The Truth About The Beverly Hills Diet

With an endless number of plans, pills, and promises, the diet industry in America is booming. As of 2019, the market was worth a massive $72 billion (via APNews). Doctors, dieticians, celebrity chefs, and fitness enthusiasts have put their personal spin on the best way to lose weight, whether in the form of a guide, video series, or pre-cooked meal plan.

Some popular plans, however, were not formulated by experts, but by ordinary people, like Judy Mazel. It is reported that during her recovery from a broken leg, Mazel began reading health books and working with a nutritionist in New Mexico. After coming up with a theory on how enzymes can assist with weight loss, Mazel decided to experiment on herself and claimed to have lost 72 pounds (via Chicago Tribune). 

In 1981, she penned the best-seller "The Beverly Hills Diet." Celebrities like Linda Gray and Maria Shriver sang praises over the plan, but the popular diet received backlash from the medical community (via Chicago tribune).

The plan is fruit focused

Mazel claimed that by eating a mostly fruit-based diet for 35 days, one could retrain the digestive system (via WebMD). The author also suggested that by following specific rules on combining carbohydrates, fat, and protein, the average person could lose up to 15 pounds in five weeks and continue to drop weight until "skinny."

While the plan allows a select few days of protein, fruit is the main food source in the first stage of the plan; for example, day 17 calls for watermelon only. After stage one, Mazel prompts followers to utilize the four "conscious combining" principles, the first one being on fruit, stating that high enzyme fruit such as a prune or papaya should be eaten in the morning, and fruit should always be eaten alone.

The second principle allows protein to be eaten with fat, but not carbs, and after your first protein food, 80% of your intake for the remainder of the day should be protein. The third principle states that carbs and fats can be combined, but not carbs and proteins. And finally, the alcohol principle, which states, beer and hard liquors are to be treated as carbohydrates, while red and white wine should be treated as fruit, and champagne is "neutral" so it can be consumed with any meal (per WebMD).

Experts are not impressed with the plan

According to Winchester Hospital, there is no medical or scientific evidence to support The Beverly Hills Diet. The theory that undigested food causes weight gain is false, as undigested food does not provide calories. Furthermore, there is no known research supporting the idea that combining certain foods inhibits digestion.

While this diet can be adjusted to those who are vegan, gluten free, or who prefer low-fat foods, the plan is highly restrictive and puts the follower in an extreme calorie deficit, which is what actually accounts for the weight loss. Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD told WebMD that because the plan doesn't include all the essential nutrients the body needs, particularly during phase one, it can be challenging to stay on it. She also reports that this diet does not support any known health conditions. 

The Chicago Tribune reports that the medical community was outraged by Mazel's claims, stating the book contained "major misstatements of scientific fact." Mazel did go on, despite the criticism, to write a revision to her best seller, "The New Beverly Hills Diet," in 1996, and a book for children with pediatrician John Monaco in 1999, "Slim & Fit Kids: Raising Healthy Children in a Fast-Food World." The Chicago Tribune reported that Mazel died in 2007, age 63, from complications from peripheral vascular disease.

Before beginning any new diet, it's always wise to consult with a doctor.