Hilton Head Metabolism Diet

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

new-hilton-head-metabolism-dietThe Hilton Head Metabolism Diet derives from Dr. Peter M. Miller’s observation, and evidence from subsequent study, that a person’s metabolism burns 70% of all daily calories – the remainder is burned through physical activity. So the main problem in people who are overweight is their body’s failure to burn calories efficiently through metabolism.

Metabolism is the action or the result of chemical processes occurring in living organisms and cells that are necessary to maintain life, breaking down some substances to yield energy for vital processes, and synthesizing other substances.

Dr. Miller is the author of the 1983 best-selling book “The Hilton Head Metabolism Diet” and its more recent follow-on book entitled “The New Hilton Head Metabolism Diet”, and the founder in 1976 of the Hilton Head Health Institute on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Other related books include “The Hilton Head Over-35 Diet” and “The Hilton Head Diet for Children and Teenagers”.

The Hilton Head Metabolism Diet

This program works by changing your body chemistry to burn fat naturally, so that even though you eat five times a day the weight will drop off. The program is in two (repeated) stages. The first stage comprises six weeks of weight reduction, and in the second two-week stage you follow a weight maintenance diet. This cycle is repeated until the ideal weight is achieved. In other words, 6 weeks to drop off pounds, 2 weeks to maintain that weight, then repeat this dietary ‘stairstepping’ as long as necessary.

How the Hilton Head Diet operates

The weight reduction or low-calorie stage involves eating three meals a day plus two snacks (equivalent to no more than about 1,000 calories a day), in a well-structured, low-fat, high-carbohydrate plan. Weight loss through metabolic activity is quicker on several ‘minimeals’ a day than on one or two large meals. On weekends the metabolism can be boosted (and the diet varied) by adding 200 to 250 calories each day.

The maintenance stage (also low-fat, high-carb)bases calorie intake on individual needs as determined by the plan.

In the meal plans, all portions must be measured and nothing skipped, no salt is permitted, and multivitamin/mineral and calcium supplements may be recommended. Daily meal plans restrict calories from fat to under 20% of total, and fat consumption is no more than 15 to 20 g. Drink daily at least five 8-ounce or 250-ml glasses of water (or other noncaloric and noncaffeinated beverages).

Daily exercise is required (two 20-minute walks or equivalent, substituted two/three times a week by a 20-minute session of muscle-firming exercises).

Sample plan for weekday low-calorie meal

Breakfast1 oat bran English muffin with 1 tbspn low-sugar jam or jelly
¾ cup skim milk or 1% fat
1 banana
coffee or tea with sugar substitute
LunchTuna salad sandwich (¼ cup tuna salad on 2 slices of low-calorie whole wheat bread, with lettuce and 2 slices of tomato)
6 raw baby carrot sticks
choice of any noncaloric or low-calorie beverage
Snack1 apple
DinnerPasta (1¼ cups of cooked pasta with ½ cup tomato sauce)
Salad (small dinner salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and 1 tbspn low-fat dressing of choice)
choice of any noncaloric or low-calorie beverage
Snack4 cups air-popped popcorn (no butter or salt)

Look for more low Calorie recipes here.


The structured plan of the Hilton Head Metabolism Diet suits many people, but may be too rigid or demanding for you personally, especially for a larger-framed man. If so, the daily calorie intake may be increased (eg use the boosted weekend plan all week, or increase portion sizes), requiring more weight-loss/maintenance cycles to achieve the objective.

See Also

The New Hilton Head Metabolism Diet by Dr. Peter M. Miller. Achieve permanent weight-loss by changing your body’s metabolism to burn fat more efficiently.

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

    The original hhmd was used in over eaters
    Anonymous groups in 1980, if not before.
    Don’t think there was a book just a menu
    Plan that worked. Lost inches and lbs. Went
    From a 14 to a 8 in 3 mos. Lost it during a move.
    Please help me find it.

  • Dorothy M

    had a heart attack from a stressful fall in deep snow -recovering altogether, but must lose weight at 86 years , saw this DR. recommended diet plan and ordered the newer booik . Where can I get the older one that is said to be simpler in regard to menus , my husband is skinny , and needs some fat ! (ex- hiker and exercise fanatic ) .We hope to RV again all summer so I need simplicity – good luck and health to all here.

