SHRED Diet Guide: How To, Benefits + Drawbacks

We evaluate the accelerated weight loss plan to get "shredded".

If you are into bodybuilding, when you hear the term “SHRED diet,” you probably think about the cutting phase diet plan that you follow to lean out before a competition or in order to get “shredded.“

When discussing physique, “getting shredded“ generally refers to losing body fat so that muscle definition appears more prominent.

While the SHRED diet plan is a specific weight loss diet plan rather than a generalized calorie restriction diet for bodybuilders, many of the same concepts of fat loss used by bodybuilders are seen in the six-week SHRED diet plan.

In this SHRED diet nutrition guide, we will discuss the SHRED diet plan’s general guidelines, what you can and cannot eat, and potential benefits and drawbacks.

Let’s jump in!

A person flexing their bicep.

How Do You Follow the Shred Diet Plan?

The SHRED diet plan is a six-week weight loss program developed by Dr. Ian Smith that promises you can lose 4 inches and 2 sizes or 20 pounds.

You can follow the SHRED diet for more than six weeks, but it is set up in six-week cycles (and many people just do the SHRED program for one 6-week cycle).

The recommendation is that if you still have more weight to lose after you have done the SHRED diet plan for six weeks, you are supposed to continue running through the 6 weeks of the SHRED weight loss diet until you have reached your ideal body weight.

What is unique about subsequent cycles is that you do not have to start at the beginning. You can re-order the SHRED diet program phases in any way you see fit or that works best for you.

However, you are supposed to do all of the six SHRED diet phases no matter what order you do them in. 

Remember that if you are only doing the SHRED six-week diet plan once through, you are supposed to follow it in the specific order that the program is laid out.

A monthly calendar and a pencil.

Whether you only do the SHRED diet one time and then reach your ideal body weight, or you continue cycling through until you have reached your ideal body weight, for long-term maintenance, you are supposed to choose one of the SHRED week agendas each month and implement it religiously during that week.

This is thought to be a checks and balances program to help you maintain your weight loss, stay focused on healthy eating principles, and not go on autopilot with how you are eating.

Many people regain a lot of weight that they have lost, particularly on a crash diet, so this is a built-in system unique to the SHRED weight loss diet plan to help circumvent this common problem.1MacLean, P. S., Bergouignan, A., Cornier, M.-A., & Jackman, M. R. (2011). Biology’s response to dieting: the impetus for weight regain. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology301(3), R581–R600. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.00755.2010

‌If you are able to maintain your weight loss for six months after completing the SHRED diet plan all along with the once-a-month single-week maintenance SHRED weeks, you can reduce the frequency of these weekly SHRED diet program weeks to once every two months instead of once every month.

The SHRED diet program is fairly complicated to follow.

There are general guidelines that need to be followed throughout each of the six weeks of the diet cycle, and then there are specific agendas or focuses for each week.

Here is the general outline of the SHRED weight loss diet program:

An hourly schedule.

SHRED Diet General Guidelines

The general guidelines of the SHRED program to be followed in all phases are as follows:

  1. Eat to satiety, but never stuff yourself so that you feel truly full.
  2. Even if you are not hungry, eat something every 3 to 4 hours. Note that you do not need to eat all of the snacks if you are not hungry, though you can. However, you do need to eat at all of the meal times even if you are not hungry. In those cases, just have a very small meal with SHRED diet foods for the given week that you are on.
  3. The recommended SHRED diet meal spacing schedule is as follows:
  • Meal 1: 8:30 AM
  • Snack 1: 10 AM
  • Meal 2: 11:30 AM
  • Snack 2: 1 PM
  • Meal 3: 3:30 PM
  • Meal 4: 7 PM
  • Snack 3: 8:30 PM (no more than 100 calories)
  1. The bedtime snack should be no more than 100 calories, and the final meal of the day aside from this snack should be consumed at least 90 minutes before you go to bed.
  2. You cannot eat outside of the designated meals or snack times.
  3. You cannot have two of the same meal or SHRED diet recipes on the same day; you have to have different foods for each meal.
  4. You have to adhere to the specified portions and serving sizes.
  5. For all SHRED diet liquid meals, you are allowed to have two saltine crackers with your soups.
  6. Water consumption is important and structured. You must have one cup of water before every meal as well as one cup of water during every meal. You can add a squeeze of lemon or lime. You can also substitute flat water for carbonated water. You can have flavored water as long as the flavored water is under 60 calories for a full 8-ounce serving. That said, plain water is prioritized.
Fresh fruits and vegetables.

