The New Hilton Head Metabolism Diet

Revised for the 1990's and Beyond


By Dr. Peter M. Miller

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Despite an increasing interest in health, a growing number of people in this country are overweight. In this updated edition, Dr. Miller incorporates the newest scientific findings to teach readers how to lose weight permanently. Inlcudes all-new menu plans based on new foods and new research.



Copyright © 1996 by Dr. Peter M. Miller

All rights reserved.

Cover design by Rachel McClain

Book design by H. Roberts

Hachette Book Group

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A Time Warner Company

First eBook Edition: June, 1996

The "Warner Books" name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

ISBN: 978-0-446-55123-6


I am greatly indebted to my staff at the Hilton Head Health Institute for their continuing contributions to the content of the New Hilton Head Metabolism Diet. I would especially like to acknowledge the assistance of my wife, Gay, as well as Robert Wright, Fran Gerthoffer, Erich Striegel, and Dr. Roger Sargent in the preparation of this book.

I am particularly grateful to the thousands of men and women who have participated in our programs at the Hilton Head Health Institute and who continue to share their success stories with us.

Chapter 1


If you've tried every new diet developed over the past few years, only to gain your weight back again, you are definitely not alone. Perhaps, more recently, you joined the antidieting movement and found your weight problem getting worse with each passing day. Or you may have adopted a healthier lifestyle by lowering the amount of fat you eat, only to find that you still have trouble losing weight and keeping it off.

If any of these problems describe your battle of the bulge, you are more typical than you realize. You likely feel frustrated and depressed about your weight and simply don't know where to turn.

Your failures are not your fault. You've just been going about it the wrong way. I want you now to forget everything you've ever learned about dieting. I'm going to give you a system of weight control that gives you a fighting chance. One that has helped over a million men and women throughout the world. That's how many people purchased my previous book, The Hilton Head Metabolism Diet.

This version, The New Hilton Head Metabolism Diet, is an improved diet based on the most recent research available. This is not simply another diet but a totally new frame of reference. It is based on the premise that your weight problem is not due simply to a lack of willpower. Overweight is a complex biological, metabolic, and nutritional disease that requires a specially designed, comprehensive treatment plan. That's right. You must begin to think of your weight problem as a chronic disease. All the latest research points to this conclusion, and it is important for you to remember it.

Your problem is not just a matter of eating too much but of not burning enough calories. While exercise is an important part of the solution, you actually burn 70 percent of all your calories each day through metabolism and only 30 percent through physical activity. That's why having a sluggish metabolism makes weight control so difficult. Unless you attack your basic problem of metabolic suppression no diet will ever help you.


Twenty years ago I founded what has become one of the top health resorts in the world. Unlike a spa, my Hilton Head Health Institute is noted for its professional, scientifically based treatment programs and has served as the proving grounds for the Hilton Head Metabolism Diet.

Even before I started the institute, I had become frustrated by the failure of many of my patients to lose weight. Some would stick strictly to a diet but still prove unable to lose much weight. Others would lose but regain the lost weight within two or three months. It amazed me how people on exactly the same diet and exercise program could differ so much in the results they achieved.

To find a new approach I began listening more closely to my patients' complaints:

"My friend Sally eats anything she wants and never gains an ounce. I can gain six pounds in a holiday weekend."

"But, Doctor, even when I do lose weight, it's a constant struggle to keep from gaining it back. Slim people don't seem to have the same problem."

"I just can't lose weight as easily as other people. Maybe it's my thyroid."

Like many of my colleagues, I assured these people that their problem was not glandular. They simply ate too much. I might even have suspected a complaining patient of trying to use metabolism as an excuse for cheating on the diet.

Fortunately, I began to pay more attention to these complaints. I took them more seriously and began to investigate the differences in individuals' ability to control their weight. I started by examining the records of my patients over the previous years, comparing their eating, exercise, and weight patterns with those of slim people. Next I compiled the results of every major research study comparing weight regulation, eating, exercise, and metabolism in overweight and nonoverweight individuals.

As a result of these investigations, I departed radically from traditional ideas about dieting. I'm now very pleased that I did, because my program has helped so many people over the years.

The evidence in favor of the Hilton Head Metabolism Diet is impressive. The research studies have been there all along. In fact, over the past ten years since the diet was originally developed, more and more experts have come to agree that metabolism is the major key to unlocking the weight control puzzle. I'm pleased to see the evidence mounting to support my ideas, which several years ago were considered controversial.

