The fat smash diet is a 90-day, four-phase weight-loss program that is designed to “smash” bad habits and make permanent lifestyle changes in eating and physical activity.
Dr. Ian Smith, M.D., developed the fat smash diet plan after he became weight-loss consultant and judge for the VH1 hit television program Celebrity Fit Club. The plan was originally designed for celebrities trying to lose weight on the show. Smith’s bestselling book, The Fat Smash Diet: The Last Diet You’ll Ever Need, was published in 2006. In April of 2007 Smith published the Extreme Fat Smash Diet, an alternative program for people wanting to lose weight in a short period of time.
According to Smith, the fat smash diet plan is designed to “rewire” the body and its relationship to food and physical activity. It is based on lifestyle changes that will enable people to maintain their weight once they have achieved their weight-loss goals. The aim of the plan is to eliminate bad habits, while enjoying food without overindulging. The fat smash diet is very flexible and utilizes a wide variety of healthy everyday foods, with the emphasis on whole grains, fresh produce, lean meat, fish, poultry, and healthy fats. Smith’s book includes more than 50 quick and simple recipes. Although the diet does not involve calorie counting, quantities are suggested as a guide for keeping portions small.
The major principles behind the fat smash diet plan are:
- eating 4–5 small meals or large snacks daily, no more than 3–4 hours apart, with the last meal at least one and one-half hours before bedtime
- establishing a regular eating schedule to avoid hunger pangs
- eating small portions—just enough to feel full
- including fresh fruits and vegetables with meals
- eating “good” carbohydrates and avoiding “bad” carbohydrates
- eating foods raw, baked, steamed, or grilled
- a large exercise component, preferably with a partner
- avoidance of stress.
The rules for success on the fat smash diet are:
- not overeating
- always eating fruits and vegetables, regardless of the diet stage
- not eating fried foods
- not skipping meals
- continuing the exercise regimen
- maintaining emotional and mental focus.
Before beginning the fat smash plan dieters are instructed to:
- record their pre-diet weight
- determine their body mass index (BMI)
- take photographs of themselves.
The fat smash diet is constructed as a pyramid, with each of the four phases building on the previous phases:
- Phase 1 is the nine-day detoxification, “detox,” stage to rid the body of impurities.
- Phase 2 is the three-week foundation stage.
- Phase 3 is the four-week construction stage.
- Phase 4 is the lifelong temple stage.
The fat smash diet is designed to allow for mistakes. Dieters who overindulge or eat a prohibited food can return to phase 1 for about a week and then pick up the diet at the phase where they left off.
PHASE 1—DETOXIFICATION. The nine-day natural detoxification stage is not a fasting diet. Rather it is a vegetarian diet consisting primarily of fruits and vegetables, with some dairy and egg whites allowed. There are no absolute restrictions on how much to eat. The diet is designed to rid the body of toxins from processed foods and the environment, including the elimination of caffeine and alcohol, to make it easier to lose weight. Phase 1 includes 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five times per week, with a suggested 20–25 minute walk after dinner to increase the metabolism.
Foods allowed during phase 1 include:
- all fresh fruits in any quantity
- all vegetables in any quantity, except white or red potatoes and avocados; vegetables should be raw or lightly cooked (steamed or grilled)
- one cup daily of fresh-squeezed—not canned—fruit or vegetable juice
- one cup daily of cooked unsweetened oatmeal, grits, farina, or cream of wheat
- up to four egg whites daily
- any dried beans such as lentils or chickpeas
- two cups daily of cooked brown rice
- a maximum of two tablespoons per day of tahini (sesame paste)
- two cups daily of low-fat or nonfat milk or soymilk
- 6 oz. (170 g) of low-fat yogurt, maximum of 12 oz. (340 g) daily
- a maximum of two pickles per day
- 1–2 teaspoons of low-fat virgin olive oil for grilling vegetables
- low-fat dressing, no more than three tablespoons per salad
- herbs and spices
- hot-air popcorn without butter or margarine
- a maximum of two tablespoons per day of artificial sweetener
- two cups daily of unsweetened decaffeinated herbal or green tea
- unlimited water.
Foods prohibited during phase 1 include:
- cheese, including soy cheese
- fried food
- fast food
Canned foods should be rinsed thoroughly to remove excess salt.
Although phase 1 lasts only nine days, dieters can choose to stay with phase 1 for one to two extra weeks or longer.
