Cheese and bean burrito

Instinct Diet

02 May 2011

The one with the five food instinct counter-plan

CELEBRITY FANS: None known at this time

WHAT’S INVOLVED:  It’s based around five food instincts that usually lead to weight-gain:

  • Hunger - often we eat when we think we’re hungry but are in fact dehydrated
  • Availability - eating because food is there
  • Calorie density - the foods we often crave are the ones with the most calories
  • Familiarity - emotional eating for comfort
  • Variety - just think of a brunch buffet, we eat more when we have variety.

The diet allows you to recognise your instincts and thus learn how to control them, while following the specific meal plans.

The diet is broken down into stages. Stage one prepares you with hunger-suppressing foods. This lasts two weeks. Stage two introduces more foods to the diet but simultaneously teaches good eating habits. This lasts six weeks. Stage three is about learning the key skills that help you maintain the control over your instincts.

Meal plans and calorie allowances vary according to your weight. Those weighing less than 160lbs are allowed 1,200 per day. Those weighing between 160 to 200lbs can have 1,600. People above 200lbs are on a 1,800-calorie plan.


  • One of the many Instinct Diet books, which will help you follow diets according to you size and personal instincts
  • A calorie-counter to help when planning your meals

VERDICT: By learning about your eating instincts you can exert greater control over your willpower. Kim Edens, a clinical nutrition researcher for the Mayo Clinic, says of the diet, “Choosing filling foods, eating almost any food in moderation, [and] becoming more aware of cravings and food triggers, along with many of the other strategies, can be very beneficial to anyone who wants to lose weight.”

Ryan Penny, Clinical Nutritionist and Conditioning Coach for The Wellness Brothers, also offers his advice:What’s missing from most diet plans is frankly the most critical part of weight-loss success: the appropriate mindset and a good understanding of how things work. This diet plan highlights some of the significant aspects related to overeating and offers ways to address them. In addition it provides a variety of eating plans and is generally a really good approach to losing weight successfully and sustainably. It’s maybe a little bit too structured, if that can be a criticism, as this might make it a little difficult for some people to get going. On the other hand, this may well be what other people really want.

The best part of this plan is that it gets you thinking, which is the exact opposite of why most people gain weight in the first place. The shift from mindless to mindful eating is its greatest strength. Slow, steady and sustainable weight loss is the likely outcome when this well-researched approach is used. I think it deserves the thumbs up!”