Carbohydrate Addicts Diet

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

carbohydrate-addict-dietThe Carbohydrate Addicts diet was written in 1993 by authors Rachel Heller MD, and Richard Heller MD. The success of the book has led to a number of follow-up books, many of which have been on bestseller lists.

The premise behind the Carbohydrate Addicts Diet (CAD) is that most overweight people are addicted to carbohydrates. The Hellers’ claim that most people fail to metabolize carbohydrates correctly, causing an imbalance of insulin levels. The elevated insulin levels cause a craving for food throughout the day.

Addiction to Carbohydrates?

Over the last few decades, refined sugars have played an increasing role in our diets. Authorities have esposed a low-fat diet – which has inadvertently lead to people eating far more carbohydrate than is necessary (given our generally sedentary lifestyles). It should be no surprise that many people have become accustomed to highly sweetened foods. Whether this qualifies as an addiction is up for debate.

Carbohydrate Addicts Eating Plan

At its foundation is a reduction of carbohydrate intake. The rules are strict, with the diet providing a long list of foods, that are on the “allowed” list. Anything not in this list must be avoided.

Each day is split into 2 main meals – 2 meals are made up of a protein source (fish, poultry, lean red meat) and fibrous vegetables. The 3rd meal is called the “reward” meal – this can be anything you want, but you should aim for a balance of 1/3 carbohydrate, 1/3 protein, and 1/3 fibrous (non-starchy vegetables). This reward meal must be consumed inside 1 hour.

The diet begins with a restricted 2 week phase, but then goes into a variety of eating plans – depending on whether you are maintaining or losing more weight.

Click here to purchase this diet for a discounted price.

Sensible or Not?

The book does start with a set of questions to determine whether you are a “Carbohydrate Addict”. The questions will deteremine whether the diet is appropriate for you.

Research over the last 5 years has shown considerable health benefits arising from moderating carbohydrate intake. However many find such diets difficult to sustain over the long term – much of our social eating patterns are based around carbohydrate foods.

Many people have found success with this plan (as with many low-carbohydrate approaches). Proteins and fats often lead to a greater feeling of fullness – leading the dieter to consume less energy as compared with a high carbohydrate diet.

Generally, we do eat too much processed carbohydrate (white flours, bakery foods, white rice and pasta, etc). This must surely be a contributor to obesity problems – but does not mean that all carbs are the enemy.

See Also

Carbohydrate Addicts – Carbohydrate Addicts official home page.

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
  • andros

    ive been having a tablespoon of almond butter and glass of water after for breakfast and for lunch and a balanced meal in the evening ,just something a bit different if you gotl fed up of eggs and to much meat,

  • Hanz

    buy loads of the following- go to a big wasuhoere store and buy in bulk:1)tofu- very very good protein, no animal flesh, only plant protein and it digests easily, but the baked tofu if you can find it- may have to go to a chinese supermarket- its chewier and much more tasty than the horrible stuff in those cold wet blocks in plastic in the fridge aisle.Tofu is one of the best things you can eat, hands down. No carbThe resudie it leaves in your body is fantastic- pure sustainalbe plant goodness.2) can’s of tuna, or salmon, or both- any fish, especially canned- lots of iron and metals, makes your blood strong, fortifies you inside. Has low cholesterol. No carb3) canned beans, like kidney, chickpea, lima beans. Or better- buy dried in bulk and cook a huge load every week- lasts forever in the fridge- soak before, overnight, rinsing the water lots of times to take out the gas. Beans are the second most healthy thing you can eat ALL the folic acid and nutirents you need, fava beans are almost complete nutrition and SO tasty. All beans and legumes have low carb4) Veg and fruit- buy a lot of lon glasting veg- peppers, brussel sprouts, carrots, onions, tomatoes, pumpkin almost no carb to speak of. These last a couple weeks at least- Boil brussel sprouts and carrots, and keep in a bowl , ocvered, season with salt and pepper and keep soysauce and ketchup nearby, when you want to reheat or MW for nibbling on.Fruit lasts ages. It has sugar yes, but refined and very love GI, it doesn’t release like white sugar.You can always keep a bowl of lightly cooked veg with a nice dressing ) Ialways have a bog bowl of cooked green courgettes and aubergine, green beans and steamed broccoli mixed up with a lovely soysauce and garlic drssing- it lasts days and if you get hungry, eat bits of that stuff- no guilt, and it is really delicious.5) eggs- keep some hard boiled eggs handy, I would always rather eat baked tofu, too much fat and acid in eggs- but maybe you’d like to have a few hagnign around, for munching on- no carb.6) Pots of yghurt and cottage cheese- soy versions too.All cottage cheese and yoghurt is really good to fill you up, kind of! But no carb, and it’s tasty too.I absoslutely LOVE a tub of no fat cottage cheese, mixed with freshly boiled fava beans, some fresh green peas and some soysauce and honey dressing, OMG, this is SO good, it’s like my favourite thing these day apart form the usual baked tofu masive attack! I love that stuff.7) seeds and nuts, pumpkin, sunflower seeds are SO healthy for you. You are packing your body with SO MUCH good nutrition when you eat these seeds. Small nuts like brazil nuts, almonds and walnuts, they are all really really good for you, no carbs.Eat and buy ONLY non processed foods- for examle if you buy peanut butter, ONLY get natural PB, with only peanuts in it- no added crap like white sugar, oils or anything. There is NEVER a need for processed foods. If you ohnly eat fresh foods, and stay away totally from boxed foods, canned soups and canned foods ( not veg, or fish, but the soups, sauces and anything with 20 ingredients), frozen meals, processed packet foods- stay away from these and oyu will be fine.

