There are more than a few sketchy diets out there claiming to be safe and effective when they’re actually anything but. Is the GM diet plan one of them — or can it really help you effectively jump-start weight loss?
What is the GM diet plan?
The GM diet is a low cal diet that proponents claim can help you lose 10 to 17 pounds in a week, cleanse your body, improve your digestion, and even achieve peace and relaxation. It’s billed as “a panacea for all your weight loss needs” that can deliver “astonishing” results.
In general, any diet that comes boasting promises like those probably isn’t going to give you lasting results (or even make sense). But let’s give the GM diet a fair shot and see what it’s really about and whether it could possibly live up to its claims.
According to gmdiet.net, the GM diet was developed by General Motors (yes, the car company) in 1987 to help employees lose weight and improve their health. The website says the USDA, the FDA, and Johns Hopkins Medicine helped design and test the diet, though there’s no evidence backing this up.
It was basically designed as a weeklong super low calorie eating plan consisting mostly of nonstarchy fruits and vegetables. The last few days include some protein, grains, and juice, and you’re supposed to drink a ton of water throughout the week.
The GM diet is said to get its fat-melting powers from negative calorie foods — foods that burn more calories than they add. (These don’t actually exist, BTW.) It also touts benefits like:
- not leaving you feeling like you’re starving
- keeping your taste buds pampered
- helping you achieve a complete body transformation
- helping you rid your body of toxins
- relaxing your mind and soul
- helping your skin achieve peak radiance
- giving you peace of mind, body, and heart
If this seems like a lot to accomplish in just 7 days, don’t get discouraged. You can repeat the GM diet until you reach your weight loss goal / achieve all your dreams / pass out from hunger / give up and order a pizza. It’s really up to you.
If you were going to try the GM diet, here’s what you’d want to stock up on and what you’d need to avoid.
|Approved foods||Nonapproved foods|
|fresh fruit||pretty much everything else|
|potatoes (just a few, and only on certain days!)|
|nonfat milk or soy milk|
|rice (brown and white are both cool)|
|beef, chicken, or fish|
|cottage cheese, if you’re veg|
|100% fruit juice|
|nuts or sprouts, in small amounts|
|plain coffee, tea, or club soda|
Most of these foods are meant to be eaten plain, by themselves. But you can also make a batch of GM Wonder Soup — essentially a watery cabbage soup with some chili peppers — and enjoy it any time the mood strikes.
The GM diet doesn’t owe its supposed power only to its very short list of approved foods. Advocates of the diet claim that its benefits also come from eating these foods in specific combinations, in specific quantities, on specific days.
It looks like this:
It’s all about the fruit, baby. Today you’re having:
- as much fruit as you want (Any fruit but banana is basically fine, but proponents of the diet claim that watermelon and cantaloupe are especially beneficial and filling.)
- at least 6 to 8 glasses of water
Starch up in the a.m., then veg out.
- a small sweet potato or white potato for breakfast
- as many nonstarchy veggies as you want (basically anything except more potatoes, carrots, corn, or peas)
- at least 8 to 10 glasses of water
Today is when your body is supposed to start “losing fat in chunks,” according to the diet’s creators. You can eat:
- all the fruits that were allowed on day 1
- all the nonstarchy vegetables that were allowed on day 2 (You can enjoy these in a salad or boiled, but don’t add any fat.)
- 10 to 12 glasses of water
The weirdness starts to tick up a little bit here. You can have:
- as much Wonder Soup as you want
- 8 bananas
- 3 glasses of nonfat milk
- 10 to 12 glasses of water
Day 5 is all about celebrating (that you’re still alive). You can feast on:
- 20 ounces of lean protein like beef, chicken, or fish, spread out over two meals (or 2 cups of brown rice, if you’re vegetarian)
- 6 tomatoes
- 12 to 14 glasses of water
Just chugging along now.
- 20 ounces of lean protein like beef, chicken or fish, spread out over the whole day (or 20 ounces of cottage cheese, if you’re vegetarian)
- all the vegetables you want, except tomatoes and potatoes
- as much water as you can possibly drink (because now you’re a fish)
You should be feeling “lighter than ever” today.
- 2 cups of brown or white rice
- any and all vegetables
- 1 to 2 glasses of 100 percent fruit juice
- as much water as you can possibly drink
What about exercise?
Any weight loss plan worth its salt should include some regular exercise, and the GM diet plan is no exception.
