The Biscuit Diet, a low-calorie, meal-replacement program, is another name for the Cookie Diet, created in 1975 by Dr. Sanford Siegal. Siegal’s diet, originally intended for his overweight Miami, Florida patients, has grown into an $18 million-a-year enterprise, according to The New York Times. Competitors have sought to cash in on the profits, creating their own cookies – or biscuits – with promises that dieters can lose 10 lbs. per month on their plans.
The premise of the original Cookie Diet and its imitators is that you eat high-protein cookies during the day and 1 low-calorie meal at night. You consume between 800 and 1200 calories a day, depending on the plan and the biscuits. Siegal’s cookies – and the 300-calorie dinner allowed on his diet – score on the low end. Other Biscuit Diet plans permit more substantial evening meals. Siegal’s diet is considered extreme, and all its imitators contain fewer calories than the 1500 to 1800 recommended for female and male dieters by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Very low calorie diets should be followed only with medical supervision, according to the National Institutes of Health. The Cookie Diet got its start this way, and for years Dr. Siegal refused to supply his cookies to anyone but his patients and a few trusted doctors. You can now purchase his cookies online and at some drugstores. Siegal and others who sell similar products continue to advocate for medical supervision, but Siegal insists low calorie diets are safe: ''I have yet to see the first case where anyone suffered the ill effects of a low calorie diet.''
Diets that contain fewer than 1000 calories do not promote long-term weight loss, according to Dr. Ovidio Bermudez, medical director of Laureate Eating Disorders Program in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Extremely low-calorie diets, whether they include meal replacement cookies, bars or shakes or eliminate solid food entirely, can harm your kidneys, create gallstones, accelerate your heart rate, deplete your potassium reserves and make you dizzy, according to The New York Times. The American Dietetic Association says any diet that contains a single food or food group in its title is inherently unbalanced.
Meal replacement cookies contain a lot of protein, intended to curb your appetite and help you avoid eating high-calorie foods. Dr. Siegal’s promise that you can lose 10 lbs. a month on his diets is not inaccurate. If you keep your calorie intake to 800 – cookies and a meal of, say, skinless chicken and vegetables – you can expect to lose about 1 lb. every three days. If you normally needed 2000 calories a day to maintain your current weight, you’d incur a calorie deficit of 1200 on the Cookie Diet. Since 3500 calories equal 1 lb. of fat, your deficit would yield a 10 lb. loss in 30 days.
If you’ve fallen in love with cookie or biscuit diets other than Dr. Siegal’s, you may want to consider stocking up on your favorites. Dr. Siegal took at least one major competitor to court, accusing Dr. Sasson Moulavi of selling copycat products that capitalized on the Cookie Diet trademark. Dr. Moulavi is the medical director of Smart for Life Weight Management Centers, a chain of diet clinics that offers appetite-suppressing cookies as a key component of the weight loss plan.
You will almost certainly lose weight on a low-calorie diet plan, with or without cookies, but pop star Madonna said the Cookie Diet included an undesirable side effect. She said her then-husband Guy Ritchie had no interest in sex while on the diet.
- “Drug Week”; Cookie Diet Creator Sanford Siegal, D.O., M.D., Weighs in on Madonna’s Remarks; (NO BYLINE); May 2, 2008
- “The New York Times”; A Few Cookies a Day to Keep the Pounds Away?; Abby Ellin; Oct. 22, 2009
- USDA: Inside the Food Pyramid
- “The Globe and Mail”; Weight-loss Guru Engaged in Bitter Biscuit Battle; Beppi Cros Ariol; April 24, 2007
- Weight-Control Information Network: Very Low-Calorie Diets