The 5 Bite Diet - Diet Review

- POSTED ON: Oct 16, 2012

Review of the 5 Bite Diet


The thin, large-print, paperback book “Why Weight Around” (2007) by Alwin Lewis, M.D., encourages readers to follow the five-bite diet for weight-loss. This is a self-published book through Lulu "vanity" press and it retails for around $25.

Dr Lewis recommends the 5 Bite approach to eating:

• Drink as much as you want as long as the drinks are free of calories.
• Skip breakfast
• Have 5 bites of any food for lunch.
• Have 5 bites of any food for dinner.
• Eat at least one bite of protein each day.
• Take a multi-vitamin supplement every day

Dr. Lewis assures the reader that after three days on this diet, that you will stop feeling hungry because your body will learn to feel full on this smaller amount of food. This is commonly known to be a valid statement, as hunger ordinarily leaves one’s body after approximately 3 days of starvation such as during a water fast.  He says the the body continually recycles amino acids so very little daily protein is actually necessary when on a weight-loss program.

The five-bite diet involves voluntarily eating the way people are forced to eat after a gastric bypass, in order to give a dieter the benefits of stomach stapling without the surgery. As with many diet plans, the principle of the five-bite diet is to exercise portion control in order to limit your calorie intake. The program allows you to choose to eat any food you want, which can help prevent the feelings of deprivation that often lead people to quit their diets. The five-bite diet is not designed to be a permanent plan. Once you've reached your weight goal, you're advised to resume your normal eating habits.

Dr. Lewis says the volume of 5 bites is about the same as a regular size Snickers candy bar, and recommends that people on the diet eat two Snickers bars a day in order to familiarize themselves with how much 5 bites is.

Dr. Lewis, …just like almost all diet book authors … claims to have successfully followed his diet himself, and at 6 ft tall, he says that he lost from his high of around 190 lbs down to 137 lbs. He recommends that, for good health and a more attractive appearance, everyone should achieve an 18.5 BMI, which is at the bottom border between underweight and normal weight.

Dr. Lewis practices Internal medicine in Burbank, California where he apparently treats obese, overweight, and normal weight patients who have a BMI above 18.5, by putting them on the 5 bite diet. His website, offers an online membership, for $50 per year, but at times this membership fee is $50 per month. It also offers 3 months of weekly one-on-one telephone coaching with Dr. Lewis for a $2,000 fee.

As part of my dieting hobby, I have experimented with the 5 bite diet. Twenty years ago, after my own gastric bypass, I personally experienced what post-gastric-bypass surgery eating is like, and was interested in running a comparison between that experience and the 5 bite diet.

My experimentation with the 5 bite diet occurred while my weight was in the middle of the normal weight BMI range. I successfully completed two weeks of 5 bite diet, and left it in the third week. The first week my weight dropped 7 pounds. While continuing to successfully follow the 5 bite diet rules, during the second week on the 5 bite diet, my body re-gained 5 of those pounds. I left the diet during the my third week, and upon returning to my normal 1,000 calorie diet, the remaining 2 pounds immediately returned, giving me a zero net loss. During a three year period, I repeated this experiment on several occasions, and each time I received similar personal results.

The calories in two 2 oz Snickers candy bars is a total of about 550 calories.   Therefore successfully following the diet would cause weight loss for almost everyone, especially if that person is obese. Normally, I maintain my current weight on about a 1,000 calorie daily average. My personal results were due to my normal-weight as a short, inactive, reduced-obese female over 60 years of age, with a very low calorie burn, and probably... during the diet, my body's metabolism shifted downward to compensate for the very-low-calorie-intake.  if I had chosen to follow the 5 Bite diet for a longer period, over time, it might have caused a net fat-loss. However, the 5 Bite Diet hasn't provided enough appeal to me personally to motivate me to follow through with testing that hypothesis.

