are advised to eliminate. Other banned foods include carrots, avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, nuts, whole milk, and whole yogurt. She believes it is especially important to stay away from simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are those that are easily broken down by the body, and are often found in heavily processed foods. Common simple carbohydrates include white rice and white flour.

Somers does believe in eating sweet-tasting things, however, and suggests using any form of sugar substitute. She also sells her own brand of artificial sugar replacement called Somersweet, and provides recipes that are intended to be made with Somersweet or other artificial sweeteners. Other foods that need to be eliminated during the main phases of the diet are all forms of alcohol. Alcohol is allowed in small quantities, along with chocolate and other sugars and starches, during the maintenance period of the diet.

KEY TERMS
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 regular diet with the expectation that it will improve health.
Mineral—
An inorganic substance found in the earth that is necessary in small quantities for the body to maintain health. Examples: zinc, copper, iron.
Vitamin—
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.

In addition to eliminating foods, the diet focuses on separating and combining foods. Somers divides foods into four categories. These categories are: proteins/fats, vegetables, carbohydrates, and fruits. These groups have rules about when to eat them, which groups should always be eaten together, and which should never be eaten together.

If a meal is going to include proteins or fats, such as any kind of meat, then it must be eaten with a vegetable. A meal with protein or fat can never be eaten with carbohydrates. This means that many desserts are not allowed because although butter and shortening are allowed, the dieter cannot eat them with any form of starch, which eliminates many desserts such as cookies and cakes.

If a meal contains carbohydrates, it cannot contain any form of protein or fat. This means if the meal contains whole-grain bread, it cannot contain any meat. Meals containing carbohydrates must also contain vegetables. This means that whole-grain pasta tossed with vegetables is allowed, but the dieter may not include any olive oil or butter on the pasta.

The Suzanne Somers Weight Loss Plan allows all varieties of fats to be eaten during the diet. This includes foods such as cream cheese, butter, and sour cream that may not usually be thought of as diet foods. Meat products of all varieties are also allowed. Most fruits are allowed, although not bananas, because they are high in carbohydrates. Many vegetables are allowed, although not carbohydrate-heavy vegetables such as corn, beets, or squash. The diet plan has three stages, which are called Level 1, Almost Level 1, and Level 2.

Level 1

Level 1 is for dieters who are just beginning the diet. This is the most strict period of the diet. During this stage no alcohol is allowed, nor are foods such as avocados, nuts, olives, or soy.

Almost Level 1

Almost level 1 is for dieters who have been following the Suzanne Somers diet for some time. When the dieter is beginning to see significant results he or she can move to this level. The idea behind this level is that these dieters can eat some foods or combinations of foods that are not optimal on a very occasional basis without compromising their weight-loss goals.

Level 2

This is the level for dieters who have reached their goal weight and are looking to maintain this weight. This maintenance phase allows some foods in moderation that were forbidden during the early phases of the diet. The allowed foods now include alcohol and soy. During this phase the dieter can sometimes make combinations of foods forbidden during other phases, such as some carbohydrates with fats. Eating in a way not allowed by the other phases of the plan is intended to be done only in moderation and only on an occasional basis.

The Suzanne Somers Weight Loss Plan focuses almost exclusively on food, with only a minor focus on exercise and stress-reduction techniques. There are also some encouraging words from Somers herself. She has produced many different cookbooks that are designed for use while on the diet and tell the dieter which level of the diet each recipe is appropriate for. Because it can often be difficult for busy dieters to find the time to cook meals that are fresh, good tasting, and follow the diet's recommendations, Somers offers a wide variety of convenience products specifically designed to be used while on her diet. These include dietary supplements, shakes, and bars. She also offers many prepackaged foods such as steaks, apple chips, and sauces. For all of her products she provides information on what level of the diet they are appropriate for and what category they fall under.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR

Function

The Suzanne Somers Weight Loss Plan is intended to create a changed set of eating habits that last a lifetime. The intended outcome of the diet is weight loss, but the diet does not have a defined end. Instead, it is intended that the dieter follow the level 2 recommendations for weight maintenance throughout his or her life. The diet is also intended to provide better general health through the emphasis on preparing and eating fresh foods instead of processed foods, which are often high in sodium and low in nutrients.

