Rotation Diet Plan


The Rotation Diet plan was developed in 1986 by psychologist and obesity expert Martin Katahn, the Director of the Vanderbilt University Weight Management program, He designed an eating plan in which followers rotate their daily calorie intake for a one-month period to achieve their desired weight loss. Daily exercise is also recommended on the plan.

The Basics

  • During the four-week plan, you gradually increase your calorie intake. Men and women have separate calorie counts. Women start out with an extremely low 600 calories a day for the first three days. Then, the next four days are bumped up to 900 calories. Women consume 1,200 calories for the entire second week. The third week is a repeat of the first.

    Men start their Rotation Diet plan with 1,200 calories for three days. The next four days are 1,500 calories, and the second week is 1,800 calories. And the third week is repeated just as it is for women. Both men and women enjoy a fourth week as a "vacation" from the diet, with no restrictions on what you eat.

The Food

  • Since a significant amount of the time is spent in very low-calorie territory, you should avoid high-fat and high-calorie foods. Your hunger is addressed by eating large quantities of "free" fruits and vegetables such as celery, asparagus and pineapple.

    Here's a sample menu for a 600-calorie day:

    1 ounce fortified cereal
    8 ounces skim milk, ½ cup berries or other fruit

    ¾ cup yogurt
    ½ banana
    1 tablespoon wheat germ

    3 ounces broiled or poached fish
    ½ cup rice
    1 cup broccoli
    1 cup tossed salad of unlimited vegetables with zero-calorie dressing

The Theory

  • Katahn believes that the body's metabolism slows, adjusting to the diet change after three weeks. This is the purpose of the rotation. The "vacation" week is allowed because it is much easier to maintain a diet if you aren't banning your favorite guilty pleasures for life.

The Pros

  • If you follow the Rotation Diet, you will lose weight. It's practically impossible not to with such calorie restriction. Having a week when you can eat your favorite not-so-healthy meals and sweets is a nice break as well.

The Cons

  • Six hundred calories, which is what you do for three days at a time on the Rotation Diet, is at starvation levels. There's no reason anyone should restrict their caloric intake in such a drastic manner. Even though exercise is part of the Rotation Diet, it would be very difficult on such low energy levels.


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