My first experiment with this diet was several years ago, and as a part of that process, I purchased a year’s online membership for $50, and for a time, actively posted on Dr. Lewis’ site. As part of that membership I participated in several of the weekly chat sessions with Dr. Lewis himself.   Dr. Lewis was very committed to the 5-bite diet and enthusiasttic. He appeared, however, to be rather insensitive, very egocentric, and sometimes quite rude. When people achieved only modest weight-loss results, he was prone to imply they were lying about their compliance. He ignored some very basic dieting realities, and while "coaching" members, he was prone to state his opinion as fact, and make grandiose claims which (similar to marketing puffery) were backed up by little or no verifiable evidence.

My above-stated opinion was formed due to what I witnessed during my online participation,  As one personal example: I took exception to Dr. Lewis' blanket statements about HOW FAST EVERYONE ALWAYS loses weight after a Gastric Bypass, and advised him that this was not my own experience nor the experiences of many other women that I have personally witnessed. 

To explain my objection to his claims of fast weight-loss for EVERYONE, I told Dr. Lewis that after reviewing my own detailed  records (which I kept current during the first year after my own Gastric  Bypass), my personal weight loss during the first year after surgery ... while eating only about 500 calories per day ... averaged around 2 pounds per week... From 271 lbs down to a low of 159 (which for me was still "obese", because that number is 6 pounds above the bottom BMI border of my "Obese"  weight-range).  Providing him with this information and detailed records, did not cause any adjustment or alteration in his position, and in fact Dr. Lewis indicated to me that he believed that my statements were either inaccurate or less than truthful.

For those here who are interested, I'll add that following the 1st year after my Gastric Bypass, I had an almost immediate  regain into the mid 160s, as my ability to eat more calories increased. After about three years, while eating approximately an average of not more than 1,500 to 1,600 calories a day ... together with a great deal of active dieting to maintain my weight-loss,...  my weight crept
back up into the 190s.

I believe that every diet works for someone. The 5-bite diet is an interesting concept, and I can see how it could be an effective weight-loss tactic for an obese person with an extremely busy schedule,
especially if that person has latent anorexic tendencies and lacks a genuine interest in food.  At this point, I am not totally opposed to the 5-Bite Diet. It has many things which appeal to me, and there may be a future time when I will choose to try it again.

Below are two videos about the 5 Bite Diet.

The FIRST video is an interesting and positive interview of Dr. Lewis.

The SECOND video is an rather amusing negative diet review.

Leave me a comment.

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Existing Comments:

On Oct 16, 2012 wrote:
Oh Phyllis this is a gem to say the least. Dr. Lewis appears to be a 'normal'person; but his 5 bite method is pure 'insanity'. What is one to do when and if the weight goal is ever achieved; eat 7 bites a day? I cannot believe he would charge anyone $25.00 for such poor uninformed advice. I end by saying if one mentally accepts what Dr. Lewis says this diet will work. Cut he calories and you will lose weight it's that simple. Love the 'Negative Diet Review'.

On Oct 16, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Thanks John. I found the diet to be personally quite entertaining, and enjoyed experimenting with it ... except of course, for the lack of food, and initial hunger. =D I have a future article in mind about some interesting concepts about differences between an ongoing weight-loss phase, and an ongoing maintenance phase.

On Oct 16, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
Gee I wish you had an edit button this page. My keyboard sometimes skips letters.

On Oct 16, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             I understand and join you in that wish, however, at present even I don't have the power to edit my own replies to posts on this page.

On Oct 16, 2012 Alma wrote:
Sounds like "someone" owns stock shares in Snickers...........LOL! This diet does not sound safe or healthy but I am considering trying it for a few days. If nothing else, it will probably eliminate salivating every time I see Snickers!

On Oct 17, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Hi Alma, I think that a person who is generally in good health, and not taking any medications that require special consideration, should feel free to try out any type of diet plan ... or way-of-eating... that appeals to them.

On Jan 17, 2013 munchncrunch wrote:
I just started this diet (Under doctor advice and care) 1month and 1 week ago. I am 5'6 and 240lbs I had 2 babies and couldnt get the weight I gained off no matter what I did. Went to the Doctor bout my weight andhe told me about this 5 bite diet. I started that day went back 3 day later weighed in lost 7lbs scheduled another weigh in appointment 2 weeks later lost 16lbs. 1month and 1 week lost over 40lbs. I dont care what any body says this works and I feel so much better and I have more energy then ever. I can fit into jeans I havent fit into years and I am still losing. This is a simple diet and so easy..

