Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Holford Low GL Diet: Lose Fat Fast Using the Revolutionary Fatburner System
  • Alternative view 1 of The Holford Low GL Diet: Lose Fat Fast Using the Revolutionary Fatburner System
  • Alternative view 2 of The Holford Low GL Diet: Lose Fat Fast Using the Revolutionary Fatburner System

The Holford Low GL Diet: Lose Fat Fast Using the Revolutionary Fatburner System

by Patrick Holford

1. Eat no more than 40 GLs a day
2. Eat protein with carbohydate

The Holford Low GL Diet
At its heart, one controlling principle:
If you lose blood sugar control, you gain weight and feel hungry and tired.
If you gain blood sugar control, you lose weight and feel happy and full of energy.


1. Eat no more than 40 GLs a day
2. Eat protein with carbohydate

The Holford Low GL Diet
At its heart, one controlling principle:
If you lose blood sugar control, you gain weight and feel hungry and tired.
If you gain blood sugar control, you lose weight and feel happy and full of energy.

When you balance your blood sugar, you'll lose weight fast.

With The Holford Low GL Diet you will beat your cravings! You'll enjoy delicious meals, choosing from a wide variety of energy-boosting foods and simple menu plans. The diet is safe and easy to follow, and includes a nutritional supplementation plan to increase your energy and decrease your appetite.

Tried and tested by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, The Holford Low GL Diet is based on the latest medical and nutritional research, made totally accessible. Discover how easy it is to reprogram your body to burn your fat away.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Patrick Holford is one of the world's leading authorities on new approaches to health and nutrition."

Daily Mail

"The diet to end all diets."


Product Details

Atria Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt


Why the Holford Diet Works

Imagine this.

You've just woken up. You feel full of energy. Your mind is clear. You get up, have a healthy breakfast and, throughout the day, your energy is good, your mood is stable, you're mentally sharp, and your concentration is good. You haven't experienced a single craving. You haven't had energy dips or gotten cranky and irritable.

But that's just the inside story. You also look great. Your weight is more or less where you want it to be. You're well toned. Your skin has a healthy glow. People often comment on how slim and well you look and how young you look for your age. You feel young, both physically and mentally. And this is how you feel every day!

Welcome to the new you. This is not only how you could be, this is how you should be. More important, it's how you will be when you follow the Holford Diet. And all it takes to see a dramatic difference is 30 days.

I realize that you may have spent the last decade trudging through a succession of diets with nothing to show for it but a slimmed-down bank balance and more fat than you started with. Every bookstore bristles with "miracle" weight-loss techniques and "guaranteed" recipes for everything from longevity to cellulite control. So I know you may be feeling cheated by claims and promises that have never panned out. Why, then, should you believe what I'm saying?

You can be thin and healthy

This is why. The Holford Diet works because it is much more than just a way to lose weight. It is a holistic system for attaining optimum health — and a healthy, self-regulating body is naturally slim.

The fact is that many of the people who discover my diet, follow it, and write to me reporting substantial weight loss didn't set off to lose weight in the first place. They wanted to be healthy and thought the optimum nutrition approach made sense. And, as their health improved, the pounds dropped off. Optimum health, they found, also means optimum weight.

The body will naturally reach its ideal weight given the chance. You'll eat less if your blood sugar is stable, and your metabolism will be better able to burn off excess weight.

I have yet to see any diet work better in the long run than this approach. I teach doctors, healthcare practitioners, and nutritionists all over the world, but none is as slim, energetic, and healthy as the thousand nutritionists we have trained at ION — the Institute for Optimum Nutrition.

At ION, decades of work with more than 100,000 volunteers first revealed how overall health determines weight, by showing that overweight is a symptom of a much wider condition. We sometimes call it "21st-century-itis."

Exhaustion, moodiness, depression, bloating — 21st-century-itis is a response to our polluted, urbanized, speeded-up world, and overweight is a common symptom.

The reality of being, say, tired all day, uncomfortably overweight, and feeling ill is no joke. Remember, though, that all this could change in just 30 days. Your load could be significantly lightened. And three months on the Holford Diet will leave you completely free of these symptoms, as well as up to 28 pounds lighter.

A diet for life

The point is that we already know how to cure 21st-century-itis, and that is my goal for you. I want you to lose weight fast, keep losing weight until you reach your goal, and maintain your weight once you get there — but always within the context of optimum energy and well-being. This is what you can look forward to:

• Within 7 days you will start to lose pounds as quickly as you'll gain energy.

• Within 20 days you'll notice your skin has dramatically improved.

