The Cookie Diet
Eat cookies and lose weight? That's the premise of the Cookie Diet, the low-calorie diet that might help take off the weight, but might not be effective in keeping it off.
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass, III, MD, MPH
The Cookie Diet, created by Stanford Siegal, MD, in 1975, is a low-calorie diet designed to help people lose weight while eating specially prepared cookies. Today, there are other versions of the Cookie Diet, such as the Hollywood Cookie Diet and the Soypal Cookie Diet, but none have been around as long as the original.
The Cookie Diet: Meal Replacement
According to Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet Book, his Cookie Diet is based on 50 years of treating more than 500,000 patients who were overweight, and Siegal describes it as proven system that many doctors have used for decades. He acknowledges that, with a catchy name and concept, the Cookie Diet might lead people to consider his diet a fad, but writes that it is a science-based weight-loss program.
In the most basic terms, the Cookie Diet is a meal replacement plan, says Marisa Moore, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Dr. Siegal’s cookies are made with a blend of amino acids said to help control hunger so that you want to eat less. By eating the cookies instead of a meal, you also control your calorie intake. According to the Cookie Diet, eating 800 to 1,000 calories a day is optimal; when people eat too little — say 600 calories — they do not burn calories as easily because their metabolism slows down too much. The body burns calories at its maximum efficiency when it consumes 800 to 1,200 calories a day, according to the diet materials.
“You buy or order these cookies, which are basically regular cookies with added protein,” says Lona Sandon, RD, LD, American Dietetic Association spokesperson. “It’s not anything groundbreaking.”
The Cookie Diet: In a Nutshell
On the Cookie Diet, people are instructed to eat four to six cookies a day for breakfast and lunch, followed by either a light frozen dinner or a home-cooked meal of protein such as fish or meat and vegetables.
The Cookie Diet offers two caloric choices for dinner: a 500-calorie option and a 700-calorie option. A sample 500-calorie dinner menu includes a four-ounce serving of shrimp sautéed with basil, scallions, and spices served with a side dish of a cherry tomato and bean salad in a light vinaigrette.
The Cookie Diet: Pros
The Cookie Diet is careful about recommending that dieters work with their doctor while on the diet. In his book, Siegal recommends that dieters check with their doctor before going on the Cookie Diet to make sure that a low-calorie diet is right for them. He also insists that dieters get regular check-ups to make sure that the low-calorie diet isn’t causing any health problems. “It’s important to make sure that you’re under a physician’s care if you go on this diet,” agrees Moore.
The Cookie Diet: Cons
For many people, this low-calorie diet may just not provide enough food. “Most people cannot get the nutrients they need from an 800-calorie diet,” says Moore, adding that since it restricts fruit, whole grains, and fiber, dieters miss out on important essential nutrients.
The Cookie Diet also doesn’t provide any guidance on healthy long-term changes such as exercising and making healthy food choices. “The problem with the Cookie Diet is that you don’t learn any healthy eating habits or lifestyle changes,” says Sandon. Another problem: “People are likely to become bored with the limited food choices,” Sandon adds. And the more bored you are, the less likely you'll be able to stay on the diet, which can lead to yo-yo dieting and a physical and emotional rollercoaster.
The Cookie Diet: Short-Term Effects, Long-Term Effects
The Cookie Diet will probably help you lose weight quickly simply because you are not eating enough, says Moore. Long-term success will be much more challenging because the Cookie Diet doesn’t provide the tools people need to maintain a healthy weight. “The Cookie Diet is lacking variety, exercise, and lifestyle changes such as learning healthy eating habits,” says Sandon. “It can be something that can help you lose weight temporarily, but it is not a long-term plan.”