  • Tammy Shannahan

    Highly recommend ! Very good! Works! 50 years old. 60 lbs lighter! Feel great!! 2nd time doing this diet! First time after #1 baby. 23 years later, 60 lbs down. Love this diet!! Love the food and exercise !! Walking 20 – 30 minutes twice per day has been awesome!! Merry Christmas!!

    • http://phyllisthemissionary.com/ Phyllisthemissionary Downing

      Do you remember/know the percentage the walking boosts the metabolism? I can’t remember. Thank you.

      • http://phyllisthemissionary.com/ Phyllisthemissionary Downing

        Never mind, I found it. It is between 3 & 4 times. So, if you burned, say 100 calories doing something, after you do the 20 minute metabolism boosting walk, it would boost it to between 300 & 400 calories burned! And up to about 3 or 4 hours (as I recall). You can’t beat that! lol The mind reels at the difference 2 walks a day makes lol

  • Deb

    Back in 1990 I, too, went on the “original” HHMD when I was 20 years old. I think I got the book from my mother-in-law (she did not do the diet). It DOES work. I went from something like 169lbs (5’8) to 152lbs in a short amount of time (4 weeks?). The lowest I’ve ever been. Fit into my first size 12 white jeans EVER (from the Wet Seal….clearly I can remember these goofy things). My weight loss resulted in my first child…lol.
    This is the deal…stick with it…follow it to a “T”….measure your food….don’t substitute, and switch when he tells you to. I remember I did a 20-30 min aerobic video (Denise Austin at the time) in the morning and would walk briskly for 20mins (in my neighborhood…sloping hills…flat, up and down). I would flip those two depending on my day. I worked full-time and overtime when I was younger, but made it work. I remember even when I stopped the diet and exercise, and went back to eating “regular” food, I continued to lose weight for about a week and a half-2 weeks (the furnace was still on).
    Yes, the diet is restrictive, but helps “kick” your metabolism into gear. Its simplistic and to the point, no frills, no blah blah blah, unlike other books nowadays.
    Does it teach you to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Meh, thats up to you. Diets are always temporary solutions to usually immediate problems, its up to us to maintain a healthy lifestyle and exercise.

    • La-La

      Thanks for submitting your comments! I have recently picked up a copy of the 1983 verison of the HHMD at a garage sale recently. I figured with all the funky fads out there now- no one knows what is right! So I figured, what do I have to lose? Maybe going “old school” might be what I need. I was reading through the diet right there on the spot and figured it “wasn’t too demanding” and realistic. So here I am, a 38 yr old trying for the firlst time. I will keep you all posted! Thanks for letting me know the “ins & outs” for doing the diet to reach success.
      My tough part will be figuring out the AM exercise because I start work at 7 am. I will figure something out. As long as I keep trying, something will come up!

      • Pat Williams

        I bought the original book, went on the diet, exercised 20 minutes twice a day, walked at work right after lunch then again after dinner in the evening; I lost 22 pounds in 3 months. I am about to try it again but someone borrowed my book so trying to do from memory. I did cheat once in a while but not often and timing is important, like it says exercise starting about 20 minutes after meal and not longer than, can’t remember time but this does work! Good luck.

      • Jab

        La-La, I know the diet works but I cant find my 1983 addition. I did not like the newer version. Is there any way you would share???

      • MammaGrasshoppa

        I did this diet after 2 years after the birth of my son. Lost 30 lbs and actually was able to do a 5K run. Now 22 years later I am excited about starting it again.

  • Robert

    I went on this diet back 20+ years ago and lost 30lbs in the first month. It was amazing, but you have to stick to the diet and exercise plan. Now it is time to do it again. Wish me luck!

    • aud

      did you go on the diet and did you stick with it?