  • Beth

    I have done this diet before and it is so easy to stick with.
    You can eat anything your craving as long as you eat it for
    your one reward meal.
    The one thing I changed to make it even more successful,
    is to have my carbs for breakfast. This gives my body all
    day to burn my big breakfast. This works for me because
    I love eating breakfast and I don’t have to worry about finishing
    in an hour. I’m usually finished meal and coffee in less than
    30 minutes.
    Another thing I find better about eating a big breakfast is that I
    Don’t really want to have a big bowl of ice cream first thing in the
    morning. A piece of coffee cake or a few cookies with my coffee
    turns out to have fewer calories that something I might have later in
    the day.
    Also, I try to have every food group for breakfast to stay healthy.

  • MaryAnne

    I would LOVE to hear if anyone has had any problems losing weight while taking beta blockers. I take a low dose of Bisoprolol and I’m just wondering if that’s why I haven’t lost much weight on Atkins. I am going to look into the “Reward Meal” diet plan today.

  • Tanja-StLouis

    I never even had a book for this diet, it is so simple. My mother had a piece of paper that gave her a basic outline.
    => 2 meals a day are carb-free (3-4 carbs or less per serving/portion, 0 carbs is best!) You can eat eggs, meat, cheeses, non-starch vegetables, nuts, peanut butter, no carb soups, carb free/sugar free desserts w/whipped cream. You do not have to have lowfat foods. Just no-carbs for those 2 meals. Oh and if you do your homework, you will find that many berries are very low carb in certain serving sizes.
    => 1 Meal is the “Reward” meal. For your reward meal you can have whatever you want. If you usually drink Orange Juice every morning, save it for the reward meal. If you love pancakes for breakfast, eat it for your reward meal. Our reward meal was always dinner, it was easier to keep control of carbs. If we had pancakes, we had fresh fruit also, and a breakfast meat. You can have whatever you want, just don’t stuff yourself, balance it with a fruit/vegetable, starch, protein. Best if you do in 1/3rds, but its not the end iof the world if you do not have exact measurements. (Okay, so keep in mind that common sense would dictate, that eating a half of a frosted cake, a handful of cherries, and a banana smeared with peanut butter is not a good choice, that is not how the 3rds thing works) You may have that dessert you want, but have one serving, be mindful that you can have a piece, and you are NOT cheating. But, if you eat too much of anything, you are defeating the whole purpose of a “Reward” system. This is also a “Honor” system, and you have to be strong enough to want to lose your weight, MORE that you want that second serving of dessert. Plus know it will be there tommorrow for you. So, the “Reward” Meal, begins from your 1st bite, and continues for one hour. That way you can have dinner, let it settle a bit, and then maybe a refreshing dessert. When that hour ends, thats it, no bites, no juices, no fruit, no sneaks. If you are a sweet freak and you just crave sweetness, there are so many great tasting sugar/carb-free drink mixes on the store shelves…and they are cheap! Have something refreshing to drink. Game Over!
    => Now, I have gone into this more than the piece of paper my mother showed me, so many years ago. in 2001, I lost 85lbs from April to August. I did not crave carbs, sweets, or much of anything. I was not hungry all of the time, and I did not really excercise. With exercise, you will lose more. I have been on this diet, many times, and it is the only weight loss program that really works for me. I dont feel deprived, or left out at meal time. I can go out to dinner, I can have ice cream, and a cookie or three!