What Can You Eat On the SHRED Diet Plan?

Here are the guidelines for the types of SHRED diet foods and the expectations for what you can eat on the SHRED diet meal plan:


Fresh or frozen is preferred. If you choose canned vegetables, look for low-sodium versions. A serving of vegetables is the size of your closed fist.


Fresh or frozen fruits are preferred. Limit canned fruits or fruits with added sugar, such as sweetened dried fruit. A serving size is the size of your closed fist.


Certain lean proteins are found on the SHRED diet plan food list for each week on a structured and somewhat rotating basis.

Chicken and turkey must be consumed without the skin. You cannot have whole eggs with the yolk. You can only eat egg whites, and a maximum of two egg whites per day is permitted.

A bowl of oatmeal.


The SHRED meal plan limits carbohydrates, though some weeks have a little bit more latitude. The main carbs found on the SHRED weight loss meal plan include sweet potatoes, oatmeal, beans, and unsweetened cereal.


You can enjoy spices and herbs with no limitations.


You may have no more than one cup of coffee daily, and it must be under 50 calories, so no fancy coffee drinks.

You may not drink regular soda and may only have one can of diet soda per day.

Other Guidelines

You cannot eat fried food and must limit the intake of junk food like chips and popcorn. You cannot have desserts on the SHRED meal plan.

All dairy must be fat-free or low-fat.

Any soups must be low in sodium and cannot contain potatoes or cream.

Limit the serving size of condiments like ketchup to no more than 1 teaspoon at a meal.

Aside from these general guidelines, each week of the SHRED weight loss diet program has very specific foods that you can and cannot eat, along with serving sizes.

Full information about how to follow each week can be found in Shred: The Revolutionary Diet: 6 Weeks 4 Inches 2 Sizes.

A person flexing.

Is the SHRED Diet Good for Weight Loss and Health?

Overall, there are some pros and cons of the SHRED diet program.

SHRED Diet Benefits

  • Emphasis on educating and setting up healthy behaviors for long-term weight maintenance.
  • Taking a singular focus each week provides much structure and guidance without potentially being too overwhelming.
  • Generally encourages healthy eating practices such as reducing the consumption of processed foods, fried foods, salty foods, sweetened beverages, etc., while drinking plenty of water and eating fruits and veggies.
  • Teaches portion control by having you stop eating before you are full.
  • Eating so frequently can appeal to people who like to eat smaller meals throughout the day.
  • Monthly maintenance weeks can help you maintain your weight loss.
A person measuring their waist.

There are also several downsides of the SHRED program for weight loss and health, including the following.

  • Overly restrictive and removes some healthy foods.
  • Very difficult to follow and complicated.
  • The frequency of meals and snacks may be overwhelming for some people.
  • Having to eat a meal when you are not hungry can teach you not to listen to your body‘s hunger cues and goes against the practices of intuitive eating.
  • Can be triggering or unsafe for people with a history of eating disorders.
  • Portions may not be enough for some people.
  • Not all foods on the SHRED meal plan are healthy; there are healthier options, some specifically excluded from the SHRED food list.
  • Many of the SHRED diet claims are not actually backed by science, and the rate of promised weight loss is too aggressive. This may lead people to believe they are following something that will give them unsubstantiated health benefits.

When choosing a healthy diet that’s right for you and your nutritional needs, it’s always best to meet with a registered dietician or nutritionist for guidance to get your very best results.

A nutritionist.


  • 1
    MacLean, P. S., Bergouignan, A., Cornier, M.-A., & Jackman, M. R. (2011). Biology’s response to dieting: the impetus for weight regain. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology301(3), R581–R600. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.00755.2010
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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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