      • Didier

        Eating smart with the daily walking sonuds good:The natural “diet”: Eat, drink, and be merryEat smart – well-balanced meals, cut out any unnecessary calories (snacking just because), eat when you are hungry (grumbling stomach, hunger pains) and only eat until you are satisfied (not a bite more), 5-6 smaller meals is better than 3 larger ones. Also, stop eating 2-3 hours before bed – you should be slightly hungry at bed timeDrink plenty of water, not only to stay hydrated, but its important for weight loss, including helping the muscles tone and suppressing hungry. (Tip – the lighter your urine the more hydrated you are.)Be merry – in other words exercise, not only is it needed for weight loss, it releases chemicals in your brain and makes you more happy (some of it is addicting which is known to a lot as “runner’s high”). 30 minutes of cardio is recommended daily, and a good work out program uses cardio and weight training (even if it’s just toning – light weights, more reps). Do something you enjoy and it will be easier to stick it out.

  • Shari

    I have done this diet after giving birth to my 3 kids. And IT WORKS!!! Follow it to the T and you will have amazing results.

  • Kelli

    This diet is my 2012 New Years Resolution Diet. A friend of mine got the book at a yard sale very cheap. I told her if it worked for her, than I would try it. Well I saw her again about four or five weeks later and she looks great… she has lost 22 pounds so far. So she gave me a copy of the book for Christmas and my start day is the 2nd of January… I am excited!

  • George

    I too have used the HHMD several times with good results. I was interested in the comments that several favor the original over the later versions. I will begin using my original book again. I am encouraged by everyone’s comments about success using this plan.

  • Tracy

    I had much success on this diet 23 years ago before my wedding. I went from a size 12 to a 9 on the 6 weeks plan. I stayed the same weight for over 5 yrs. I am going back on this diet tomorrow 10-1-11 for a 30 lb loss (7wks)

  • Renee

    I have done this diet before. But like many have needed to do diet again. What we need to do is find a way of eating (also called a diet) that we can maintain for life. Then we don’t have to go on “diets” anymore. That’s what I have done and it is so much better. Eat healthy, exercise and get rid of all that junk that, let’s face it, most people eat way too often.

  • Betsy

    I love this diet! I went on this diet in the 90’s and went from a size 14 to a size 6 in 8 weeks. I kept the weight off for about two years then I got back into those old eating habits. The diet works and is easy to follow. I would recommend this diet to anyone that is serious about wanting to drop a few pounds. I felt great when I was eating right and exercising. I am starting on this diet again as I have many pounds to remove. I am hoping for success as I had before and the will power not to go back to those old ways of eating.

  • karen stapleton

    I have a question about the diet—-can anyone answer it? Do you have to eat exactly what is listed? For example do you need to eat the radishes & onions in a salad? Is there some kind of chemical reaction that is associated with these foods. Can I have my tuna plain or do I have to put mayo on it? etc…… Thank-you to whoever can help me out here.. Karen

    • SUE

      Concerning the question of radishes and onions or not in the salad, according to a knowledge of nutrition, is, you could leave them out and substitute another low calorie, fat free, salad ingredient such as celery or even a few shredded carrots. The caloric and nutritional value are negligible. But as to the mayo on the tuna, you do need a certain amount of fat, which the mayo provides, for optimum health. You might substitute another fat, but be careful because all fats are not equal. Be very careful about this one.

  • Jules

    Hsd much success on this diet in the 90’s. For me, there is no other diet that works. You eat real natural food. Just like others have mentioned. I only found success with the original book. I tried the over 35 and the new improved version. They were not as simple as the original version. Today I am starting the diet again. Will stay on it for 10 to 14 weeks to lose 50 pounds. The 1st 2 days are the hardest with the calorie reduction.

  • harriet

    I did the original diet in 1996 and in 3 months I lost 30 lbs. and kept it off for 2 years. I did twice the amount of exercise twice a day, and the original diet was less than 1000 calories before exercise. I liked it, but couldn’t stick to it again. I may try again, though.

  • Hiawatha

    This diet plan works, bottom line. I started the meal/exercise plan on Monday. When I weighted myself this morning (Wednesday), I see that I’ve already dropped seven pounds. I’m hoping by the end of week one to have lost a total of 10-12 pounds.

  • dale

    I did the original back in late 80’s and couldn’t believe the inches i lost.Through the year’s I have relied on it again and again. What I have found is that you absolutely have to do it to the letter including the exercises every day. Don’t deviate from the plan whatsoever. It works!