    => Now, for faster weight loss, its suggested that you have a dinner salad before your “Reward” Meal every day, to keep you from consuming so much food and calories. A salad with all of the right stuff in it can do so much more for you! Do some reasearch!
    => YOU MUST–YOU MUST–YOU MUST, eat all 3 meals each day. You do not have to have the reward meal if you do not want it. You will most likely lose weight faster. If you just had all 3 meals carb-free and high protein first, veggies second, you are actually doing a program similar to the lap-band diet. But with Lap-band, portions have to be small, and liquid has to be consumed before eating, and not for quite a while after eating to prevent overflow and vomiting.
    => CAD is a really good diet, that really work. Its based on your insulin production, and how much food is made into fat.
    => If you find you are not losing weight, you may try to extend your meals to 5 “meals”. the 3 afore mentioned meals, and 2 protein snacks. Halfway before breakfast and lunch, if you get peckish, maybe a teaspoon or 2 of peanut butter will jumpstart your metabolism, and tide you over until lunch. This can be had between lundh and dinner as well, or after dinner, between dinner and bedtime. You could also have a celery stick with cream cheese, or peanut butter, a cheese stick, a small piece of meat, a slice of cheese, broth, a small handful of nuts. But just one, not all of or several. For some people the extra protein for those 2 snacks, really puts their metabolism into overdrive.
    => Lastly, heres hoping, at least. Drink alot of water. Water will flush your system, it will help you lose weight.
    I hope this has been helpful. Really…as I explain to people, its just No carbs for breakfast, no carbs for lunch and whatever you want for dinner, including dessert, as long as its within one hour, and the meal is balanced with a veggie/fruit-Protein-starch/carb. So simple to remember, all the rest is just a bit of common sense. Good Luck!

  • Elizabeth

    I love this diet, I use it with calorie cycling. You get to eat foods you love every day- within reason! People don’t lose when they continue to eat the bad way that made them gain!

  • Judy

    Has anyone tried eating home made yogurt with straining the weigh off? It should be 0 carbs if you start off with 1/2 n 1/2 cream/milk ???

  • Judy

    Linda its not a % percentage. It’s the grams you should be watching. Any food that is under 4 grams per serving is considered a low carb food, the number of servings is up to you. But all in all, everything in moderation.

  • Kelly

    I went from size 12 to a size 8 AKA 156 lbs to 132 lbs in about 6 months. I kept weight off for a number of years then I started to change the way I ate back to crap and put the weight back on again. I think that certain diets work for certain people – my husband can drop weight doing a low fat diet but that doesn’t work for me at all because I AM A CARBO addict and I will always be one. Now I am back on the diet and the weight is starting to come off and I know now that it has to be a compete lifestyle change to make this work forever. You do lose the desire for sweets after a month or so – and once the weight is off you can break the rules once a week but beware getting into bad habits.

  • Marie

    I have used this diet for 3 years straight and it’s worked for me. It’s really the only diet I can stick to since it allows me to enjoy the foods I want everyday. I never feel deprived. My blood pressure and cholesterol is great and I went from a size 13 to a size 10. I’m able to maintain my weight thanks to this diet. I recommend it to anyone trying to lose weight.

  • judy

    I need help I am 64 yrs old and i had gastric bypass in 1973 I lost 130 lbs and have gained 100lbs back.I have no idea where to start.I crave sweets and alot of
    bread,also starchs I am so desperate.

    • Amanda S

      I have M.E. am on anti-candida diet no sugars etc. etc. Would like to cut down on carbs.

