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What Is the GM Diet?

author image Michelle Kerns
Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.
What Is the GM Diet?
The GM diet begins with a day devoted to eating only fruit. Photo Credit: JGI/Blend Images/Getty Images

The GM diet stands for the General Motors diet, a 7-day weight-loss program touted as an exclusive plan developed for 1980s General Motors employees with the blessing of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Johns Hopkins Research Center. However, as "New York Times" writer Roger Cohen discovered, General Motors denies any connection with the diet. The plan strongly resembles other popular week-long diets such as the cabbage soup diet and the Sacred Heart diet. Like these other programs, the GM diet is criticized by experts like University of Florida nutritional scientist Elaine Turner as being unsustainable and unhealthy. Talk to your doctor before beginning any form of the GM diet.

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How It Works

The GM diet has a strict set of eating instructions for each day of the program. On day one, followers eat all fruit, except bananas. Day two is all vegetables, starting with a baked potato and butter. The third day allows for both fruits and vegetables, while day four focuses on milk and bananas. Day five is reserved for lean beef and tomatoes; day six allows beef with any type of vegetable. On the diet's final day, dieters drink fresh fruit juice and eat brown rice with vegetables. An all-you-can eat vegetable soup is introduced in day four, and dieters are encouraged to drink up to 15 glasses of water daily.

Possible Benefits

If the GM diet supplies you with fewer daily calories than you typically consume, you will lose weight. Cohen reported that after adhering to the program for a week, he lost 11 pounds. The program may appeal to dieters who dislike cooking or complicated meal plans and who are attracted to the idea of consuming unlimited amounts of permitted foods. Turner says that following the GM diet for the allotted seven days isn't likely to cause harm unless you have a previous medical condition.

Potential Drawbacks

The biggest problem with the GM diet is that its guidelines are unsustainable. Even if you lose weight by strictly following the seven-day plan, you will probably gain the pounds back once you return to your regular eating habits. The program does not encourage regular exercise or teach followers to incorporate nutritious foods and low-fat cooking techniques into their normal lifestyle. In addition, the diet severely restricts your intake of whole grains, seafood and dairy products, all of which contain nutrients that can contribute to a lower risk of chronic medical problems such as cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.

What the Experts Say

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the best way to lose weight -- and keep it off -- is to control your portion sizes, exercise regularly and center your daily diet on a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods. The GM diet does not encourage any of these principles. In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health says that weight-management programs like the GM diet that push a one-size-fits-all strategy won't be effective for most people, since everyone is different. If you're having trouble losing weight, ask your doctor or a nutritionist to help you develop a balanced eating plan that includes scheduled physical activity.

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