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 determine 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.


  • Avena, N. M., Rada, P., & Hoebel, B. G. (2008). Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 32(1), 20-39. link
  • Avena, N. M., Rada, P., & Hoebel, B. G. (2009). Sugar and fat bingeing have notable differences in addictive-like behavior. The Journal of nutrition, 139(3), 623-628. link
 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
Last Reviewed: January 13, 2015. Disclaimer


  1. Beverly

    About the complimentary meal, it says about 4 ounces of protein and vegetables, but not all vegetables. It was strange to me that you could not have brocolli, nearly all diets let you have brocolli. No breading, on your meat until reward meal.

  2. Beverly

    I started it Monday. I had done it years ago. I am very strict on my Complimentary meals, but on my reward meal I don’t eat a salad like it says and I lost 5 lbs this week. I am completely satisfied. I don’t eat anything that is not sugarfree for a dessert, because I am used to it. I have had pizza, tamales and chilli, Popeye’s Chicken with potatoes. I have not had pizza in years. It is fun.

  3. Karen

    For the complimentary meal, I’m confused about the portion sizes. Someone told me that I could only eat 4 carbs total during the two comp meals. Is this true?

  4. Jana Hahn

    I went on the diet several years ago because my daughter in law lost so much weight on it. So did I.
    When I stopped I went on Adkins. Same results. I have tried to go on the Heller diet several times and cannot stick with it. Any suggestions for a second time around?

  5. Heidi

    Yes, you can have anything you want be the 1/3 carb protion. If you would like dessert go ahead. If you want baked pot. go ahead. Just make sure it is the same proportion to your vegi and protein and that you have two cups of salad.

  6. Linda C

    I am most confused about “desserts” and carb foods at the reward meal. 1/3 of the plate protein; 1/3 plate
    veges; 1/3 plate dessert/carb (rice, potato, etc). What
    does that last third mean… serving of rice, or baked
    potato AND dessert? (pie, cake, ice cream, whatever?)
    I’m so confused about that part. HELP!!!

  7. Jennifer

    Did this about 15 months ago and in 4 months lost 45lbs. I then got pregnant..tried to still work the diet and only gained 21 lbs in my pregnancy. Since having baby I have been breast feeding and actually have gained 12 lbs since pre pregnancy weight. Been trying a couple of other diets thinking maybe they will work but I am going back to CAD. It is the only one that was EFFORTLESS and worked.

  8. shellece

    I Lost about 35 lbs in about 6 months on the CAD. That was about 2 years ago. I started working selling Real Estate and it is so stressful I found myself eating from stress and went off the diet and gained most of the weight back.

    Honestly when I am off the diet I score the highest you can score on the Carbohydrate Addiction Test (embarrassing) and I am out of control. All I can think about is carbs. Even though when I am off the diet and I eat whatever I want nothing satisfies me. I feel hopeless and out of control. It’s awful.

    I bought their 7 day book and have started reading it. I am sooo sensitive to even a piece of sugar free gum or anything that is sweet even if it has low or no carbs. I need to eat more veges for sure and be more healthy this time. I love love love this diet. I can’t do any other diet which makes me feel like a loser but the books helped me understand that it is truly an addiction and it’s not my fault. I am so glad I have never tried drugs or alchohol because of this carb addiction I fear I might easily become addicted to those as well.

    I know the diet sounds crazy and I have had people make fun of me and think the diet can’t work but for me it’s absolutely the only diet that does work. I am sad that so many people are so close minded and won’t give it a chance because when you are following it, it’s the best of both worlds. Now when I do eat my Reward Meal I completely enjoy my food and am completely satisfied. Good Luck to everyone trying it and follow the diet to the T and read every word of the books because making up your own rules or modifying it in any way will make you gain or at least stop losing. You will not believe how great you can eat and still lose weight, feel good, happy, in control, and like there is hope.

  9. BonnieD

    As a middle school teacher it was very strange for me to fall sound asleep during the middle of a 500 student school assembly, and not be able to bring myslf to. Being afraid that someone would think I was on drugs or something I immediately called my doctor and she suggested the Heller diet. I loved it! The weight just dropped off and I felt so much better. That was about 10 years ago. I fell off track and put on lots of weight… 30 pounds. I finally faithfully started the diet again, but have noticed that there’s a new 2010 version of the book. I’m not dropping the weight yet, but I feel so much better. When I’m tutoring about 2 hours after my lunch, I’m not falling asleep on the poor child. I feel more energized and in control. I would highly recommend this diet, especially if you love your breads!

  10. Rene'

    I did this diet back in the early 90’s. To answer a question about headaches and vomiting…this is your body’s reaction to taking away the sugar and carbs at random times of the day. Your body just has to acclimate to the changes. From what I remember, this is not “uncommon”. It’s like withdrawal symptoms (it’s an addicts withdrawal), I think they talk about this in their book?? Good luck to you, and I wouldn’t quit the diet, just find alternative ways to approach it until your body has finished its withdrawal. I personally had headaches from caffeine withdrawal, man – I was naseaus as could be too.

  11. dani

    Are you allowed very low carb sancks on this diet- I used it about 7 years ago – but I cant recall if you are allowed non carb snacks like- cheese, almonds etc

  12. Joyo

    I just started this way of eating a couple of days ago and already feeling very hopeful. My metabolism was stuck…stayed the same weight doing the Atkins diet so tried a low fat, 1300 calorie diet. Nuthin’! On Atkins, I’m bored..on low fat, I’m starving all day. CAD seems to be the answer to my prayers. I’m not bored because of the reward meal and I’m not hungry because of the high protein, good fats and low carb mini-meals. Have already dropped 4 lbs. Although I know that’s mostly water, at least the stupid scale is moving now and is encouraging.


    i love this diet.. thing is ive had side effects.. the first time i did it i couldnt believe my luck how great this diet was.. but day 6 i was throwing up and had migraines.. i assumed id caught a bug tht my son had but ended up comin off it as i felt ill.. 2 months later i did it again and on day 6 had terrible headcold and felt really ill.. i wonder if im dehydarted when iv done it and need to drink more water?? i love th diet and hope its just dehydrating cos its so easy.. both times i lost 5lbs in 1 wk and didnt feel deprived at all, felt great ..

  14. Lesley

    Been doing the diet for ten days now and have only lost 1lb, is this normal? Oh and can you eat chewing gum?

  15. Penny

    I went on this diet back in 2000 and lost about 40lbs which is what I needed to lose. I also exercised while doing this diet plan. Since then I have gained it all back…due to going off the diet plan. I am starting it again today and know I will have success. This is the only diet that has ever worked for me and the continual progress keeps me motivated. From a chocoholic’s perspective the reward meal is great.

  16. Bob Frapples

    Going back on this Lifestyle Change today. Lost 35 Lbs I had gained when I became a Vegetarian. Little harder with no Fish Or Chicken though…It works!