      • Amanda S

        I used to have really sweet tooth, don’t any more!

  • Rose

    I do the original CAD twice a week, combining it with a low carb diet and Let’s Eat Lunch diet the other days of the week. This works for me and I am losing weight beautifully. The secret is (for me) that every single DINNER is low carb, no matter which diet I am on that day. When I do CAD I just eat pure protein for dinner. And I never, ever balance my RM, and I don’t eat for the entire hour- ever. I always have my RM for LUNCH ONLY. I time EVERY meal I have. I just have 2 per day, no matter which plan I’m on that day. My rule for every single day is to not exceed 1 hour divided between these 2 meals. In other words,one meal can be 40 minutes, the other meal 20 minutes,etc. Sometimes I’m too full to even reach the hour’s limit for the day. This regimen may sound complicated, but it is sooooo easy. I’ve lost 10 pounds in a month with 27 pounds to go to goal. It’s through trial and error that I have come up with a plan that allows me to eat heartily while losing weight.

    When I reach GOAL WEIGHT I will do the same plan(s) choosing more days of CAD during the week. I may even add veggies and salad to my dinner meal and/or switch dinner with lunch. I can’t wait till I reach goal weight. However, I’m having great fun losing weight on “my plan” right now.

    • T Wright


      I am curious how your plan is going, and could you explain it more clearly to me. I have been trying to do the CAD diet, but seem to be off and on and I wanted to hear what’s working for others. Thanks!

      • Debs

        I had gained tons of weight after menopause and started the cad and lot 30 lbs. I ate what ever I wanted at dinner including any desserts and it works ! The trick is no more than 4 carbs at breakfast and lunch and no snacking .

      • Rachel

        Hi everyone. I did the CAD severals back and it worked great. However, now I am going through menopause and I have gained weight and when I lose a few pounds it comes back in a flash. I am so frustrated and I started back on the CAD yesterday. I want to lose around 150 pounds. This is the heaviest I have ever been in my life. I am afraid I will develop some health problems due to the weight issue and I have turned 50 on July 17. I want to be successful and improve my health. I am hoping and praying for each and everyone of you, that your success will be great. Take care and it will work.

    • javalinda

      Hi Rose, How are you doing with your combo diet plan? I like your idea of mixing plans to stay on task. I have lowcarbed for years with some bad episodes of falling off the wagon in between- like right now.
      I’d read CAD years ago,mostly do moderate lowcarb, and never heard of Lets Do Lunch. It sounds interesting, I just ordered the book. I would love to hear how its going and if you have any new ideas to share. Thanks and Good Luck, Linda C

      • Linda

        I used this diet before but I can’t remember when I am in the store what was the amount of carbs allowed when you bought things from the store. Was it 3% carbs or 6% carbs on the package?

  • Mandy

    i need help im only 13 and i dont feel gopod about myself! i’m 50 kg and a month ago i was 35 i need to lose all the weight!! my legs touch each other r when i walk! i really need advice fast! i feel miserble about all this!!

  • Ashley

    I did this diet with the book before they revised it with the 1/3 1/3 1/3 restriction, and before the list of foods you can eat. It was literally just “less than 4 grams of carbs for 2 meals” and “eat whatever you want, however much you want, for 1 meal”

    If you lost more than 3 pounds a week, you added a small <2g carb snack. If you continued to lose 3 pounds, you added ANOTHER small snack. I can't even remember what you did if you didn't lose any weight… I never had to worry about it because I always lost weight!

    It seems crazy, but because of the insulin control you give your body with the low-carb meals early in the day, you're not STUFFING YOURSELF or overeating at the end of the day like you do when you eat because of an insulin crash. You eat what you want, feel satisfied, and you don't overeat.

    I'm just now starting the diet again, surprised that there are new "rules." I lost 20 pounds with the 4 grams of carbs for breakfast and lunch followed by a "Reward Meal" of anything (even if a bit unbalanced) for one hour.

    I had to take vitamins, and lunch was often a salad with full fat ranch dressing and cheese (which have less carbs than the light stuff) to get a good serving of veggies in.

    I'm so excited to start this diet again! I know the reason I quit was because it became more and more difficult to find low-carb options for lunch, but hopefully my life's in a better place, now!

