The Metabolism Miracle

If you like buying books on slimming, then The Metabolism Miracle by Diane Kress may well provide you with an interesting read, says DietDoc.

The Metabolism Miracle by Diane Kress, is the third book on popular slimming diets and regimens that I was asked to review. Hailed as a "New York Times Bestseller" , it promises "3 easy steps to regain control of your weight .... permanently". Although I am by now rather tired of reading such accolades, I started this book with optimism because Diane Kress is a registered dietician who has been in practice in the USA for more than twenty-five years.

The Metabolism B theory

According to Diane Kress, her long years of treating overweight patients led her to formulate a theory to explain why some patients lose weight successfully and others don’t. She postulates that there are two types of people, those with Metabolism A and those with Metabolism B.

Individuals blessed with Metabolism A, can usually eat as much as they want of all the many foods available in modern society without gaining weight and if they do gain a bit of weight, they can shed it effortlessly by reducing their energy intake and/or increasing their energy expenditure with exercise. Most standard weight loss diets will work for the lucky people who have an A-type metabolism.

People who have been burdened with Metabolism B, constantly struggle to lose weight, are prone to develop obesity, do not react well to standard slimming diets, regain all the weight they have lost when they return to eating a "normal" diet and suffer from insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. The Metabolism Miracle by Diane Kress is designed to help all patients with B-type metabolism to lose weight and keep it off permanently. With the weightloss promised by this diet regimen, all the attendant ills associated with obesity and the metabolic syndrome such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and arthritis will be alleviated or improved (Kress, 2009)

The 3 easy steps

Ms Kress divides her weight loss regimen into 3 easy steps:

Step 1 - Carb rehab: eight weeks to a new life

In similar fashion to the other 2 books I reviewed recently (The Dukan Diet and The Cura Romana Weight Loss Plan), Ms Kress recommends an 8-week high-protein, low-carb detox period to allow the pancreas (which produces insulin) and the liver to rest and rejuvenate themselves. The author does state that "A very-low-carb diet is not nutritionally balanced but, as a temporary choice to reset a healthy metabolism, it works well by deliberately leaving the pancreas and liver in a state of rest". (Kress, 2009).

During this period, slimmers with Metabolism B need to cut out most carbs, and concentrate on eating lean protein foods. Permitted carbs may only contain 5 gram of total carbohydrates per serving and only 5 such servings are allowed per day each time food is consumed (the 5 x 5 rule). Patients are also encouraged to drink plenty of water, eat every 5 hours (a variation of the "nibbling diet"), take vitamin and mineral supplements, do physical exercise, deep breathing, relaxing exercises and to apply the principles of positive thinking.

The purpose of Step 1 is to "re-programme your metabolism" (Kress, 2009).

Step 2 - Transition: A healthy path to carbs

In the second 8-week period of The Metabolism Miracle regimen, patients are instructed to reintroduce healthy carbs to the diet in "the proper amount and at the right time" (Kress, 2009). Ms Kress now suggests that carbohydrate intake may be increased to between 11 and 20 gram per serving. However, the author emphasises that it is vital that slimmers should eat these carbs at certain times of the day because "Timing is everything"(Kress, 2009): before exercising prior to breakfast; with breakfast, lunch and supper; at snacks between meals; immediately before going to bed at night; during the night if you should wake up.

Diane Kress provides a list of so-called "Low-Impact Carbs" which should be used during Step 2. Such carbs include low-carb or high-fibre breads, cereals, grains, crackers and foods like popcorn, some vegetables and legumes, certain fruits and some milk and dairy products. All the other aspects of Step 1 (exercise, water, relaxing, deep breathing and positive thinking) are also included.

The purpose of Step 2 is for slimmers to reach their goal weight (Kress, 2009).

Step 3 - Keeping weight off for a lifetime

The third step entails lifetime weight maintenance. Ms Kress emphasises that Step 3 "should last a lifetime" (Kress, 2009). Patients who have rested their "weary metabolism" in Step 1 and "Reprogrammed their rested metabolism" in Step 2, now have to maintain their weight, health and energy by identifying the carbohydrate range that works best for their bodies (Kress, 2009). The selection of carbs that is allowed, is expanded to permit 30 to 35% of the daily energy intake to be derived from carbs. "Occasional treats" are allowed in small quantities.

In other words, The Metabolism Miracle regimen does permit the inclusion of moderate quantities of high-fibre carbohydrates for the rest of a patient’s life and is thus not as stringently anti-carb as the Cura Romana Weightloss Plan by Leslie Kenton (Kenton, 2011) or the Dukan Diet by Dr Pierre Dukan (Dukan, 2010), which I reviewed previously.

Positives and negatives

The Metabolism Miracle by Diane Kress has the advantage that it does not ban all carbohydrate foods even during Step 1, and that it does allow slimmers to eventually eat high-fibre, low-glycaemic index carbohydrates in moderate quantities for the rest of their lives. But it is still basically a variation of a modified Atkins diet.

The emphasis on exercise and life-enhancing practices such as relaxation and deep breathing are positive aspects of the regimen.

I do, however, envisage that problems may arise when South Africans try to apply the principles of The Metabolism Miracle. For example, many products mentioned in the book  may not be available in South Africa. Food manufacturers in the USA have been producing low-carb breads, crackers, tacos, wraps, and ice-cream (to name, but a few) for many years in response to Atkins-type diets. The Metabolism Miracle also supposes that all foods available in supermarkets have an American-style nutritional label to make it possible for shoppers to tell at a glance if a food contains either 5 g or 11-20 g of carbs per serving. Although we have made great strides in food labelling, not all our foods display labels which will make this type of calculation easy or possible. Even when the new SA labelling regulations become mandatory in March 2012, it will not be compulsory for food manufacturers to display the nutritional composition of their products on their labels. If the label on a carbohydrate-containing food does not state the total carbohydrate and the dietary fibre contents per serving, then purchasers will not be able to calculate its carbohydrate content as explained by Ms Kress. I can, therefore, imagine that South Africans may find it difficult to apply the principles of Diane Kress’ Metabolism Miracle.

It is also not a given that individuals with so-called Metabolism B will adhere to the spacing of meals and snacks at 5-hour intervals, or be able to maintain the suggested low carbohydrate intake (30-35% of energy) for the rest of their lives. But if you like buying books on slimming, then The Metabolism Miracle by Diane Kress may well provide you with an interesting read.

- (Dr IV van Heerden, DietDoc, May 2011) 


(Dukan, P (2010). The Dukan Diet. Hodder & Stoughton, UK; Kenton L (2011). The Cura Romana Weightloss Plan. Bantam, Press, London; Kress D (2009). The Metabolism Miracle. Da Capo Press, Philadelphia, USA.)

Any questions? Ask DietDoc
Read more:

The carbohydrate debate
The metabolic syndrome

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