The Flavor Point Diet
This diet is based on the neuroscience of appetite and teaches dieters to reduce hunger by organizing meals based on flavors. Learn the pros and cons of the Flavor Point Diet and whether it could help you lose weight.
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass, III, MD, MPH
The Flavor Point Diet, created by Yale physician David L. Katz, MD, sets out to help you lose weight and keep it off without feeling hungry by teaching you to organize your eating according to the flavors of food, while still eating a balanced diet. But can a diet based on your taste buds spell success?
The Flavor Point Diet: How It Works
“The principle of the Flavor Point Diet is based on the physiology of taste,” says Jeannie Gazzaniga-Moloo, PhD, RD, a dietitian and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “When a flavor is tasted repeatedly throughout the day, the brain’s appetite center is more quickly satisfied, so the body senses satiety more quickly and we eat fewer calories.”
Gazzaniga-Moloo says the Flavor Point Diet works to reduce appetite on two levels. Besides helping you organize your eating around particular flavors you repeat throughout the day, the Flavor Point Diet book, co-written with Dr. Katz’s wife Catherine, shows you how to cook meals or choose foods that are minimally processed and therefore do not contain many flavors mixed together.
The Flavor Point Diet: The Plan
The diet is organized into three phases. Phase one involves planning your meals around one particular flavor, called flavor themes. For instance, all of the meals for the first day of the diet emphasize the flavor of raisins and currants. Breakfast consists of whole-grain cereal with raisins; lunch is a currant-lentil spinach salad. On day two, or pineapple day, there is a pineapple smoothie for breakfast, a pineapple-walnut chicken salad for lunch, and pineapple shrimp for dinner.
“Phase two of the meal plan includes a greater variety of daily flavors whereby only meals, not entire days, are flavor-themed,” says Gazzaniga-Moloo. Phase three, which is intended to be the phase you can continue indefinitely, allows you to choose your own meals based on the principles you have learned in phases one and two.
Flavor Point Diet: Sample Menu
As noted, in phase one, on any given day all that day’s meals follow a theme food. As an example, here is “Spinach Day” from the third week:
- Breakfast: Spinach and feta cheese omelet with whole-grain toast
- Snack: Crackers or baby carrots with spinach-yogurt dip
- Lunch: Turkey and spinach salad
- Dinner: Pasta with spinach marinara sauce, salad, and mixed berries
Flavor Point Diet: Pros
The Flavor Point Diet has a lot to recommend it:
- The diet is nutritious. “As should be expected from a physician with Dr. Katz’s credentials, the diet plan is nutritionally sound,” says Gazzaniga-Moloo. “The flavor themes throughout the book build on an abundance of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, and poultry, and encourage limiting fat and opting for healthier snacks.” Besides being well-balanced, the diet meets the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, says Katie Clark, RD, CDE, MPH, a dietitian and assistant clinical professor in the graduate school of nursing at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Katz also emphasizes high fiber.
- The diet emphasizes weight management through calorie reduction. All meal plans are 1,000 to 1,500 calories. “Even cheat day [which involves flavors such as chocolate] is calorie-controlled,” says Clark.
- The plan is well laid out. Gazzaniga-Moloo says the book is easy to understand. Clark adds that Katz provides more than 100 recipes and menus to get you through six weeks of the diet plan.
- It helps people lose weight. “Most people who subscribe to the Flavor Point Diet will lose weight as they would with any low-fat, calorie-restricted diet that encourages physical activity,” notes Gazzaniga-Moloo. The diet recommends 30 minutes of daily exercise, combining aerobic exercises with those for muscle toning.
Flavor Point Diet: Cons
There are a few drawbacks with the plan:
- The concept can be taken too far. If that happens, the diet could become too restrictive in terms of the variety of foods eaten. Eating a variety of foods is an important part of healthy eating, a point emphasized by the ADA and the USDA.
- The diet may be challenging to follow. Clark says the recipes are a bit complicated, tedious, and take a lot of preparation time. Gazzaniga-Moloo adds that if a family with young children, especially picky eaters, is trying to follow this meal plan, it could be difficult to get the children to eat these flavor-themed meals.
- There’s not much research substantiating success. Clark says just about all the research the author cites is his own, which raises questions of possible bias.
- The plan is “somewhat gimmicky,” says Clark. “[It is] unlikely that ‘flavor’ is the most important concept in food choices for weight loss.”
Flavor Point Diet: Short-Term Effects, Long-Term Effects
“The short-term effects are appetite satiety and weight loss,” says Gazzaniga-Moloo.
According to the book, it is possible to lose up to 16 pounds in six weeks, “which is a reasonable weight-loss goal,” says Clark. As for long-term effects, Clark adds, “[The] authors hope that by phase three you are adopting [the plan] for life where you choose foods that focus on [a] short list of ingredients.”
Flavor Point Diet: Is It for Everyone?
If you have diabetes or other health conditions, you should consult with your doctor before beginning this diet, says Gazzaniga-Moloo.
Clark says those who aren’t skilled cooks or prefer a simple diet may not want to try the Flavor Point Diet: “It is a good read, but I do not think it is the most reasonable approach to weight loss.”
However, if you are looking for a novel and healthy diet and have the time and skills to prepare the meals, this might just be the new twist you’re looking for. As Gazzaniga-Moloo says, “With the emphasis on flavor, the Flavor Point Diet might just put some enjoyment back into eating for those who are trying to lose weight and eat healthier.”