PHASE 2—THE FOUNDATION. In phase 2 the quantity of food is increased slightly and exercise is increased by 10%–15% over phase 1, to 35 minutes five times per week. Weight lifting and other types of anaerobic exercise are not recommended during phase 2.
Foods added during phase 2 include:
- 3–4 oz. (85–110 g) daily of lean meat, turkey, chicken, or fish (no pork)
- an additional one-half cup of unsweetened hot cereal
- one and one-half cups of unsweetened cold cereal, such as shredded wheat
- one whole egg daily
- 1 oz. (28 g) of cheese
- two teaspoons of peanut butter
- one-half avocado
- up to four teaspoons of sugar or artificial sweetener or one tablespoon of honey per day
- up to two teaspoons of salt per day and unlimited herbs and spices.
PHASE 3—THE CONSTRUCTION. The four-week construction phase requires at least four meals per day. It adds protein and whole grains to the diet, allows for larger portions, and continues ample amounts of fruits and vegetables. Exercise levels are increased by another 25% to 45 minutes daily. Smith recommends exercising twice per day several days per week to boost metabolism.
Phase 3 allows:
- up to 5 oz. (140 g) of meat daily, although seafood remains at 3 oz. (85 g)
- two whole eggs daily
- four thin slices of whole-grain bread daily
- additional brown rice
- one cup of whole-wheat pasta
- up to 16 oz. (475 mL) of fresh-squeezed fruit juice
- up to three cups of skim or soymilk daily
- 1.3 oz. (37 g) of low-fat or fat-free cheese daily
- fat-free mayonnaise
- one daily dessert—one scoop of low-fat ice cream or two to three small chocolate-chip or oatmeal-raisin cookies or graham crackers
- two cans of diet soda daily
- 10 oz. (300 mL) of coffee.
Smith recommends that the phase 1 regimen be followed at least one day a week during phase 3 to expedite weight loss. If weight-loss goals have not been reached by the end of phase 3, phases 1–3 can be repeated as many times as necessary.
PHASE 4—THE TEMPLE. Any and all foods are allowed during the maintenance phase 4 including:
- white starches such as potatoes and white rice in limited amounts
- three glasses of wine or beer per week.
Phase 4 includes one hour of moderate to intense exercise, including weight training, five times per week. If weight is regained, the dieter can return to phase 1 for about a week.
Smith’s extreme fat smash diet is an alternative to the fat smash diet for people who want to lose weight rapidly by raising their metabolism, with a goal of losing up to 12 lb. (5.4 kg) in the first three weeks. He writes: “Extreme fat smash is for people who are determined to reach what they might’ve considered unthinkable success in a weight-loss journey. The idea is simple: if you want big results, then you’ll have to push yourself beyond the normal limits to attain them.”
Like the original fat smash, extreme fat smash utilizes healthy foods and relies on portion control—eating only to satisfy hunger, with the knowledge that another meal or snack will be coming soon. It differs from the fat smash in that it requires organizing the day around meals and exercise:
- The diet is very specific and must be followed exactly.
- Meals and snacks are on a schedule that must be followed exactly.
- Meals are simple but repetitive.
- The diet includes increased fiber and foods with a lower glycemic index (GI) to stabilize blood sugar levels.
- It includes a 40-minute workout with a specific exercise program for conditioning the heart, muscles, and lungs.
The book Extreme Fat Smash Diet includes:
- 75 simple recipes for easily prepared meals
- tips and strategies for sticking to the diet
- a newly designed maintenance plan
- meal plans and corresponding journal pages.
The extreme fat smash diet consists of three one-week cycles:
- The first cycle is a very strict diet with a set menu. Some fruits, such as bananas and pineapples, are prohibited.
- The second cycle adds back some fruit, bread, and peanut butter that were not allowed in the first week.
- The third cycle, although still a strict diet, is more flexible.
At the end of the three weeks, the dieter has the option of repeating the three cycles to lose more weight or of entering the maintenance phase. The same cycle cannot be followed for two weeks in a row.
There is an extensive snack food list that includes:
Unlike the original fat smash, the cycles are adjusted for individual body types, dieting profiles, and weight-loss goals of 5 lb. (2.3 kg), 10 lb. (4.5 kg), or 15 lb. (7 kg) and up. For example, an active person who has healthy eating habits but still cannot lose weight should:
- increase the cardiovascular exercise by 10 minutes on some days
- reduce the carbohydrate option by one-half cup on some days
- consume fewer calories.