  • jpark

    I agree with Lisa nad Joyce. I prefer the original diet plan. I lost 45 pounds in the nineties and have slowly gained the weight back. Planning to start it again. It’s the ONLY diet that works for me!

  • Ruth

    A friend told me about this eating plan. I bought the book on Amazon for 7 bucks. I lost 11 lbs the first week. I didn’t stay on it long enough to lose all I had to lose (just lost focus) but I’m trying it again and will stay on it this time. Will let you know how i did. Its a great plan because you eat regular food you can eat with your family with two snacks.

  • Wendy

    I did this diet in 1987, lost 26 lbs and kept it off for many years. The most important was exercising for 20 minutes after two meals each day. The original diet is the best!

  • cbb

    I used this diet in the mid-90s and it was so successful that my sister used it and also had success. I’ve thought about it again, but am older and much lazier. Hope I can get the motivation. Really loved the miled aerobic exercise and the timing of this activity. I’ve recommended this diet and still do.

  • Deniise

    I did this diet 15 years ago to get ready for a Jamica trip, could not believe how I went from a size 12 to a size 4 in 2 months…..I was so happy, trying to start again this week……..

    Denise/Landover MD

  • MAK

    My doctor recommended this diet to me back in 1991 & it works!!!! The first time I tried it / I was hooked! There is nothing extreme or fad/like about this diet. It’s real food which also by preparing & cooking yourself brings you to a greater awareness & appreciation of your meal. Who knew food could be appreciated? This diet works / try for your first 10 lbs. & you will be hooked!

  • martini

    Thanks for the HHMD write-up. My used bk will arrive shortly & I’m excited to do this. Inspiring success stories (at various sites) of strangers & co-workers. Will love posting my own! Thx all!

  • Jo-Ann

    I lost 30 pounds on this program 20 years ago. Once I stopped exercising…it slowly came back. I’m starting once again tomorrow. Need to loose that 30 plus 10. I’m 66 years old now…so need a little encouragement.

    • Shirley

      Jo-Ann.. I did the diet also 2o years ago and lost 15lbs. I do remember I kept it off about 8 months even after going back to my old eating habits. I am now 55 and hoping to get started again soon. I didn’t like the new version that much so since time has passed i was in the weight loss field with two major weight loss companies for 9 years. I got to my goal weight and life happened. So I am trying to push myself to start it up in 2013. My friend and I always talk about this book but neither one of us has pushed ourselves to do it again. Let’s get going Jo-Ann!!!!!!!!!!

      • Shirley

        Well now JoAnn, I just noticed the date you posted so did you do the plan?

  • jennifer

    yeah this is the best diet I have ever tried..lost like 75 pounds…I felt great had lots of energy and the weight just fell off. got another 20 pounds to go.

  • Judy Morrill

    I went on this diet on Feb. 4th, 1991. I wanted toloose weight for my 20 yr. high schol reunion. Well, by August, I had lost 53 lbs., & looked great! Now, I’m 57, & more overweight than ever. I’m going to go on the diet again, because I’ve had such success. Wish me luck!

  • Raechel

    this is a very good eating plan. 10 pounds lost looks like 15….and I had very high energy and great skin. It’s the best eating plan I have found in my 52 years. Seriously….easy to follow and I never feel hungry!!!!

  • anita

    This diet worked for me 15 years ago. I kept the weight off until just this last year. Being confronted with a divorce I stopped exercising, ate, and became depressed. Well I am back on it today!

  • donna

    I have been on every diet out there!! back in the 80’s this was the only diet that worked. I found the original book on line and bought it…it brought me back to the only diet that worked…so I am now going to try it again and I will let you know if I can do it again.,..I pray I can, back in the day I wanted to loose because of looks now its for my health and life…..

  • Lisa

    i tried the original book: hhmd 18+ years ago and lost about 60lbs and kept it off for many years. i attempted the new hhmd and the over 40 a couple of years ago, but i find that the original is easier to follow and you can cook the same for your family. i am hoping to see a few lbs lost by the end of the week to encourage me to continue on my 60+ lbs i want to lose now.

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