Study after study verifies the fact that you are overweight because of your failure to burn calories efficiently through metabolism. In most cases, your metabolism is not abnormal, just sluggish. The New Hilton Head Metabolism Diet is designed not merely to help you lose weight but to enable you to change your body chemistry so that weight control becomes easier. In a moment I will explain why you don't burn as many calories as a slim person does and what you can do about it.


So stop feeling guilty and frustrated. Your difficulty in regulating your weight is not due to laziness or gluttony. You were right all along: You do gain weight more easily than slim people. You've been telling people this for years, but they haven't been listening to you. Well, I believe you, and I have evidence to prove the "experts" wrong and you right. Your burden of carrying all that extra weight and taking the blame is over.

I don't want you ever to feel guilty again or let anyone else make you feel guilty about your weight. Doctors, spouses, and friends simply don't understand, especially if they are slim. You don't have to accept the blame anymore. I'm going to liberate you from all this frustration.


Once you begin my plan you'll realize how different an approach it is to controlling your weight. It's like discovering a medicine that has just been developed to help you manage your chronic disease.

Like those who have already benefited from the Hilton Head Metabolism Diet, you will soon experience the fact that my new system:

•  Stimulates your ability to burn fat by naturally increasing your metabolic rate

•  Tunes your metabolic engine so that you bum more calories without added effort

•  Encourages you to eat more meals rather than less

•  Gives you three easy-to-prepare, well-balanced daily meals and two healthful snacks that completely satisfy your appetite

•  Allows you to vary your calorie intake each weekend and thus avoid feelings of food deprivation and dietary boredom

•  Provides you with an easy-to-follow exercise plan that fits in to your daily routine and variations in your schedule

•  Changes your body composition so that you become firm, trim, and less flabby

•  Changes your body chemistry so that you can more easily manage your weight


The New Hilton Head Metabolism Diet not only makes sense, it really works. Over the past ten years, since the original diet has been available to the general public, I have received a flood of letters and telephone calls from successful dieters around the world. Of course, these success stories are too numerous to detail, but I will share with you two recent letters that are typical. The first was from a twenty-nine-year-old woman who had learned of my diet from a good friend of hers who had lost 25 pounds on the Hilton Head plan. The very next day she and her mother bought my book and started dieting. She went on to say, "To my amazement I lost 5 pounds the first week and 4 pounds the second week. I only expected to go back to my old size 12, but I went from 160 pounds (5 feet 5 inches tall), wearing a size 14, to 151 pounds, wearing a size 10." She now weighs 144 pounds and is in a size 8, a size she says she hasn't been able to wear since age ten! She is also delighted by the fact that she has more energy than she's had in years.

The other letter was from a sixty-seven-year-old man who admitted that his wife had been waving my book in his face for several years and he had done his best to ignore her. He eventually relented and set a goal for himself to lose 40 pounds. He achieved his goal twelve weeks later and wrote that his waist size dropped from 46 inches to 38 and that his blood pressure was down to textbook numbers for his age. He added, "There is no way 1 can ever let myself get overweight again, as long as 1 have your metabolism diet book. Actually, it's hard to call it a diet since I was never really overly hungry at any time."

I also see the diet work almost every day with clients at my Hilton Head Health Institute. In fact, an independent study conducted by the University of South Carolina showed that almost 70 percent of our clients were still maintaining their weight losses at long-term follow-up contacts.

The statistics surrounding cholesterol reduction on the diet are equally impressive. A recent study of our clients, published in the scientific journal The Bariatrician, found an average drop of 34 mg in total cholesterol after only two weeks on the diet.

These results prove that the New Hilton Head Metabolism Diet is no fly-by-night, fad program. It is based on sound theories and has been tested for many years on people just like you. Many of these people had given up on ever being able to manage their weight. It worked for them, and it can work for you too.

Chapter 2


The first widespread notion I attacked in developing my plan was that people are overweight because they eat too much. This idea is at the very heart of every diet available. So-called experts think that fat people eat too much because of gluttony, emotional problems, oral needs, or lack of willpower. To this I say, "Nonsense!"

My first rule for you to remember is:


I don't make this statement lightly. An overwhelming number of recent studies support my view. Of course, you might eat ravenously some of the time, but so do slim people. The number of calories you eat cannot account for the difference between your weight and that of a slim friend.

If overeating were the major problem then, other factors being equal, two people eating the same low-calorie diet should lose about the same amount of weight. But, your own experience tells you, this just doesn't happen. Several months ago I saw two nearly identical patients. Both women were in their thirties, five feet five inches tall, and weighed 140 pounds. Neither exercised, and both were very inactive. On a 700-calorie-a-day diet, one lost 6 pounds in three weeks, while the other lost 14 pounds. Both were in a controlled residential program in which dietary meals were carefully portioned out and cheating was not possible. Based on standard notions of overeating as a cause of obesity, these women should have lost the same amount of weight.