The fat smash diet is designed to make small but significant adjustments in food consumption and in attitudes toward food and physical activity. It can be followed easily by vegetarians and vegans as well as meat lovers. It is a diet for people who eat too much junk food and are not used to exercising very much; for people who need to lose anywhere from 50–100 lb. (23–46 kg) or more. It is probably too strict a diet for active people with only a few pounds to lose.
The extreme fat smash diet is for people who want to lose 10–25 lb. (4.5–11 kg) in a healthy manner in a short period of time and to maintain the weight loss.
The fat smash diet is a healthy, well-balanced, and flexible plan. It is a sustainable diet that allows unlimited fruits and vegetables and relies on regular inexpensive foods. Its calorie control, via portion control, and emphasis on exercise should lead to weight loss. Smith claims that people can lose from 6–10 lb. (3–5 kg) during phase 1. He further claims that the fat smash diet:
- detoxifies the body
- promotes rapid weight loss
- teaches sustainable weight-maintenance skills
- reduces the risk of diet-related disease
- leads to a healthier lifestyle.
Portion control is a key to the fat smash diet and Smith claims that even people who eat unhealthy foods can lose 10–15 lb. (5–7 kg) in a year by practicing portion control—eating smaller meals that still satisfy hunger—without making any other changes.
The fat smash diet may be difficult for some people to adhere to, particularly during the nine-day detoxification phase. The weight loss in phase 1 is due to its severe calorie restriction. There is little allowance for occasional indulgences. Eating out is almost impossible during phases 1 and 2. The recipes in the book are sometimes inconsistent, with some phase 1 recipes containing prohibited ingredients.
The extreme fat smash may be too extreme and inflexible for many people.
The fat smash plan is a healthy, well-balanced diet that should have few health risks. The extreme fat smash diet may produce too rapid of a weight loss for some people.
Research and general acceptance
With its emphasis on fruits and vegetables, whole-grain foods, lean meats, portion control, and physical activity, the fat smash diet is considered to be scientifically sound. Tara Gidus of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics told AOL Diet & Fitness: “It helps people eat more low-calorie, nutrient dense foods, exercise more and get rid of unhealthy habits. I love that it encourages so much aerobic exercise.” Although the fat smash detox is relatively moderate, there is no scientific evidence to show a person can detoxify their body through diet.
Most research suggests that slow, gradual, and consistent weight loss is the healthiest way to lose weight and increases the likelihood of maintaining the weight loss.
Although The Fat Smash Diet earned mixed reviews among diet critics, Ian Smith enjoys a high degree of credibility among his audience. He is a Harvard-trained medical doctor and on the board of directors of the American Council on Exercise. Before joining the Celebrity Fit Club, Smith was medical correspondent for the Today show and NBC News. Millions of viewers have watched celebrities lose as much as 41 lb. (19 kg) in a season of Celebrity Fit Club. Thus Smith’s legions of fans have been accepting of his diet plan.
On April 7, 2007, Dr. Ian, as he is commonly called, launched an ongoing “50 Million Pound Challenge.” Aimed primarily at the black community, he called on 5 million people to lose 10 lb. (4.5 kg) each. As of 2012, the program had 1.5 million members and had achieved a collective weight loss of more than 5 million pounds.
Smith, Ian. EAT: The Effortless Weight Loss Solution. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2011.
———. Extreme Fat Smash Diet. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007.
———. The Fat Smash Diet: The Last Diet You’ll Ever Need. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2006.
———. The Take-Control Diet: A Life Plan for Thinking People. New York: Ballantine, 2001, 2005.
“The Diet Channel Interviews VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club Diet Expert Dr. Ian Smith, Author of The Fat Smash Diet.” The Diet Channel. http://www.thedietchannel.com/VH1-Celebrity-Fit-Club-Diet-Expert-Dr-Ian-Smith-Fat-Smash-Diet-Interview.htm (accessed October 2, 2012).
Ian Smith’s official website. http://www.doctoriansmith.com (accessed October 2, 2012).
Jones, H.K. “Fat Smash Diet Review.” HealthCastle.com. http://www.healthcastle.com/review_fat_smash_diet.shtml (accessed October 2, 2012).
Margaret Alic, PhD