• Within 30 days you'll be starting to feel like a new you.

• And within three months? You will have seriously undamaged your health.

Of course, if you just want to lose weight there are plenty of ways to do it. I've studied them all. I was there with the rise and fall of the F Plan Diet, the Hip & Thigh Diet, the Atkins Diet, and many others. I advised Rosemary Conley as I believed her diets were dangerously low in essential fats. I challenged Dr. Atkins when the science just didn't seem to add up.

I know the pros and cons of all of them. I know why high-protein diets work better for some but not for others, and don't work in the long run. I've tested Atkins dieters and I believe that his regime can actually seriously damage health. I know why you can lose weight on low-fat diets, only to end up with dry and wrinkly skin. I know why most diets leave you exhausted. Most of all, I know why the pounds you lose keep coming back!

For me to get excited about a diet that claims to be successful, it must fulfill the following criteria:

It works in both the short and the long term

Instant results may be thrilling, but they're usually not sustained. The body can't burn more than 2 pounds of actual fat in a week, unless you go into starvation mode. I look for a steady loss of 6 to 10 pounds a month, or 28 pounds in three months, or 112 pounds in a year — if you've got that much to lose — with no rebound weight gain. That said, you can lose up to 6 pounds of excess water if you're eating foods to which you've developed an intolerance. That's why some people lose 7 pounds in the first week of the Holford Diet.

You never feel hungry

If a diet leaves you feeling famished, you won't stick to it. So from day one it has to satisfy your appetite. The Holford Diet specifically recommends the foods scientifically proven to best satisfy your appetite, and I'm going to tell you exactly which those foods are.

It's enjoyable

If you can't eat a wide variety of foods or have to actively avoid eating certain food groups, a diet will start to feel boring very fast, and it will be neither enjoyable nor sustainable. The framework of my diet, the Fatburner System, allows a cornucopia of delectable foods containing good fats, protein, and carbohydrates. You'll be able to eat bread and pasta, mayonnaise, meat — the works. You'll just pay more attention to quality and quantity.

It's safe

I'm not interested in helping people lose weight by cheating the body. Sure, you can lose weight with diet pills, or by cutting out all carbohydrates, but it just isn't good for you and, in the end, crime doesn't pay. The only side effect I want you to experience is improved health.

It makes you feel great

If a diet is working with the body's design, not against it, you should start to feel better, with more energy, improved mood and concentration, and better skin within days.

There's no rebound weight gain

You can lose weight by massively restricting food intake — but the body thinks it's gone into starvation mode and slows down your metabolism. So, as soon as you start eating enough for your needs, the pounds boomerang back. The same is true of stimulants such as caffeine. They can suppress your appetite so you can lose weight in the short term, but in the end they slow down your metabolism. As you'll see, these can give short-term weight loss, but rebound weight gain.

It's easy to follow

At the end of the day, if a diet becomes as easy and natural as breathing, you'll stick to it for life. So, if the food is delicious, is easy to find and prepare, and leaves you satisfied and feeling wonderful, you're far more likely to make it part of your life.

The word from the weight-loss trenches

The Holford Diet scores 10 out of 10 for each of these criteria. But you don't have to take just my word for it. Here are the stories of a handful of the many thousands who have followed the Fatburner System.

Linda H. was just 5 feet, 2 inches tall, but had gradually expanded sideways in her twenties. She had tried every diet under the sun and finally settled on WeightWatchers, with some success. She had been a member of WeightWatchers for five years and had managed, with much sacrifice, to get down to and maintain a weight of 122 pounds. But she found she couldn't get below this. She wasn't quite at the right weight for her and it was a frustrating impasse. Then she discovered the Fatburner System:

On your diet I began to lose weight at once. Within 30 days I came down to 8 stone 4 [116 pounds] — a thing I thought impossible! However, I was totally unprepared for the new energy levels. I cannot believe how marvelous I feel — I am no longer tired no matter what I do or how active I am. I have stopped falling asleep at odd moments when I relax. I no longer feel bloated and tired after eating. Your diet has changed my life!

Carol P. had been gradually gaining weight, year after year. When she turned 60 she realized her weight was out of control:

I felt too fat and it was hard to bend over and tie the laces on my walking boots. I was getting out of breath going up hills and I started to worry about that. I decided to do your diet and the exercises. I cut out nearly all wheat, ate mainly oat porridge for breakfast, and cut out biscuits [cookies] and cakes. I also cut out caffeine, had less alcohol — just the odd glass of wine. I lost 30 pounds steadily over six months. Also, my stomach used to really stick out! It doesn't do that anymore. I think wheat was making me bloat. Now I have wheat occasionally, but not every day.