Individual differences also show up in nutritional research on overeating. In several studies people have been asked to eat two to three times their usual amount of food to see what happens to their weight. Overweight people who do this gain weight very quickly—as much as 20 pounds in two weeks. Normal-weight and slim people rarely gain more than 5 or 6 pounds.

Well, if overeating is not the problem, then what is? I can answer that in one word—metabolism.


To understand metabolism, think of your body as a furnace. Food is the fuel that supplies energy to run the furnace. The amount of energy in the food you eat is measured in calories. So you eat calories each day to keep your furnace running. Your furnace burns calories through a process known as metabolism.

Metabolism is simply the energy required to keep you alive. It refers to the number of calories of food energy your body burns to maintain vital functions such as heart rate, brain activity, and digestion. Even if you were in a coma and never moved a muscle, your body would need to bum calories for energy. Generally speaking, metabolism (also known as basal metabolism or resting metabolism) refers to the number of calories your body is burning at rest— when you're not moving or doing anything. Exercise and physical activity also help you burn calories.

All this information can be expressed more simply by means of an energy equation:

Input (calories from food)=Output (calories burned from metabolism and activity)

When all the fuel that enters your body is burned up, you maintain your normal weight. Excess fuel that is not burned is stored as fat. If you don't burn all the calories you eat, you will end up with an excess amount of fat.

Since fat people don't eat more than slim people, the cause of overweight must lie in the Output side of the equation. That's exactly right. Fat people do not burn as much fuel (as many calories) as slim people do.

This is my second rule for you to remember:


Now, you may ask, is this due to problems in metabolism or to a lack of physical activity? It may actually be a combination of both, but it is primarily due to insufficient burning of calories through metabolism. While many overweight people don't get enough exercise, the same can be said of many slim people. There are simply not enough differences in the physical activity levels of fat and slim people to explain weight problems.


Before you jump to conclusions, let me assure you that there is nothing abnormal about your metabolism. More than 95 percent of overweight people have a normal thyroid, the gland that controls the number of calories your body burns to keep you alive. Rushing to your doctor to get thyroid supplements won't help. In fact, as I will describe later, taking these hormone supplements when you don't need them will do your metabolism more harm than good.

While your metabolism is not abnormal, it definitely is sluggish and inefficient. You suffer from what I call metabolic suppression.

To understand this concept, let's go back to the idea of your body as a furnace. Everyone has a basic, standard level at which he or she burns fuel. This basal metabolism varies from person to person. The average basal metabolism for women is between 1000 and 1500 calories a day—that many calories are burned each day to sustain life. Men have a higher basal metabolism, ranging from 1400 to 1900 calories per day.

In addition to this base level, the rate at which you burn calories fluctuates throughout the day depending on various conditions. For example, your basal metabolism is stimulated when you eat, when the climate changes, and when you exercise. It's like a thermostat automatically turning up the furnace in response to fuel coming in, to any drop in temperature, and to increased energy demand.

If your thermostat is working properly, you have a highly efficient metabolism. Your base rate of, say, 1400 calories will be stimulated several times throughout the day, and you will burn off an extra 400 to 500 calories during each twenty-four-hour period.

People suffering from metabolic suppression often have two problems. First, they are usually at the lower end of the average range of basal metabolism. Second, and even more crucial, their thermostats are defective. Not only do they burn fewer calories, but they do not have the periodic increases in metabolic rate throughout the day. The furnace does not respond to stimulation. Simply, it stays at a low level, regardless of changes in the body or in the environment.

Because of metabolic suppression, a woman could have a base level of only 1100 calories per day and show very slight increases in metabolism—from 50 to 100 calories—during the day. The result could be disastrous. As many as 500 calories of food per day would not be burned off as it should be. That may riot seem like a lot, but it adds up to 3500 calories per week, 15,000 calories per month, and 182,500 calories per year. You gain one pound of fat every time your body fails to burn an extra 3500 calories. That means you would gain one pound each week, four or five pounds each month, and more than fifty pounds in a year! A slim person with an efficient metabolism can eat the same number of calories as you and not gain an ounce.

Don't get discouraged, I'm going to show you how to change your metabolism, to fix your thermostat so that you burn more calories. You can do it, as long as you follow my plan. Once your body chemistry has been improved, once you release your metabolism to do what it was intended to do, you'll never have a weight problem again. Just think, you'll be like all those slim friends of yours. People will be looking enviously at you and saying, "You're one of those naturally slim people. You can eat and not gain weight."

