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The Jillian Michaels diet focuses on self, science, and sweat to help dieters achieve weight loss, toning, and increased health and fitness.


Jillian Michaels is best known as one of the stars of the popular television program “The Biggest Loser.” “The Biggest Loser” aired on NBC, and pitted two teams of significantly overweight individuals against each other to see who could lose the most weight. Jillian Michaels was the strength trainer and life coach for one of the teams of contestants. The strategies that she used to help her contestants lose weight are some of the techniques that inspired her diet and exercise program.

In addition to being a television personality, Jillian Michaels is also the co-owner of the Sky Sport and Spa fitness club in Beverly Hills, California. She is certified by two programs that certify personal trainers, the National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association, and the American Fitness Association of America. She also has been doing martial arts since the age of 14, and is experienced in Muay Thai and Akarui-Do, two forms of martial arts. She has achieved the status of black belt in Akarui-Do. Michaels believes that she brings a special understanding of the needs of people struggling with their weight to her program because she has not always been fit herself. At one time she reports that she was 50 pounds overweight. She used her own experiences becoming fit and healthy to help her design a program that would help other people reach their weight and fitness goals.


Jillian Michaels’ diet begins with a very basic premise. This premise is that for weight loss to occur calories going out have to be greater than calories coming in. Calories out include all calories lost through basic day to day activities and the calories burned providing energy to the body’s cells during the day. This base line caloric use is added to the number of calories that are burned during exercise. Calories in include all calories from any food and drink consumed during the day. To lose weight the calories out need to be greater than the calories coming in. This way fat will be broken down to provide the additional calories needed by the body.


Dietary supplement—A product, such as a 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.

Obese—More than 20% over the individual’s ideal weight for their height and age or having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater.

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.

The diet can be customized to allow a dieter to determine how many calories should be consumed each day based on how many calories are being expended during the day generally, how many are being used through exercise, and what a person’s specific weight loss goals are. A pound of fat is comprised of about 3500 calories. That means that to lose a pound each week a dieter would have to use up 3500 more calories than are taken in that week. Spread evenly thought the week this means that each day 500 more calories should be used than are taken in. So if a dieter calculates that he or she is using 2000 calories a day that person should consume 1500 each day to lose one pound per week.

Jillian Michaels breaks her diet down into three parts: self, science, and sweat. Each of these parts comprises one of the parts she feels is important for successful, long-term weight loss and better health. Her diet provides information, recommendations, and opportunities for the dieter to customize their program in each of these areas.

By “self” Michaels means all of the psychological and emotional issues and problems associated with eating, bad habits, and being overweight. She shares many of her own insights that she gained from when she was overweight, and ways that she managed to overcome her own problems.

Michaels focuses largely on ways to change problem behaviors. Problem behaviors include any kind of eating behaviors that stem from reasons other than hunger or necessary nutrition. These include eating when a person feels stressed or upset instead of when they are hungry. Michaels believes that it is important to identify and change these problem behaviors because these are often the reasons that people have difficulty controlling their calorie intake. She provides suggestions for ways to change these behaviors, and offers alternative ways to deal with the underlying issues such as stress. She also deals with issues like the emotional aspects of being overweight. Throughout all of her diet and exercise program she provides inspiration to help the dieter overcome any setbacks and find the inner force to keep going and meet their goals.

“Science” means information about basic nutrition and how the body uses food and calories. Michaels believes that the reason many diets do not work for most people is that they are general, and not designed to meet the individual needs of the dieter. To this end she believes that there are three different ways that people metabolize food, and that the diet cannot be successful unless it is specifically designed for the dieter’s metabolic type. The three types she identifies are fast oxidizers, slow oxidizers, and balanced oxidizers.

Michaels believes that dieters with different metabolic types need different combinations of fats, protein, and carbohydrate to make their meals the most efficient for that dieter. Fast oxidizers change the carbohydrates in their food to energy very quickly, and so tend to have spikes of blood sugar right after meals. Because of this Michaels says that people who are fast oxidizers should eat meals that have higher levels of protein and fats, which are converted to energy more slowly, and lower amounts of carbohydrates, so that the energy levels are more stable during the periods after and between meals.

