Book Review: Super Shred

Super Shred: The Big Results Diet
By Ian K. Smith, M.D.
St. Martin’s Press (2013)
Reviewed by Holly R. Layer, RD


Dr. Ian K. Smith comes right out and tells readers that his Super Shred diet “is not meant for the long term.” He calls Super Shed ‘destination dieting,’ designed to help readers lose weight before an upcoming event, such as a reunion or wedding only four weeks away. In a previous book, Dr. Smith outlined his ‘Shred: The Revolutionary Diet,’ which is a six-week plan designed to be followed for the long term. He claims participants can lose up to 5 pounds a week, resulting in a 20-pound loss in four weeks. Dr. Smith employs three strategies to accomplish this rapid weight loss: negative energy balance, calorie disruption and sliding nutrient density.

Synopsis of Diet Plan:

The Super Shred program is four weeks in duration, and each week has a different ‘timeline’ of when to eat each day, and each day’s meal choices are outlined page-by-page. Dr. Smith recommends real, whole foods and puts almost nothing off-limits. He recommends drinking one cup of water before meals, starting the day with tea, limiting alcohol to three drinks a week and caffeine to two cups of coffee per day. Each week has separate guidelines, with week three being the most difficult. By changing meal times and sizes, Dr. Smith aims to rev up a participants metabolism in order to burn more fat. One day per week is devoted to calorie disruption, in which the calories consumed that day are significantly less than other days.

Dr. Smith suggests multiple meal options for every meal and snack during each day, such as a fruit smoothie, a protein smoothie, soup or small salad. He also gives calorie recommendations for meals and snacks, such as a 200-calorie ‘meal’ or a 100 calorie ‘snack.’

Nutritional Pros and Cons:

While Dr. Smith’s detailed plan offers lots of flexibility and encourages a variety of healthy food choices, dieters trying to ‘keep it simple’ or picky eaters may end up eating many of the same items, which could lead to boredom or a lack of specific nutrients. Because every day of every week is different, some readers may give up soon after starting, but others may like the meal plan and included grocery list. Dr. Smith encourages adding exercise for health and to help create ‘negative energy balance.’ He also introduces readers to ‘intermittent fasting’ one day a week, which can be an effective tool for weight management but may be too ambitious for most readers. His list of snacks by calorie-count (100 and 150) are extensive and can help dieters learn approximate calorie counts for common items, which may be beneficial down the road. Lastly, this plan doesn’t transition readers back to a more ‘normal’ eating pattern, nor is it designed to or should be used long-term, and therefore the chances of regaining lost weight are high.

Bottom Line:

Super Shred is simply a very detailed eating plan that puts dieters into a calorie deficit for four weeks in order to jump-start weight loss. When used as recommended, the diet plan can help those trying to lose weight see faster results and gain motivation to continue. The always-changing eating plan may be too much for some readers, but could appeal to those who like structure. In fact, it may very well be the detailed nature of the plan that keeps dieters from focusing on how few calories they are consuming. Conveniently, each day and week is written out separately; no flipping back-and-forth. Dr. Smith repeatedly tells readers that this plan is not designed for long-term use, and also recommends incorporating physical activity and increasing water intake.

The book contains approximately 50 pages of recipes for snacks, smoothies and soups.

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