The Dr. Nowzaradan Diet: Our Expert Nutritionist Weighs In

If you have ever seen the TV show on TLC called“My 600-Lb. Life,” you may be familiar with Dr. Nowzaradan—also known as Dr. Now.

Dr. Now is known for his no-nonsense approach to weight loss as he helps people with morbid obesity try to lose weight and/or prepare for bariatric surgery, which is weight-loss surgery.

One of the main components of his weight loss program is the Dr. Nowzaradan Diet plan, more commonly referred to as the Dr. Now Diet.

In this guide, we will discuss what the Dr. Nowzaradan Diet meal plan entails, who should follow the Dr. Now Diet weight loss plan, and sample Dr. Now Diet plan food lists so that you can build a Dr. Now Diet meal plan based on your preferences.

We will look at: 

  • What Is the Dr. Nowzaradan Diet?
  • How Do You Follow the Dr. Now Diet Plan?
  • What Can You Eat On the Dr. Now Diet Plan?

Let’s get started!

A nutrionist holding up a diet plan.

What Is the Dr. Nowzaradan Diet?

The Dr. Nowzaradan Diet Plan, more commonly referred to as the Dr. Now Diet Plan or Dr. Now Weight Loss Diet Program, is a weight loss diet that was created by Houston-based bariatric surgeon Dr. Nowzaradan, who works with patients with obesity and morbid obesity.

The Dr. Nowzaradan Diet for weight loss is fashioned after the diet program Dr. Nowzaradan uses to prepare his patients for weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery diet).

As such, the Dr. Nowzaradan Diet is very restrictive and very low in calories.

It is intended for people who are preparing for weight loss surgery or who have been diagnosed with morbid obesity (typically a body mass index of 30-35 kg/m2 or above) or are at risk for serious health problems due to high BMI or body weight.

For these reasons, the Dr. Now weight loss diet should only be followed under the direct supervision of a medical team or nutrition professional, as it does not provide enough calories and nutrients for most individuals and is too restrictive to be healthy and sustainable as a general weight loss diet plan.

A doctor holding a sign that says obesity.

Dr. Now is well known because he appears on the TV show “My 600 Pound Life,” which follows patients with extreme obesity.

He has built a reputation for treating patients that many other surgeons believe are too risky to undergo bariatric surgery or any operation given their body weight and/or comorbidities with obesity.

The Dr. Nowzaradan Diet is essentially a weight loss surgery diet that is very low calorie and low carb in order to support rapid weight loss.

How Do You Follow the Dr. Now Diet Plan?

The strict Dr. Now diet plan was first popularized or brought to the mainstream when Dr. Now published his book, “The Scale Does Not Lie, People Do.”

This book explains how to follow the Dr. Nowzaradan Diet, which essentially has three main principles that together form the acronym “FAT” for frequency, amount, and type.

Here is how to follow the Dr. Now diet meal plan:

A plate with the words low calories written on it.

Frequency

You can only eat two or three meals per day with no snacks, so this is the “frequency“ of eating on the Dr. Nowzaradan Diet.

Amount

The Dr. Now weight loss meal plan is capped at 1200 calories or less per day, which you are supposed to divide evenly between your Dr. Now diet meals.

Therefore, if you follow the Dr. Now menu plan with three meals a day, each meal can have no more than 400 calories, and if you follow a Dr. Now diet meal plan with two meals a day, each meal can have no more than 600 calories. 

This is the “Amount” of calories on the Dr. Now Diet Program. When considering “amount,“ Dr. Now diet tips suggest focusing on reducing portion sizes to help control calories.

Green vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Type

The “type“ refers to the types of foods you can eat on the Dr. Nowzaradan Diet.

The list of Dr. Now diet foods excludes all sugar and minimizes processed foods as much as possible. Instead, the Dr. Nowzaradan Diet food list focuses on low-fat foods, low-carb foods, and high-protein, high-fiber foods. 

The reason that the emphasis on the Dr. Now diet foods is on those that are high in protein and fiber is that these nutrients improve satiety to keep you full, while sugar, fat, and high-calorie foods lead to weight gain.

What’s interesting about the Dr. Now diet food list is that there isn’t a single universal list of Dr. Now diet foods that you have to eat. 

Rather, Dr. Now suggests that you make a list of all of your favorite foods and then systematically cross off any of those that include a lot of sugar, fat, or calories.

Then, you are left with foods you can eat on the Dr. Now diet that you actually like, which is supposed to help you stick to the diet without feeling deprived of your favorite foods or forced to eat foods you hate.

Lean meats and grains.

What Can You Eat On the Dr. Now Diet Plan?

