Shaun Ward MSc ANutr
Cookies, cookies, and more cookies.
The cookie diet was created by a popular weight-loss expert called Dr Sanford Siegal in the 1970’s.
Since then, proposers of the diet claim it has helped over half a million people lose weight.
The concept of the diet relies on its simplicity. It contains just 1 balanced meal per day, in addition to many “special” types of cookie snacks distributed across the rest of the day to satisfy cravings.
Overall the daily calorie intake is very low, set at between 1,000-1,200, with about halve of these calories sourced from, you guessed it, cookies.
But obviously to stick to this diet you cannot just eat any ordinary cookie, but actually one designed by Dr Siegal himself, which is supposedly superior in nutritional value.
People on the diet are therefore required to buy monthly cookie kits to stock up on their supplies, with many different flavors available to choose from; Chocolate Brownie, Maple Pancakes, Cinnamon Oatmeal, Butterscotch.
They do not come cheap either, averaging ~$170 for a one-month supply variety pack of cookies.
What Does A Day Of Eating Look Like On The Cookie Diet?
- 8am: 2 cookies (120 calories)
- 10am: 1 cookie (60 calories)
- 12pm: 1 cookie (60 calories)
- 2pm: 1 cookie (60 calories)
- 4pm: 2 cookies (120 calories)
- 6pm: 1 cookie (60 calories)
- 8pm: Balanced Dinner Meal (500-700 calories)
- 10pm: 1 cookie (60 calories)
Users have a few different options to go for regarding the evening dinner meal, but it is advised to stick to a meal that focuses on a serving of lean meat (or beans/lentils for veggie options) plus cooked vegetables.
How Long Should You Stick To The Cookie Diet For?
People are advised to stay on the diet until they reach a healthy weight.
After someone reaches their goal weight, they can then move on to the “maintenance phase”.
This phase requires adding in some light exercise and increasing the amount of balanced meals to 3 per day.
However, the cookies are still to be used as snacks in between meals to satisfy cravings and stay away from binge eating.
What Are The Ingredients Inside The Cookies?
So, a great question to have before going on such a cookie-based diet, is what exactly is in these cookies that makes them so special?
So here are the ingredients with Dr Siegal’s cookies:
- Wheat flour
- Canola oil
- Milk solids
- Egg white solids
- Whole wheat flour
- Whey crisp rice
- Additives and preservatives
And in terms of the nutritional profile per serving (2 cookies):
- 120 calories
- 4 grams of protein
- 4 grams of fat (1 gram of saturated fat)
- 16 grams of carbohydrates (9 grams of sugar)
- 7 grams of dietary fiber
- 200mg of sodium
Hopefully it does not take a nutritionist to work out that sugar, flour, oil, and additives are probably not the “healthy” ingredients that they are advertised to be.
In all honesty, these cookies are nearly identical to ordinary cookies. If anything, they are just smaller in size which means they can be listed as containing less calories per serving.
They also have a slightly higher protein content than standard cookies which may provide a small edge in terms of increasing satiety and reaching daily protein recommendations.
However, claims that these cookies contain a “secret blend of amino acid proteins” should be removed as the protein-containing ingredients are simply egg and whey protein.
Even more interesting is that despite the inclusion of typical sweet ingredients, the online reviews of the product largely criticize their taste. Dr Seigel’s own website actually states that “we wouldn’t call them delicious”. Unfortunately, we haven’t had the chance to taste the cookies, but if the creators of the cookies aren’t fans of the product, we think it is fair to say that not many people will be.
The Negative of the Cookie Diet
As you've probably figured out by now, there are some drawbacks to this diet. Here's what we think:
It's An Extremely Deficient Diet
This diet is not recommended for anyone. It is low in calories, vitamins and minerals, and high in sugar and oil.
If someone was to follow the exact structure that the cookie diet lays out, it is impossible to not become deficient in nearly every essential micronutrient that is required for health.
- Increased risk of disease
- Increased risk of illness
- Reduced mental function
- Reduced physical capabilities
- Reduced lifespan
- Poor gut health
The important thing to remember with a diet such as this is that it will likely cause weight loss due to the low amount of daily calories, but this should not be confused with it being a healthy dietary approach.
The best weight loss diets do not just account for how to lose fat, but also how to retain ones overall health and wellbeing in the process. After all, there is no point losing 50 pounds if your health and performance is going to suffer.
But don’t just take our word for it, here are some other claims made by health doctors:
- “Not a nutritious eating plan; just a fad diet.”
- “The diet does not contain enough necessary nutrients.”
- “Just cookies with added protein, nothing new.”
- “This is a fad diet. It misinforms the public.”
It's Not Sustainable In The Long Run
The number 1 factor when looking at any healthy diet to follow is its sustainability.
Now as much as eating cookies every day for your entire life sounds amazing, it obviously isn’t something that can achieve good health in the long-run, and doesn’t cater towards being flexible with other options when there is no option to eat cookies.
Let’s just say the family Christmas meal probably won’t be as exciting as it should be.
But not only this, but from a scientific perspective, very low calorie, nutrient deficient diets are extremely difficult to maintain in the long-term. Most individuals will struggle to have the willpower to consistently eat such a little amount of food, and those that do will likely run into health issues at some stage.
For example, very low calorie diets are known to lead to a variety of psychological and hormonal issues, which can cause menstrual irregularities, depression, anxiety, decreased self-esteem, nervousness, and irritability .
The cookie diet is a weight loss approach which focuses on the consumption of just 1 meal per day, and a lot of snacking in between with “special” cookies.
However, although weight loss will likely occur on the diet, this is not a good strategy for anyone to follow.
The cookies are not healthy by any definition, and considering that they comprise half of ones daily calorie intake, this will inevitably cause severe micronutrient deficiencies and health problems in the long run.
It is advised to stick to a nutrient-rich diet that contains a lot more whole foods such as meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.