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The Hilton Head metabolism diet was created by Peter M. Miller, PhD, who believes that a dieter’s metabolism can be increased by eating five small meals a day and getting the correct amount and type exercise. This increase in metabolism will help allow the dieter to lose weight.


The Hilton Head metabolism diet was created by Peter M. Miller. Miller was born on October 5, 1942. He attended the University of Maryland, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1964. He then attended the University of South Carolina, from which he received a master’s degree in 1966 and a doctoral degree in 1968, both in psychology. He is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and in the College of Graduate studies, at the Medical University of South Carolina. He is also the education coordinator of the Alcohol Research Center at the same institution.

Miller’s writings on a variety of subjects have been published in many scholarly journals. In addition to publishing studies looking at saturated fat intake, binge eating, and weight loss intervention programs, he also studies alcoholism and other addiction behaviors. He is the editor of the journals Addictive Behaviors, and Eating Behaviors, and is on the editorial board of


Diabetes mellitus—A condition in which the body either does not make or cannot respond to the hormone insulin. As a result, the body cannot use glucose (sugar). There are two types, type 1 or juvenile onset and type 2 or adult onset.

Dietary supplement—A product, such asa vitamin, mineral, herb, amino acid, or enzyme, that is intended to be consumed in addition to an individual’s diet with the expectation that it will improve health.

Mineral—An inorganic substance found in the earth that is necessary in small quantities for the body to maintain a health. Examples: zinc, copper, iron.

Vitamin—A nutrient that the body needs in small amounts to remain healthy but that the body cannot manufacture for itself and must acquire through diet.

many other journals. He is board certified in clinical psychology.

In 1979, Miller founded what is now known as the Hilton Head Health Instituteon Hilton Head Islandin South Carolina. The institute is a weight loss and lifestyle modification retreat and spa where dieters can go to lose weight and learn new health and wellness skills. The Hilton Head metabolism diet was created by Miller using information and insights that he gained through helping dieters at the institute. Miller was the executive director of the institute until 2000.

The Hilton Head metabolism diet first appeared as a book of the same in 1983. The book was extremely popular and since then Miller has published additional books targeted at specific groups, including The Hilton Head Over-35 Diet and The Hilton Head Diet for Children and Teenagers. In 1996 he published an updated version of his original book, called The New Hilton Head Metabolism Diet.


The Hilton Head metabolism diet aims to increase a dieter’s base metabolic rate. By doing this its intent is to not only help the dieter lose weight while on the diet, but to make weight maintenance easier for the dieter in the future. Miller says that 70% of the calories that a person burns each day are burned through metabolic processes, and only the other 30% are burned through exercise and activity. Metabolic activity is all of the processes that are required to support life, such as the processes necessary for temperature regulation, digestion, making new cells, breaking down products for use by the body, and creating proteins and other necessary substances. All of these processes require energy that is acquired each day from food. If not enough food is eaten to supply the body’s energy needs, the body looks for energy elsewhere, such as in the form of stored fat.

Miller believes that because such a large percentage of caloric expenditure comes from metabolic activity, weight loss can be achieved more effectively through increased metabolism than through increased exercise alone. This diet is intended to help dieters raise their metabolic rates leading to increased calorie usage, which in turn can lead to weight loss through the burning of fat stores as energy.

An important aspect of this diet is that Miller provides psychological and emotional help to dieters that may have been struggling for many years with their weight, and who may feel uncomfortable or ashamed about their weight or appearance. He tells dieters that it is not their fault that they are overweight, and that they should not allow others to put them down. He says that although overweight people do not usually have metabolisms that are abnormal, they do often have metabolisms that are slow compared to the metabolisms of thinner people. This is why it is so important for overweight people to change their metabolism if they are going to lose weight, and keep it off.

The diet plan consists of a six week weight loss phase followed by a two week weight maintenance phase. This eight week plan can be repeated as many times as necessary until the desired weight loss has been achieved. Miller suggests that at first dieters aim to lose 10% of their body weight, especially very overweight dieters, because it is through this first amount of weight loss that the greatest health benefits are often seen.

Miller provides meal plans and recipes to go along with this diet. During the weight loss phase the dieter is limited to what amounts to about 1000 calories per day. On the weekends, however, the dieter is allowed an increased caloric consumption, usually about 200 to 250 more calories each day than during the week. During the weight maintenance phase the dieter is allowed a number of calories based on various personal needs.

The Hilton Head metabolism diet recommends that dieters walk for 20 minutes, two times each day. Three times each week a set of strength training exercises should be done in place of one of the walks. Miller also recommends that dieters may want to take a multivitamin and a calcium supplement while on this diet.


The Hilton Head metabolism diet is intended to help dieters lose weight by increasing their base metabolic rate. The six weeks of weight loss followed by two weeks of weight maintenance can be repeated as many times as necessary for the desired amount of weight loss to be achieved.