On Jan 17, 2013 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Hi munchncrunch, I am certain that every diet works for someone, and I am pleased to hear that this diet is working for you right now. I did find it to be a very simple diet, but I, personally, didn't find it easy to have only 5 bites twice a day. I hope you are totally successful with your efforts. Let me know how it goes.

On Feb 28, 2013 danielsaun wrote:
Wow I have tried the 5 bite diet several times over the last few years. I have struggled with obesity all my life, since I was six. Mom didn't provide the healthiest meals at times. I am afraid that I am doomed to a life of yo you obesity because of this as I have read obese kids will struggle with weight all their lives since their early behavior was unhealthy. I am so frustrated. I lose the weight with 5 bite diet and then when I go back to eating more normal the weight comes right back. Since I am a fairly active guy, mid 40s, work out 3-5 times a week I have never restricted myself to 5 bites twice a day. I would eat 5-7 at lunch, 10-15 for dinner, and 10 for desert and I still lost a pound a day because of my exercise. I am not that obese 6 feet 220, but have been as high as 270 last year. My weight just bounces around especially on 5 bites. Does anyone know what the suggested bites per meal are once you reach your goal? I went to sign up for slimming station and it's now $50 a month, not year ouch! I don't know what to do I want 5 bites to work but the rebound weight gain is very depressing. A few weeks ago I was 209 and now back to 220-222. I want this diet to work as Weight Watchers looks much more complicated and restricted. Please advise, thank you.

On Feb 28, 2013 Dr. Collins wrote:
             I suggest you go to the Archives and read my articles entitled The Essence of Diets 1 and 2, which were posted in March 02, and 03, in 2011, There are many different ways of dieting, but all of them are based on the same principles. All weight-loss diets, including the 5-bite diet. work because they cause the daily food intake to be less than the body uses for itís daily burn. The 5-bite diet as defined by 10 bites equalling 2 snickers bars daily is around 560 calories daily. 30 similar bites could equal 1680 calories. The daily burn of an AVERAGE, sedentary 45 year old, 6 ft, 220 lb male is around 2,300-2,400 calories. That averageís normally variance is 14% meaning that if oneís maintenance burn is lower than average, it could be only about 2,000 daily calories. There are many articles inside the Archives, if you read them you will learn a great deal of information, and get some ideas that can help answer your questions.

On Apr 15, 2013 Vilma1249 wrote:
I'm a 52-year-old woman and I've always had a weight problem. I've gotten as low as 150 lbs. but mostly I remained in the upper 200s until I reached a whopping 306 lbs some years ago. Here's why I think this "5-bite diet plan" is insane and it won't work for the long run: the person is virtually starving so, of course, they'll lose weight. However, according to what I've read about this 5-bite program, once you reach your goal weight, then you're supposed to go back to eating "normally." Obese people have no concept of what "normal" eating is. I know first hand. We don't understand portion controls, we don't eat the right foods, and we don't exercise. That's why we're obese. So, yes, this 5-bite program will give you a good kick start to losing weight, but once you stop doing it, you'll revert back to your old eating habits and then - as most obese people know - you'll not only gain what you lost, but you'll gain more. Last December I joined Weight Watchers and have lost over 40 lbs so far. I'm not starving, I eat ANYTHING and EVERYTHING I want, I just make sure to stay on points (every food has a point value and you're allotted so many points daily/weekly). The reason Weight Watchers is the best program out there is because it teaches you what and how to eat. Once you reach your goal weight, you'll still be eating what you've been eating all along. I venture to guess that this "5-bite diet" will disappear into the sunset just like every other useless diet has in the last 40 years I've been dieting.

On Apr 15, 2013 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Hi Vilma, I'm happy to hear that you are enjoying your time on the Weight Watchers program, and losing weight with it. I'd love you to keep me informed about your progress.

