The Cookie Diet: How To, Benefits + Downsides

We analyze this dessert-centric weight loss strategy.

The Cookie Diet is a popular weight loss fad diet because the notion that you can eat tasty cookies while losing weight quickly is almost universally appealing, especially if you love sweets and have struggled to acclimate to other healthy, low-calorie diets.

So, what is the Cookie Diet plan exactly, and is it actually good for weight loss? What are the pros and cons of the Cookie Diet for weight loss and health?

In this guide, we will discuss what the Cookie Diet plan involves, the principles behind the Cookie Diet meal plan, how to follow it, and potential benefits and drawbacks.

For those of you with cookie cravings, let’s jump in!

A person eating a cookie.

The original Cookie Diet meal replacement weight loss plan, also called Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet, involves replacing your breakfast and lunch with snacks with nine Dr. Siegal brand cookies daily. 

Then, you have a dinner composed of meat and vegetables, so basically, you are eating diet cookies all day long aside from a low-carb dinner.

The Cookie Diet diet program claims you can lose 11 to 17 pounds (5–7.8 kg) in one month. This works out to 2.75 to 4.5 pounds per week.

The Cookie Diet has been used for nearly 50 years, largely in over 400 medical practices in South Florida, before its availability as an online weight loss program in 2007.

Since then, the cookie weight loss diet has exploded worldwide, appealing to celebrities and everyday individuals alike.

The original plan has been around for 40 years and has had so much commercial success that competitors have created their own Cookie Diet weight loss programs to capitalize on the desirability of eating cookies for weight loss.

A person eating a cookie.

The Cookie Diet was first developed nearly 50 years ago, in 1975, by a former bariatric physician named Dr. Sanford Siegal. 

Dr. Siegal found that many of his patients who are suffering from obesity struggled to lose weight on traditional healthy, low-calorie foods.

To make following a low-calorie weight loss diet more appealing to promote compliance, Dr. Siegal developed special low-calorie cookies in his private bakery that he said would also help control hunger due to a “secret blend“ of amino acids.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and numerous studies have demonstrated the satiating effect of protein relative to carbohydrates and fats.1Paddon-Jones, D., Westman, E., Mattes, R. D., Wolfe, R. R., Astrup, A., & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. (2008). Protein, weight management, and satiety. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition87(5), 1558S1561S. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/87.5.1558s

‌The Dr. Siegal Cookie Diet claims that you can lose 11–17 pounds (5 – 7.8 kg) in one month on the diet.

A person eating a cookie.

This is due to the fact that the specially formulated cookies are low-calorie, and you were supposed to have nine cookies per day and only one meal.

Thus, the Cookie Diet is essentially a caloric restriction diet, much like Nutrisystem, where you consume all prepared foods in carefully controlled servings to limit caloric intake.

The Dr. Siegal Diet variety pack cookies come in several flavours, including chocolate brownie, cinnamon oatmeal, maple pancakes, and butterscotch.

All of the flavors have a similar nutritional profile and are kosher and vegetarian. However, the Dr. Siegal Cookie Diet cookies have gluten and dairy products, so they are not gluten-free or vegan-friendly.

So let’s check out how it works:

There are two phases to the Cookie Diet weight loss plan: a weight loss phase followed by a weight maintenance phase once you’ve reached your goal weight.

Cookies.

#1: Weight Loss Phase

This weight loss phase is based on a principle called the 10x formula, which refers to the fact that you are eating ten times per day.

Here, there is a specific serving and timing of how many cookies you eat daily, which totals nine weight-loss cookies, along with a low-calorie dinner.

The Cookie Diet eating plan is outlined as follows:

  • Breakfast: 2 diet cookies
  • Morning tea: 1 diet cookie
  • Snack: 1 diet cookie
  • Lunch: 2 diet cookies
  • Afternoon tea: 1 diet cookie
  • Snack: 1 diet cookie
  • Dinner: 250 grams (about 8.8 ounces) of lean meat or fish and non-starchy vegetables, which should provide between 500-700 calories.
  • Pre-Bed Snack: 1 diet cookie

You are also supposed to drink plenty of water and take a multivitamin supplement to help prevent nutritional deficiencies and dehydration since the cookies are quite dry, and you’ll get very little fluid intake from food.

A person drinking water.

The Cookie Diet weight loss plan does not recommend exercise as a major component of the program. In fact, heavy exercise is strongly discouraged since you are already in a caloric deficit.

Instead, dieters can perform light exercise, such as walking three times per week for 30 minutes.

In the Cookie Diet plan, you are supposed to eat cookies frequently throughout the day. In fact, according to the Cookie Diet diet rules, you are not supposed to go more than two hours without having one of the weight loss cookies or your dinner meal.

This frequent eating is supposed to help “boost your metabolism“ and curb hunger while losing weight.

#2: Weight Maintenance Phase

Once you have reached your weight loss goals and achieved your ideal body weight, you enter the Cookie Diet weight maintenance phase, intended to be followed indefinitely.

In this phase, you incorporate more real food and scale back how many cookies you are eating per day.

  • Breakfast: High-protein omelet made with eggs and veggies, with berries or some other low-sugar fruit on the side.
  • Snack: 1–2 diet cookies
  • Lunch: 250 grams of lean meat or fish and vegetables like the dinner in the weight loss phase.
  • Snack: 1–2 diet cookies.
  • Dinner: Another 250 grams of lean meat or fish and non-starchy vegetables.
  • Optional bedtime snack: 1 diet cookie if needed

Here again, drinking plenty of water is recommended, along with three 30 to 40-minute workouts per week of moderate intensity.

Cookies.

Overall, the Cookie Diet is not a safe, sustainable, or healthy weight-loss diet.

However, there are a couple of potential Cookie Diet benefits, including the following:

#1: Weight loss

Because the Cookie Diet plan puts the average adult into a significant caloric deficit, you will lose weight.2Weight Loss Depends on Less Calories, Not Nutrient Mix. (2015, May 22). National Institutes of Health (NIH). https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/weight-loss-depends-less-calories-not-nutrient-mix

How many calories are in the cookies used for the Cookie Diet?

‌Each of the Dr. Siegal weight loss cookies has about 53 to 60 calories, and your low-carb dinner should provide between 500 and 700 calories.

How many calories are typically consumed on a Cookie Diet plan?

This brings the total daily caloric intake to 977-1240 calories daily. This represents a significant caloric deficit for most people.

A plate of cookies.

#2: Convenience

Any weight loss plan with prepackaged, prepared weight loss foods reduces the need to shop, prep, and cook healthy meals. You can eat the Dr. Siegal Cookies on the go and save time.

#3: Easy to Follow

The Cookie Diet meal plan is easy to follow.

You don’t have to count calories and there is a very structured routine that doesn’t change until you move into the weight maintenance phase.

#4: Appealing

Most people are drawn to the Cookie Diet for weight loss because eating cookies is appealing, which may help you stick with the program if you enjoy the taste, experience weight loss benefits, and find it easy to follow.

Cookies.

However, despite the potential benefits of the Cookie Diet plan for weight loss, there are many inherent problems with the Cookie Diet.

Although it certainly sounds appealing to eat cookies for weight loss, the Cookie Diet plan is one of the worst weight loss plans for sustainable, safe, and healthy weight loss.

If you are looking for a healthy lifestyle diet to follow, check out our guide to the Mediterranean Diet here.

A variety of healthy foods.

References

Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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