    • Diana

      I found the diet worked better to eat my reward meal for lunch and not for dinner. People should try eating the Reward meals at different times and see what works best for them.

    • lisa

      Hi Ashley
      I also did the diet before the rules changed and had great success. I usually dont eat breakfast becasue I am not hungry but ate a no carb lunch. For the reward meal I ate whatever and with no attention to portion control. I did not binge but truly ate whatever I wanted until I was full. Are you still doing the diet? Have you had success?

  • lisa

    would someone please copy the two pages of food allowed

    ( green olives no pimento) I used this diet years ago and lost weight. Know how to do it but don’t want to buy the book again for those pages. thanks

  • Lisa

    Love this plan. This is a lifestyle change for me and I’m so thankful something is working.

  • Nancy

    CRWGCW: You really need to eat the 2 protein/veggie meals during the day so your body doesn’t think it’s starving, which makes your metabolism slow down and keeps you from losing weight. For instance, if you’re not a breakfast eater, just have your coffee, then at around 10 a.m. eat a couple hard-boiled eggs and celery, and at 2 or 3 eat some chicken and red peppers. If you are hungry between those meals, have a protein/celery snack, like a couple of string cheese sticks. Then when you have your reward meal, you won’t pig out. Also, you need to make sure you are eating fat with your protein, because fat helps metabolize the protein (in other words, if you eat fat free sandwich meat, put some mayo on it). If you haven’t read the book, you can get it from the library. If you follow the diet faithfully (meaning make sure the reward meal is balanced with the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 plus salad, and you don’t stuff yourself where you can hardly move), then you should begin to lose weight. Also, check out the benefits of coconut oil instead of other oils for blood sugar absorption on (Bruce Fife wrote a book about all the benefits of coconut oil).

  • Kathy C

    Dear CRWGCW, I’m just your average person on the diet but I would say start eating at least one complementary meal, no carbs. I’ve heard of people eating their reward meal and just one complementary meal and lost weight. Remember no gum or mints, that’s what I hate, what do you do about the bad breathe. Good luck!


    I have been so faithful for just short of 2 weeks. In fact, I’m not even eating any other meal than “happy hour”…which I keep to 55 minutes. The only other thing I have in the day is one cup of coffee with whole whipping cream (zero carbs). I don’t put a lot in my coffee but I do put some.

    Could the cream be the reason I’ve not lost an ounce? I don’t take any medication and trust me…I’m a huge carb addict.

    Please…will someone write back and help me? I need to understand why everyone else is having success except me. I’m not giving up! i refuse to. There must be a reason. Could it be whipping cream in my coffee?


    • Diana

      You’re not eating often enough. Your body went into starvation mode. You must at least eat 2 meals a day. You must have really slowed your metabolism down. You should eat 3 meals a day, and you’ll start losing again. Eat 2 low carb and one reward meal.

    • Linda

      I am hoping what I have to say will help people who know they are carb addicts, but have trouble losing on this plan. I was mostly concerned about my blood sugar levels, when I started the CAD a year ago. I was having the “drugged” sleep sessions during the day and it scared me. I wasn’t hardly eating any high carb foods either. I knew about the diet and had the original book. I tried it many years ago and only lost 15 lbs. When the weight loss stopped I quit the diet, even though I felt good on it. When I started experiencing the the drugged sleep sessions, a year ago in May, I knew I had to do something quick. For two days I ate only animal proteins and low carb veggies. I knew I couldn’t live like that and remembered the CAD diet. I have been doing it ever since and I feel good. I told myself, when I started this, again, that my main concern was to balance my blood sugar levels, that if I didn’t lose weight, so be it. (Ha!) I did keep doing it for the blood sugar level correction and it corrected a host of other problems, such as digestion issues. But I sure wanted to lose those excess 60 lbs, too. However, I only lost a quarter pound or less in a week. I started taking notes on what I was eating, as some days I would lose a pound, but on others I’d gain more than I lost. What I noticed was that, regardless of the “eat anything you want” rule, my body did not respond well to certain foods. I knew I couldn’t have milk products and stayed away from them. But, I did have my once-a-year pizza and gained a couple of pounds the next day. I figured it was due to inflammation from eating an allergic food, which it was. Even though I had no allergic responses to the other foods I found I gained from, I thought I might still be experiencing some kind of inflammation from them, which would account for the sudden gain. What I found was that I have been showing a gain on days I ate foods that contained gluten. I knew which foods to not eat, because of the weight gains, but I only recently realized that they all contained gluten. I hope in discovering this that my weight will come off easier, as I was still eating those items off-and-on knowing on the days I consumed them that I would show a gain. However, now that I realize I have been fostering inflammation in my body (not good) by eating those things, I have eliminated them from my diet just this past week. It took me seven months to lose 40 lbs, but I haven’t lost anything since. I hope with this new revelation that I can finally get rid of the other 20 lbs. I have never written a comment before, but since some people have had trouble losing weight on this diet, even though the adhere to it religiously, I wanted them to be aware that they may need to look for food sensitivities that may be hindering this process. I lost that 40 lbs by trying to stay away from the foods that made me gain (I would gain if I ate a cookie, but I could binge on chocolate candy and lose!). It stood to reason that the summer was when I was able to adhere to that better, since in the winter I wanted some of those comfort foods, which I only partook of during the reward meal. I will now have to find some gluten-free comfort foods. The Point: even though “everything” is legal at your reward meal, you may be unable to lose due to a food your body doesn’t like. Give it a try. I hope you have great success.