On Aug 28, 2013 munchncrunch wrote:
I am back. I posted in Jan/17/2013 about this diet I was 240lbs and I lost my weight I am 140lbs and healthy lost the weight in 3months and 2 weeks. I been off the diet for about 3 and half months now I have not gained no weight back I have been eating healthier and exercising 3x a week for about 45min each time. Since I lost the weight my blood pressure is normal and my health is better my legs do not hurt no more. This diet is not for everyone and I feel like if your trying to lose weight experiment and try what works for you. Do not judge until you try it for yourself. I know people judge this diet and people that is on it but it worked for me and I am doing just fine and healthy.. Like I said not every diet is going to work for the same people. The truth is you got to believe in your self and be positive.

On Aug 28, 2013 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Hi munchncrunch, Glad to see you back. I'm very pleased to hear you've been successful with your weight-loss, and I hope that in the next 8 years, you will be as successful with your weight maintenance as I have been. I've personally experimented with the 5-bite diet several times, and found that it was not for me. However, it's not a one-size-fits-all world and I firmly believe that while Every Diet works for Somebody, No Diet works for Everybody.

On Apr 15, 2014 oolala53 wrote:
Wow, you got a lot of interest in this! Don't remember how I came across it. Wasn't looking for it. I'm sure you'll know my first reaction: I am never impressed by people in the first two years of using any program. I've been on Spark for years and seen countless women all excited about how much they've lost in the first few weeks of a plan, only to stall, get discouraged, give up, gain back, etc. I respected Reinhard because he didn't post anything until he had been at it 4 years. But I'm still surprised that your body reacted as it did. so fast. I've never "met" anyone who could be so disciplined in her experiments with eating. The doctor didn't know who he was dealing with when he implied you lied. I did go on Amazon and wrote to a few commenters who had reviewed the book, glowing with their quick loss, more than two years ago. One wrote back that she has indeed kept the weight off and is living at quite a low weight. Good for her! but she is still an exception. as are all of us who've maintained any significant loss.

On Apr 15, 2014 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Hi oolala, There are some unexplored areas of the 5-bite diet that still hold my interest, and I plan to do some future longer-term experimentation ...implementing a few modifications in order to make the plan a better fit for me. I find it refreshing to see a Plan ignore the no-one-should-ever-eat-under-1200-calories dogma. It is so annoying when doctors, nutritionists and other medical professionals discount the information that their obese patients give them. Even though the data clearly shows that the BMR/RMR are averages only, and the studies on which the formulas are based clearly show that drastic and dramatic differences exist between people of the same age and same size, the Charted BMR/RMR numbers are treated as the Ultimate and Absolute Truth for everyone. Recently I heard a podcast from a weight-loss "expert" who stated that 19 out of 20 people have EXACTLY the BMR that the charts give; and out of those 19, the people who don't lose weight on those calorie recommendations are under reporting or actually lying about their food intake. She went on to say that the 1 person who might not lose weight "the way everyone else does" because of hormonal or genetic differences simply needs to go to the doctor and get that problem fixed. ... Right! Like there's a FIX available for EVERY medical problem in existence. So MANY medical people actually believe that drival...I could go on and on. ..**** I think the thing to remember about Dr. Lewis of the 5-bite diet, is he actually BELIEVES that Everyone can get fast, easy, and permanent weight-loss results from eating just a small amount of food, and he doesn't acknowledge or accept the generally accepted 3500 calories equal 1 fat pound theory. His Burbank, Ca medical practice deals with many patients who are involved in the entertainment industry, and his acceptance and approval of extreme thinness, together with severe calorie restriction is part of the basis for his career success. I understand that he was recently taped for an upcoming segment of the Dr. Oz show, and I'll be interested in watching for that, and watching to see what, if any, results follow from National exposure.

On Jun 19, 2014 julian.shore wrote:
If anyone is interested, my best friend is doing the 5 bite diet. She's lost 6 pounds since Monday and started a blog to see her progress until she reaches her goal weight and also exactly what it will be like when she returns to eating normal.

On Jun 20, 2014 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Thank you julian, that does look interesting. I've bookmarked the page, and will visit occasionally to watch her progress.

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