Now that you know what your problem is, you're likely wondering why you have metabolic suppression.

Chapter 3


Research tells us that the reasons why you gain weight more easily than others is very complex, probably more complex than we ever realized before. Based on our current knowledge, your metabolism may be defective for the following reasons.


We know for sure that certain genetic factors determine whether you will be more prone to fatness than someone else. Just as a tendency to develop high blood pressure or diabetes runs in families, so does the chance of becoming overweight.

If neither of your parents is overweight, you stand about a 20 to 25 percent chance of becoming an overweight adult. If one parent is overweight, your chances double to 40 percent. If your mother and father are too heavy, there is an 80 percent chance that you will be, too.

More evidence on this hereditary link comes from studies of twins. Identical twins who have been adopted by different parents and raised apart from each other are a good test of whether biology or environment is more important in determining body weight. When these children with the same genetic makeup but different family settings grow up, they tend to weigh about the same as each other. Furthermore, their body weights correspond more to those of their biological parents than to their adoptive parents.

In 1993, researchers at Rockerfeller University in New York discovered a genetic mutation in obese mice that interferes with proper metabolism and keeps the brain from knowing when to send the signal to stop eating. Although the media headlines declared the discovery of the obesity or "fat" gene with a possible "cure" just around the corner, nothing could be further from the truth.

First, whether this gene works the same way in humans as in mice has yet to be proved. The practical application of this will take years and years of research. Second, the genetics of obesity is a complicated one because the transmission appears to be of a polygenic nature. Polygenic refers to the fact that a characteristic (such as being overweight) is linked to more than one gene, whereas a monogenic trait is linked to only one gene. The unraveling of the mystery of metabolism and overweight will require the discovery of several genes and how they interact to cause this problem. Unfortunately, there is no one fat gene that will lead to a cure.

Another important factor has to do with "critical stages" of fat-cell development. Given the tendency to be overweight, your eating habits during certain critical times in your life may be more important than how much you eat at other times. Overeating especially in infancy and in adolescence leads to an increase in the number of fat cells in your body—-fat cells that will always be with you. In addition, women develop more fat cells during pregnancy, which may be why so many trace the history of their weight problems to their childbearing years.

The number of fat cells in your body is important because the more fat cells you have, the greater your chances of gaining weight. Normally, when you gain weight your fat cells get bigger in size, and when you lose weight they get smaller. Unless you are in one of the "critical stages" (infancy, adolescence, or pregnancy), you will not develop any additional fat cells. However, the more fat cells you have, the more will be able to get bigger if you eat too much.

Please don't take all this to mean that if your parents were fat you will automatically be fat and there is nothing you can do about it. I am just presenting the facts and giving reasons why you have more trouble with your weight than some other people do.

In spite of your heredity, you can manage and control this "disease." 1 can't promise that you'll ever be like the person who eats anything and never gains weight. But you can be successful as long as you follow my program. We can tune your metabolic engine so that it works more efficiently.


Other factors such as gender and body size are also important. For example, women have a lower metabolism than men. People who are smaller in height and stature have a lower metabolic rate than taller, larger people. I'll go into more detail on these factors later, but for now just realize that your metabolism may be the way it is because of how tall you are or whether you are male or female. This doesn't mean that your metabolism can't be changed. It simply demonstrates the need for getting on my program to change it.


It seems strange to suggest that dieting can make your metabolism sluggish, but it's true. Whenever you reduce the number of calories you eat, your body begins to turn down its furnace. The fewer the calories, the lower your metabolism. Your metabolic rate is reduced the most when you suddenly go on a very low-calorie diet or when you fast. Your body is actually fighting the weight loss process by burning fewer calories.

Why? The answer is quite simple. Our bodies are highly adaptive to change and are programmed not for dieting but for survival. When you eat very little or stop eating altogether, your body thinks you are starving. In terms of survival, starvation can eventually lead to death. So your body concludes: "In order to save my life I must conserve energy by burning as few calories as possible." To make matters worse, people who have a low metabolism to begin with show the biggest drop in metabolic rate during dieting.


The amount of fat in your diet is very much related to weight gain. It's not just how many calories you eat but how fatty those calories are. Your body turns fatty foods into body fat much faster than do other types of foods. So if you eat a lot of fried foods, fatty sauces, high-fat meats, chocolate, butter or margarine, or even salad dressing, you will see the effects on your body very quickly.

Once you have lost weight and are trying to maintain it, you must


On Sale
Nov 15, 2008
Page Count
249 pages