      • Rachel

        Linda, that is a great point. Certain sensitivities can cause a flucuation in the body. Our metabolism varies as well. I am very proud of you losing the weight. I need to lose a lot and as I mentioned in another post, menopause has made it so difficult. When I was younger I could lose weight quidkly, but now it is one of the hardest things I have every had to do. Good luck and God bless.

  • Kathy C

    I really like this diet. I’m not hungry and I love eating dessert every day and not feeling guilty. I’m now in my 50’s and not losing as quickly as I did in my 40’s – seems like I’m losing more inches than pounds. Since my weight loss is slower, I’m wondering if I should leave out the splenda in my tea and lemonade. Does anyone else have a problem with sweeteners slowing them down.

    This is a great diet. I wish more people would post about their experiences and we could help each other. Thanks!

  • Holly

    I have done the Bernstein Diet a few times and at the age of 53 it’s just not enough food for me, feel weak on it. Can someone give me a brief rundown of this diet what foods you can and can’t eat etc.

  • Betty

    I am 71 and started this “regime” 19 months ago and have stayed at 8stone all this time. Very pleased. Yoghourt is not mentioned in the book – can I have this for my complimentary meal? Also is ice cream ok for this meal? Many thanks

  • elana grossi

    i love this eating program coz it works and i am not hungry

  • nancy

    How long can I take to eat my complimentary meals? I know that reward meals have to be eaten within the hour.

  • Jennifer Morris

    I did this diet around 10 years ago and lost 42lbs in 4 months. Started it again 9 days ago and I have already lost 17lbs !! It’s so easy to do, you have more energy and you keep focused as the weight keeps coming off.

  • irene seguin

    started the program and I am having a hard time digesting salads,especially letters any answer to my problem thanks>>>>>>

    • ted

      We wouldn’t recommend using “letters” on your salad, humans can’t digest paper :-)

  • donna

    havent started the diet yet..but will…hope it works for I’m gaining too much weight!

  • Melissa

    To Joseph Elkins: I would rather get nutrition advice from a Ph.D. than an M.D. Medical doctors usually know very little about nutrition.

  • Arwen Legolas Wilson

    Is there a list of foods I can eat?

  • Sharon

    My boyfriend brought home the 7-day jumpstart book on a whim. I weighed 320, was very desperate, and was beginning to have problems with diabetes. Once starting the “diet’ I couldn’t believe how easy it was! NO HUNGER! And the weight flew off! The firs 50lbs were within 3 to 4 months. I started exercising and that number has since doubled. I did have a few setbacks, an injury at the gym and surgery, but the miracle is with this program, no weight gain. I have been able to maintain the weight loss. Thank you for writing this book!!! You have saved my life!! To lose 90lbs and keep it off for over 2 years is truly a miracle for me. And I know now that I am 100% I will take off the last 60lbs left. This program works. If it worked for me, it can work for anyone.

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