It is intended to also be a lifestyle changing plan that provides recommendations for exercise and helpful information to help dieters who might be feeling upset about their weight. A long-lasting purpose of this diet is that the increase in the dieter’s metabolism is supposed to make weight control easier in the future.


There are many benefits to weight loss and increased fitness. There are many diseases and conditions for which obesity if considered a risk factor, including type II diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Generally the more overweight a person is, the higher his or her risk of developing these and other diseases is, and the more severe the symptoms will be. Weight loss, if achieved at a moderate pace through a healthy diet and regular exercise, can reduce these risks. Regular exercise, even just in the form of walking, can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases.

An additional benefit of the Hilton Head metabolism diet is that it may be easier for dieters to stick to than some other diets. The diet provides meal plans which allow the dieter to choose among various recipes. There are many opportunities for the dieter to choose foods, such as vegetables, each day, as long as the dieter follows the guidelines of the meal plan. This opportunity to choose the foods that are eaten during the day may help dieters feel that they are in control of


  • Is this diet the best diet to meet my goals?
  • At what level of intensity is it appropriate for me to begin exercising?
  • Does this diet pose any special risk for me?
  • Would a multivitamin or other dietary supplement be appropriate for me if I were to begin this diet?
  • Is this diet appropriate for my entire family?
  • Is it safe for me to follow this diet over a long period of time?
  • Are there any sign or symptoms that might indicate a problem while on this diet?

their diet, and means that dieters can eat foods that they enjoy and are not required to eat too much of any one type of food. The addition of more calories and food choices to the diet on the weekends not only can provide extra calories needed for any extra activity done on the weekends, but can make the diet easier to follow by providing treats to look forward to each week. The maintenance phase also allows dieters to eat increased calories, and this can also help dieters stick to the weight! loss phase by giving them something to look towards.


Anyone beginning a new diet should consult a physician or other medical professional. Daily requirements of calories, vitamins, minerals and other substances can vary from person to person depending on age, weight, gender, activity level, and the presence of certain diseases and conditions. A physician can help the dieter determine what his or her specific requirements are. Diets that prescribe a certain amount and type of food to be eaten each day may not fit all dieters well. Working with a doctor can help a dieter ensure that he or she will stay healthy while working to achieve weight loss goals.

Research and general acceptance

There may be some evidence that the Hilton Head metabolism diet does promote long term weight loss. A study that was done by the University of South Carolina showed that almost 70% of people who had lost weight while at the Hilton Head Health Institute had kept the weight off when they were contacted later. Although the people studied did not follow the Hilton Head metabolism diet as laid out in Miller’s book, and had attended the Institute as residents, the ideas underlying the two programs are similar.

The role of metabolism in weight regulation is controversial in some ways, and agreed upon in other ways. The higher a person’s base metabolism the more calories that person will burn during the day. A person with a higher base metabolic rate will be able to take in more calories throughout the day without gaining weight than someone with a lower base metabolic rate. However, the link between metabolism and obesity is not yet completely understood. Some studies show that a lower metabolism is correlated with obesity, but as with many issues that are complex, not all studies show exactly the same thing, and it can often be unclear which problem is the underlying cause of the issue and which is a symptom or outcome.

The United States Department of Agriculture makes recommendations in its MyPyramid food guide. These recommendations specify how many servings from each food group are needed daily for good health. Any diet that generally follows these guidelines and provides a minimum number of calories each day is generally considered appropriate for healthy weight loss. There is some debate about how many calories each day are a minimum requirement for good health. Because the requirement depends so heavily on age, weight, sex, and activity level it is not generally possible to make a broad recommendation for every dieter. In 2007, the United States Centers for Disease Control recommended 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise each day for good health. Walking is considered an excellent form of this type of exercise. Following the Hilton Head metabolism diet plan and walking for 20 minutes two times a day would exceed these minimum recommendations. Many studies have shown that exercise and diet are more effective at helping dieters achieve weight loss when done in combination than either is when done alone.


Miller, Peter M. The Hilton Head Metabolism Diet: Revised for the 1990’s and Beyond New York: Warner Books, 1996.

Miller, Peter M. The Hilton Head Diet for Children and Teenagers: The safe and effective program that helps your child overcome weight problems for good! New York: Warner Books, 1993.

Miller, Peter M. The Hilton Head Over-35 Diet New York: Warner Books, 1990.

Shannon, Joyce Brennfleck ed. Diet and Nutrition Source-book. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 2006.

Willis, Alicia P. ed. Diet Therapy Research Trends. New York: Nova Science, 2007.


American Dietetic Association. 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000, Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995. Telephone: (800) 877-1600. Website: <>.


Hilton Head Health Institute 2007. <> (April 5, 2007).

Helen M. Davidson.