Benefits

There are many health benefits associated with weight loss. These include a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. For people who already have these or other obesity-related diseases and conditions, the symptoms may decrease in severity or in some cases resolve themselves with significant weight loss. In general, the risk of these diseases increases as the degree of obesity increases, as does the average severity of the symptoms.

Precautions

Anyone thinking of beginning a new diet should consult a medical practitioner. Requirements of calories, fat, and nutrients can differ significantly from person to person, depending on gender, age, weight, and many other factors such as the presence of diseases or other health conditions. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should be especially cautious because deficiencies of vitamins or minerals can have a significant negative impact on a baby. Because the Suzanne Somers Weight Loss Plan severely limits some foods, it is especially important to ensure that daily requirements of vitamins and minerals are being met. Before beginning any weight-loss plan, a person should talk with their doctor about medications they are currently taking and if the dose of the medication will be affected by weight loss or a change in diet.

Risks

There are some risks associated with any diet. It is often difficult to get enough of all the required vitamins and minerals when eating a limited variety of foods. The Suzanne Somers diet does provide many different foods that are permissible, and the restrictions are not as severe as with many other diets. However, because the diet forces the dieter to choose what kinds of food are going to be eaten during each meal, the potential for problems may increase if the same sorts of foods are chosen for every meal. Anyone beginning a diet may want to consult their physician about whether taking a vitamin or supplement might help them reduce the risk of vitamin or mineral deficiency.

There are also some risks associated with diets that allow the dieter to eat as much fat, red meat, and animal products, such as eggs and butter, as are desired. These foods, eaten in large quantities, are frequently associated with cardiovascular problems such as heart disease. Following good dietary practices as outlined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPlate, which suggests eating limited amounts of red meat and eating mostly lean meats, may help to reduce these risks.

Research and general acceptance

There has been no scientific research on the Suzanne Somers diet program. There is also no evidence that the idea of food grouping actually results in weight loss, better metabolism, or better digestion. Research has been done on the many benefits of weight loss. These documented benefits include lower risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and reduced severity of symptoms. There is a growing body of research investigating the effects of a diet that has large amounts of red meat, fats, and animal products and a low amount of carbohydrates. Evidence shows that this kind of diet can result in higher levels of cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease even if weight loss is occurring. Although this diet is not as severe in this regard as some diets, the evidence may still be relevant.

The Suzanne Somers diet does not make specific recommendations for exercises, although it does encourage the dieter to be active. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of light to moderate exercise for healthy adults. Following the recommendations of this diet may not meet these requirements.

Resources

BOOKS

Jones, Keith. Diet and Nutrition Sourcebook. 5th ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2016.

Robitaille, Francis P., ed. Diet Therapy Research Trends. New York: Nova Biomedical Books, 2007.

Somers, Suzanne. Fast and Easy: Lose Weight the Somersize Way with Quick, Delicious Meals for the Entire Family!. New York: Crown, 2002.

Somers, Suzanne. Sexy Forever: How to Fight Fat after Forty. New York: Crown Archetype, 2010.

Somers, Suzanne. Suzanne Somers' Eat Great, Lose Weight. New York: Crown, 1996.

Somers, Suzanne. Suzanne Somers' Eat, Cheat, and Melt the Fat Away. New York: Crown, 2001.

Somers, Suzanne. Suzanne Somers' Get Skinny on Fabulous Food. New York: Crown, 1999.

Somers, Suzanne. Suzanne Somers' Slim and Sexy Forever: The Hormone Solution for Permanent Weight Loss and Optimal Living. New York: Crown, 2005.

Helen M. Davidson
Revised by Megan Porter, RD

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