Can The Trim Healthy Mama Diet Help You Lose Weight?

If #THM isn't all over your feeds yet, it will be soon. The plan, a.k.a. the Trim Healthy Mama Diet, has more than half a million Facebook fans who can't stop posting pics of their favorite recipes—and, of course, their dramatic before-and-after photos.

But what is the Trim Healthy Mama Diet, exactly (besides an eating plan in serious need of a new name)? THM started as a self-published book in 2012. The authors, Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison, are sisters who both wanted to change up their eating habits, but for different reasons; Barrett was looking to lose weight, while Allison wanted to stop feeling bloated from her hardcore raw foods diet.

The two are not registered dietitians and don't have any actual training in nutrition. But they came up with a plan that emphasized eating carb-focused meals at certain times and fat-heavy meals at others—and they say it worked for them.

“As soon as we found a sane and simple approach...we had to tell the world,” Allison told Daily Burn. Both women are moms, hence the name, and a lot of the plan's fans are women trying to lose their extra pregnancy pounds—but Barrett and Allison say their program was never meant to be exclusively for mothers.

Their book hit the New York Times bestseller list, and three years later, Penguin Random House republished it, along with an additional cookbook, The Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook, which has more than 350 recipes.

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What Can You Eat On The Trim Healthy Mama Diet?

There aren’t any “banned” food groups in THM—fruits, vegetables, carbs, protein, and healthy fats all get a pass. The main rule of the diet is that you shouldn’t eat carbs and fats at the same time. Instead, the idea is to separate what the diet refers to as “fuel types” (i.e., fat and carbs) by alternating between them—and then eating a corresponding protein at every meal, as well.

If you choose to eat carbs, for example, the plan suggests you pair it with a lean protein source (like chicken, egg whites, beans, 0% yogurt or cottage cheese, among other options). And if you go with fat, your protein source should be fattier, too, according to the diet (think: beef, cream, nuts, cheese).

The diet also says you should skip sugar and go for sweeteners like Stevia instead. Oh, and wait three hours to eat between each meal. There's more to it, of course—the original book has over 600 pages of information!—but that's the basic gist.

Will The THM Plan Actually Help You Lose Weight?

The verdict’s still out on the plan’s effectiveness—especially because there aren’t any scientific studies looking at whether it actually works. “Anecdotally, it could work for some people, and judging from the success stories on its Facebook page, it seems like it has,” says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet. “But that doesn’t mean it’s going to work for everyone, and I question the approach. It goes against what I’ve seen work in my career as a professional nutritionist.”

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Gans tells her clients to balance their plates, which means eating about 50% vegetables, 25% protein, and 25% whole grains—with some healthy fats mixed in. Fats can be used in the preparation (like when you cook with olive oil), used as a topping (like avocado or almonds in your salad), or included as part of the protein (like salmon).

“Diet plans that have proven to be successful scientifically—like the Mediterranean plan—have all been based on balance,” Gans explains.

“It comes down to satiety," she adds. If I tell one of my clients to have a piece of fruit, I’ll always suggest pairing it with some nuts, because I want them to have some fat with their carbs. The combo makes you feel fuller for longer, because it takes longer to digest. I don't see where the science is in separating your fats from your carbs.”

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If you find THM's success stories too irresistible to ignore, you can go ahead and try this plan out for yourself since it’s not dangerous. “You just may not get the successful results you want,” says Gans. “The diet could possibly work for someone who loves structure and following rules, but I do not think they would be able to sustain any weight loss."

Worth noting: Gans says you definitely shouldn't try THM if you have diabetes or a history of low blood sugar, since the diet encourages so many carb-heavy meals.

“The important thing to remember is that no matter what you do or how you eat, healthy eating shouldn’t be complicated," says Gans. So if getting anal-retentive about planning carb-y meals vs. fatty ones is stressing you out, feel free to say "Bye, Felicia" to THM.


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