Calling BS on The GM Diet Plan

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

There are more than a few sketchy diets out there claiming to be safe and effective when they’re actually anything but. Is the GM diet plan one of them — or can it really help you effectively jump-start weight loss?

In general, any diet that comes boasting promises like those probably isn’t going to give you lasting results (or even make sense). But let’s give the GM diet a fair shot and see what it’s really about and whether it could possibly live up to its claims.

Some background on the GM diet plan

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According to gmdiet.net, the GM diet was developed by General Motors (yes, the car company) in 1987 to help employees lose weight and improve their health. The website says the USDA, the FDA, and Johns Hopkins Medicine helped design and test the diet, though there’s no evidence backing this up.

It was basically designed as a weeklong super low calorie eating plan consisting mostly of nonstarchy fruits and vegetables. The last few days include some protein, grains, and juice, and you’re supposed to drink a ton of water throughout the week.

The GM diet is said to get its fat-melting powers from negative calorie foods — foods that burn more calories than they add. (These don’t actually exist, BTW.) It also touts benefits like:

  • not leaving you feeling like you’re starving
  • keeping your taste buds pampered
  • helping you achieve a complete body transformation
  • helping you rid your body of toxins
  • relaxing your mind and soul
  • helping your skin achieve peak radiance
  • giving you peace of mind, body, and heart

If this seems like a lot to accomplish in just 7 days, don’t get discouraged. You can repeat the GM diet until you reach your weight loss goal / achieve all your dreams / pass out from hunger / give up and order a pizza. It’s really up to you.

What do you eat?

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If you were going to try the GM diet, here’s what you’d want to stock up on and what you’d need to avoid.

Most of these foods are meant to be eaten plain, by themselves. But you can also make a batch of GM Wonder Soup — essentially a watery cabbage soup with some chili peppers — and enjoy it any time the mood strikes.

Here’s what the 7 days look like

The GM diet doesn’t owe its supposed power only to its very short list of approved foods. Advocates of the diet claim that its benefits also come from eating these foods in specific combinations, in specific quantities, on specific days.

It looks like this:

Day 1
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It’s all about the fruit, baby. Today you’re having:

  • as much fruit as you want (Any fruit but banana is basically fine, but proponents of the diet claim that watermelon and cantaloupe are especially beneficial and filling.)
  • at least 6 to 8 glasses of water
Day 2

Starch up in the a.m., then veg out.

  • a small sweet potato or white potato for breakfast
  • as many nonstarchy veggies as you want (basically anything except more potatoes, carrots, corn, or peas)
  • at least 8 to 10 glasses of water
Day 3

Today is when your body is supposed to start “losing fat in chunks,” according to the diet’s creators. You can eat:

  • all the fruits that were allowed on day 1
  • all the nonstarchy vegetables that were allowed on day 2 (You can enjoy these in a salad or boiled, but don’t add any fat.)
  • 10 to 12 glasses of water
Day 4

The weirdness starts to tick up a little bit here. You can have:

  • as much Wonder Soup as you want
  • 8 bananas
  • 3 glasses of nonfat milk
  • 10 to 12 glasses of water
Day 5
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Day 5 is all about celebrating (that you’re still alive). You can feast on:

  • 20 ounces of lean protein like beef, chicken, or fish, spread out over two meals (or 2 cups of brown rice, if you’re vegetarian)
  • 6 tomatoes
  • 12 to 14 glasses of water
Day 6

Just chugging along now.

  • 20 ounces of lean protein like beef, chicken or fish, spread out over the whole day (or 20 ounces of cottage cheese, if you’re vegetarian)
  • all the vegetables you want, except tomatoes and potatoes
  • as much water as you can possibly drink (because now you’re a fish)
Day 7

You should be feeling “lighter than ever” today.

  • 2 cups of brown or white rice
  • any and all vegetables
  • 1 to 2 glasses of 100 percent fruit juice
  • as much water as you can possibly drink

Can I modify my GM diet?

As with any other exercise or wellness plan, you can make some tweaks to your liking. But keep in mind that your mileage may vary if you don’t follow the diet exactly.

  • Add some sprouts or nuts. You can substitute up to 2 ounces of sprouts or 1 ounce of nuts for one of the existing food components on the menu. Or just have them as a snack if you’re really hungry.
  • Make it meatless. You can swap out the beef, chicken, or fish for cottage cheese or brown rice if you’re veg.
  • Skip the dairy. If you’re not a fan of cow’s milk, you can swap it for soy milk.

How does the GM diet stack up against other popular diet plans?

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The GM diet is sometimes billed as a low carb diet (even though it’s not, thanks to all the fruit and the potatoes and the juice). Some people compare it to diets like Atkins or keto, but it’s really in a totally different realm.

The Atkins and keto diets emphasize fat and protein over carbs always, not just on some days. (Like, they’ll never tell you to drink glasses of fruit juice.) They focus more on getting a certain macronutrient ratio than on eating hyperspecific food combinations and keeping your calories ultra-low.

And even though they’re often hard to follow in the long term, they’re touted as eating plans you can follow for life, unlike the 7-day GM diet.

What are the overall pros and cons of the GM diet plan?

The GM diet plan comes with some lofty ambitions, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any benefits to go along with the drawbacks. Let’s have a look at both.

Pros
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That’s a pretty impressive list of perks, right? The thing is, you don’t have to follow the GM diet to reap these benefits. It’s totally possible to establish these habits without following a restrictive crash diet like this one.

Is the GM diet a healthy way to lose weight?

That’s gonna be a “no,” dawg. The GM diet is an ultra-restrictive crash diet, and you should steer clear. Sure, you might lose some weight, but it’ll mostly and come right back when you stop the diet. So it’s definitely not helpful in that department.

On top of that, it’s really not sustainable — maybe not even for a week. Sure, you could probably stick with the weird menu for a day or two. But what happens when you have plans for dinner or get invited to a party? Are you going to bring eight bananas or six tomatoes with you?

Even though the diet emphasizes wholesome foods like fruits, veggies, and lean protein, the restrictive nature could cause you to miss out on a lot of important nutrients. And since it’s so low in calories, it might also leave you feeling sluggish, weak, or cranky. Not fun.

The bottom line

The GM diet plan is a crash diet that might help you lose a little bit of weight. But you’ll probably feel crappy while you’re on it, and the weight will quickly come back once the diet is over.

Seriously, any diet that tells you to eat six tomatoes or eight bananas in one day just isn’t a good idea. Please, please don’t waste your time.

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