Slow oxidizers are the opposite of fast oxidizers, and they have metabolisms that break down carbohydrates into energy very slowly. Michaels suggests that slow oxidizers should eat meals that contain large percentages of carbohydrates, and lower amounts of fats and proteins. Balanced oxidizers should eat balanced amounts of all three, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. This is because their metabolism converts food neither very quickly nor very slowly. Michaels provides a detailed quiz to determine what kind of metabolizer a dieter is so that menus can be customized effectively.

Michaels believes in a balanced combination of cardiovascular exercises and strength training. She suggests exercising for 60 minutes a day, with five minutes at the beginning and the end being used for stretching, warm up and cool down, and 50 minutes being used for the rigorous exercise. She provides many different exercises and routines that be customized for the fitness level of the dieter. She also provides information about how muscles work, what the main muscle groups are, and which exercises are best for training which areas of the body. Her exercises and routines draw from many different areas of fitness such as Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, weight lifting, and traditional aerobics. One aspect of her exercise routines that she finds very helpful to many dieters is that her exercises are designed to be done at home, and she says that there is no need to join a gym.


Jillian Michaels’ diet and exercise program is intended to allow people to lose weight, become more fit, and achieve better overall health and well being. She also intends it to give people the ability to feel better and more empowered in their daily lives as they take control of their weight, appearance, and health.


There are many benefits to losing weight and being more fit. The benefits of weight loss can be very significant, and are even greater for people who are the most obese. People who are obese are at higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and many other diseases and disorders. The risk and severity of these disorders is generally greater the more obese a person is. Weight loss, if achieved at a moderate pace through a healthy diet and regular exercise can reduce the risk of these and many other obesity-related diseases. Increased exercise can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases.


Anyone thinking of beginning a new diet and exercise regimen should consult a medical practitioner. Requirements of calories, fat, and nutrients can differ significantly from person to person, depending on gender, age, weight, and many other factors such as the presence of any disease or conditions. Pregnantor breastfeeding women should be especially cautious because deficiencies of vitamins or minerals


  • Is this diet the best diet to meet my goals?
  • At what level of intensity is it appropriate for me to begin exercising?
  • Does diet or exercise pose any special risk for me that I should be aware of?
  • 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?

can have a significant negative impact on a baby. Exercising too strenuously can cause injury, and exercise should be started gradually until the dieter knows what level of intensity is appropriate. It is especially important with this diet to remember that the contestants on “The Biggest Loser” did work out many hours a day and adhere to strict diets, and that although they lost a lot of weight in a relatively short amount of time this will not necessarily be the result for all dieters. Contenstants on the show were were closely monitored by physicians and other professionals, and had diet and exercise plans were specifically tailored to their dietary needs and level of fitness.


With any diet or exercise plan there are some risks. It is often difficult to get enough of some vitamins and minerals when eating a limited diet. Anyone beginning a diet may want to consult their physician about whether taking a vitamin or supplement might help them reduce this risk. Injuries can occur during exercise, such as strained or sprained muscles, and proper warm up and cool down procedures should be followed to minimize these risks. It is often best to begin with light or moderate exercise and increase the intensity slowly over weeks or months to minimize the risk of serious injury that could occur if strenuous exercise is begun suddenly and the body is not sufficiently prepared.

Research and general acceptance

Although this diet has not been studied specifically, limiting caloric intake, eating a diet low in fats and carbohydrates and high in vegetable and plant products is generally accepted as a healthy diet for most people. As of 2007 the U.S. Center for Disease Control recommended a minimum of 30 minutes per day of light to moderate exercise for healthy adults. Following Michael’s fitness and exercise program would exceed these minimum recommendation.


Michaels, Jillian. Making the Cut: The 30-day diet and fitness plan for the strongest, sexiest you. New York: Crown, 2007.

Michaels, Jillian. Winning by Losing: Drop the weight, change your life. New York: Collins, 2005.

Shannon, Joyce Brennfleck ed. Diet and Nutrition Source-book. Detriot, 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: <>.


Michaels, Jillian. “Jillian Michaels: Real Weight Loss for Real People.” Waterfront Media Inc. 2007. <> (March 20, 2007).

The Biggest Winner - How to Win by Losing: Cardio Kickbox. DVD. Genius Entertainment, 2005.

Helen Davidson.