You’ll want to take it easy on days 1 through 3 and stick to some super-gentle yoga, since you’ll probably be starving. All those bananas should give you enough energy to take a walk on day 4. Starting with your protein feast on day 5, you can also work in some daily strength training.
As with any other exercise or wellness plan, you can make some tweaks to your liking. But keep in mind that your mileage may vary if you don’t follow the diet exactly.
- Add some sprouts or nuts. You can substitute up to 2 ounces of sprouts or 1 ounce of nuts for one of the existing food components on the menu. Or just have them as a snack if you’re really hungry.
- Make it meatless. You can swap out the beef, chicken, or fish for cottage cheese or brown rice if you’re veg.
- Skip the dairy. If you’re not a fan of cow’s milk, you can swap it for soy milk.
The GM diet is sometimes billed as a low carb diet (even though it’s not, thanks to all the fruit and the potatoes and the juice). Some people compare it to diets like Atkins or keto, but it’s really in a totally different realm.
The Atkins and keto diets emphasize fat and protein over carbs always, not just on some days. (Like, they’ll never tell you to drink glasses of fruit juice.) They focus more on getting a certain macronutrient ratio than on eating hyperspecific food combinations and keeping your calories ultra-low.
And even though they’re often hard to follow in the long term, they’re touted as eating plans you can follow for life, unlike the 7-day GM diet.
The GM diet plan comes with some lofty ambitions, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any benefits to go along with the drawbacks. Let’s have a look at both.
- It encourages you to eat lots of fruit and veggies. Produce makes up the bulk of this eating plan, and most of us could use more of it in our diets. Research suggests high fruit and veggie intake is linked to lower weight, a longer life, and even better mental health.
- It’s packed with fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Eating all those fruits and veggies means you probably won’t have much trouble hitting your daily fiber quota. And since fresh produce is packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, you’ll get plenty of those too.
- It helps you stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water does so many good things for your body. But FYI, it is technically possible to have too much.
- It has no processed foods. Most of us could benefit from eating less sugar and fewer refined carbs, and you won’t find any packaged or highly processed foods on the GM diet. It’s really simple stuff that’s free of added sugar and sodium, unhealthy fats, and additives or preservatives.
That’s a pretty impressive list of perks, right? The thing is, you don’t have to follow the GM diet to reap these benefits. It’s totally possible to establish these habits without following a restrictive crash diet like this one.
- It might be dangerous. Healthy weight loss happens at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week. So the fact that the GM diet promises a loss of 10 to 17 pounds in the same time frame is the ultimate red flag.
- The weight loss is temporary. The GM diet plan is a crash diet designed to help you max out your weight loss in a short period. The problem with any kind of hyperspecific, short-term diet is that once you go off it, you’ll almost definitely gain the weight back.
- It puts restrictions on your relationship with food. Sure, the GM diet focuses on good-for-you foods. But putting limits on food groups and calories leads to feelings of restriction and deprivation. And that can ultimately backfire.
- No research supports it. There are zero studies that claim the GM diet is actually healthy or good for weight loss. Zero.
- It’s too low in calories and some important nutrients. Simply put, it would be almost impossible to get the nourishment you need on this diet. Some days are totally devoid of nutrients like protein, iron, or vitamin B12. That might not be a huge deal if you only follow the diet for a week. But if you repeat it, you could eventually end up with a nutrient deficiency.
- You probably won’t feel good while you’re on it. Just look at the menu. How much energy could you possibly have to get through the day if you’re only eating vegetables or milk and bananas or chowing down on a 20-ounce steak?
That’s gonna be a “no,” dawg. The GM diet is an ultra-restrictive crash diet, and you should steer clear. Sure, you might lose some weight, but it’ll mostly and come right back when you stop the diet. So it’s definitely not helpful in that department.
On top of that, it’s really not sustainable — maybe not even for a week. Sure, you could probably stick with the weird menu for a day or two. But what happens when you have plans for dinner or get invited to a party? Are you going to bring eight bananas or six tomatoes with you?
Even though the diet emphasizes wholesome foods like fruits, veggies, and lean protein, the restrictive nature could cause you to miss out on a lot of important nutrients. And since it’s so low in calories, it might also leave you feeling sluggish, weak, or cranky. Not fun.
The GM diet plan is a crash diet that might help you lose a little bit of weight. But you’ll probably feel crappy while you’re on it, and the weight will quickly come back once the diet is over.
Seriously, any diet that tells you to eat six tomatoes or eight bananas in one day just isn’t a good idea. Please, please don’t waste your time.