As mentioned, the Dr. Now diet meal plan focuses on foods that are low fat, high protein, high fiber, nutrient-dense but low-calorie, and natural (not processed).

However, while you are supposed to minimize processed foods, sugar-free sweeteners and artificial sweeteners like Stevia are allowed since all sugar should be eliminated from your Dr. Now weight loss food list.

Here are the foods to eat on the Dr. Nowzaradan Diet:

  • Lean proteins: chicken breast, turkey breast, egg whites, very lean cuts of beef or pork, tofu, fish, scallops, etc.
  • Vegetables: all vegetables except starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes, with an emphasis on leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, and non-starchy vegetables like peppers and zucchini
  • Legumes
  • Fruit: The Dr. Now diet plan food list allows for some fruits as long as they are low in sugar, such as berries, citrus, and stone fruits. Fruits must be whole rather than processed (for example, apples instead of applesauce or fresh pears instead of canned fruit cocktail). Mango, bananas, cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple, and high-sugar fruits must be avoided.
  • Nonfat dairy: plain nonfat Greek yogurt or plain nonfat yogurt and skim milk
  • Fats and oils: The Dr. Now diet menu is designed to be low fat, so fat in oils must be limited significantly; cooking spray and minimal amounts of healthy oils like extra-virgin olive oil and avocado oil are allowed sparingly.
  • Whole grains: whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and whole wheat tortillas or corn tortillas are allowed in moderation.
  • Flax seeds and Chia seeds, but no other nuts or seeds due to the calories and fat
  • Zero-calorie sweeteners such as Stevia and Monk fruit sweeteners
  • Unsweetened beverages such as tea, herbal tea, black coffee, water, seltzer water
  • Condiments like vinegar, lemon juice, and pickles, but no high-calorie condiments with fat or sugar, etc.

As can be seen, the Dr. Now diet food list is relatively clean and may be quite restrictive relative to your current diet, depending on what you eat.

A person taking a bite of a salad.

Here are the foods to avoid on the Dr. Now weight loss diet plan:

  • Proteins: fatty cuts of meat, and any processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, or sausage, battered and fried meat like fried chicken, whole eggs with the yolk, sugary protein shakes, or even protein shakes with bananas since you cannot have bananas on this weight loss diet
  • Potatoes and starchy vegetables (especially in processed forms like French fries, home fries, potato chips)
  • Nuts and seeds: all nuts and seeds and nut butter (such as almonds, peanuts, peanut butter, pecans, walnuts, and sunflower seeds), except flaxseeds and chia seeds
  • Fats and oils: Butter, olive oil, any vegetable oil, margarine, etc.
  • Sugary fruits and processed fruits: Bananas, watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, tropical fruits, jelly, fruit juices, canned fruit, sweetened dried fruit, fruit snacks, popsicles, etc.
  • Full-fat dairy and sweetened dairy: Milk (except for skim milk), cheese or any kind, ice cream, butter, yogurts with added sugar (even nonfat Greek yogurt with added sugars), cottage cheese unless it is nonfat 
  • Refined carbs and snacks: White rice, white bread, white tortillas, couscous, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, waffles and pancakes, crackers, chips, popcorn, pretzels, pasta except whole wheat pasta sparingly
  • Sweets: Cookies, cakes, candy, pastries, cakes, pies, honey, sugar, energy gels, granola bars 
  • Sweetened beverages: Soda, juice, energy drinks, sweetened coffee, sugar added to tea or coffee, chocolate milk, milk other than skim milk
An overweight patient meeting with a doctor.

This list of Dr. Now foods to avoid includes mostly unhealthy foods that you’d expect on a healthy weight loss diet, but also certain foods that are often seen as healthy but Dr. Now says aren’t good for weight loss.

For example, he says that oatmeal and potatoes are high in carbs, popcorn is often doused in butter and fat, and nuts and peanuts are high in calories and easy to overeat.

Overall, the Dr. Now Diet plan has some positive attributes in that it eliminates all processed food, sugar, alcohol, refined grains, fast food, high-sodium foods, fried foods, and foods with artificial sweeteners and chemicals.

These foods are bad for your health, and can be addictive, increase appetite and cravings, cause water retention, and promote fat storage.

However, the plan does not provide enough calories for most people, according to the USDA.

Remember, because the Dr. Now weight loss diet plan is designed to be a rapid weight loss program leading up to bariatric surgery, it is only supposed to be followed for a short period of time, generally one or two months at most, and only under the supervision of a medical provider.

If you are looking for a more sustainable and less agressive weight loss diet, take a look at our intermittent fasting guide here.

A notebook with the words intermittent fasting on it.
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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