What I liked about your approach is the understanding of the human psyche and the reality of living. You don't have to be a total puritan and you don't get hungry. If I were hungry, I'd have a piece of fruit. What I needed was a diet for life. I'm not so strict now on the exercise, but still generally follow the dietary principles. I definitely feel a lot better. I like the way my body looks. I have more energy. I feel happy and my mood is more even. I will have no problem staying on this general routine for life.

Wayne P. had been gaining almost 14 pounds a year, and was now seriously obese. He realized he had to do something about it:

As a teenager I was very fit. By the age of 17 I was playing ice hockey for England. When I hit my twenties and went to work I stopped exercising, but kept eating and drinking — curries, lager, and takeaways. I reckon I put on close to a stone for every year I was alive. By the age of 33 I was 27 stone 9 pounds [287 pounds] and basically addicted to junk food. I met Patrick when I became a volunteer for ITV's Tonight with Trevor McDonald, testing whether junk food was addictive. I started following Patrick's Fatburner System.

In the first four months I lost 32 pounds, a little more than 2 pounds a week, and I'm still losing weight, week by week. I'm still following the Fatburner principles, and I'm not even that strict. I eat more fresh food and less packaged food and snack more on fruit. My downfall is drinking — I still knock back a few lagers and a bottle of wine on the weekends. But I feel better. I have more energy. I feel happier and more comfortable and have gone down two sizes. I'm also becoming more active and my weight is still reducing.

What many people following my diet love most, apart from the inevitable weight loss, are the unexpected dividends. I receive letters like the following on a regular basis:

Since following your diet I have totally cured my migraines.

For eight years I suffered incredibly badly from rheumatoid arthritis. I could barely walk without suffering from pain and exhaustion. Following your advice has enabled me to control arthritis and to lead a full and active life: I am eternally grateful for that.

I was both surprised and pleased to see a rapid reduction in the wrinkly skin under my eyes.

Following your diet and supplements my cholesterol has dropped from 255 to 190. My GP couldn't believe it!

I used to have constant pain in my knees and joints, could not play golf or walk more than 10 minutes without resting my legs. Since I've been following your advice my discomfort has decreased 95 to 100 percent. I never would have believed my pain could be reduced by such a large degree, with no return, no matter how much activity in a day or week.

Within two weeks, I had much more energy. My mood is very positive — no panic or depression. I feel buoyant, energetic, and enthusiastic. I haven't had any colds or infections. I'm sleeping much better, my PMS is much better. I experienced no breast tenderness in my last period, and no mood swings or tearfulness.

And this is how you should feel all the time. I call it 100 percent health, and there's no reason why you can't claim it for yourself. You can lose weight and feel great.

You know the definition of insanity? To keep doing the same things and expect different results. And that's what millions are doing — eating the same foods and expecting to feel better and magically shed the excess pounds. But the real magic lies in a very different means to this end.

The science of slimming

Your body has evolved over millions of years to work perfectly with a certain kind of diet. Our ancestors weren't fat, because they ate this optimum diet, as do the lucky ones such as the Hunzas in the Himalayas, whose average life span is over 100 and who never get fat or suffer from diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, or any other of the diseases plaguing the 21st century. This is, in all its essentials, my diet.

If you follow the Fatburner System, you will lose weight, gain energy, improve your skin, sharpen your mind, balance your mood — and add years to your life, and life to your years. Now let's look at why.

The science behind the Holford Diet is very simple. Your body is designed to burn glucose for energy; the glucose is carried by blood to the cells. Carbohydrates such as grains and fruits are broken down into glucose in the body. But carbohydrates figure hugely in today's typical Western diet, and if you eat too much of them — particularly the refined type — you'll end up with more blood glucose than you need. You'll then store the excess as fat.

If your blood glucose levels are even, you'll have a steady supply of energy and a healthy but balanced appetite. This is the reason you'll have no problem maintaining the right weight. But, if your blood glucose levels are sometimes high, sometimes low, you'll see the beginnings of 21st-century-itis. When levels are too high, you'll lay down fat; when they're too low, you'll feel lethargic, and it will be harder to burn fat. A quarter of all people, and nine out of ten people with weight problems, have difficulty keeping their blood sugar level even. The result is exhaustion and overweight.

And this is just the beginning. Obese people are 77 times more at risk of developing diabetes than nonobese people — a statistic that alone tells you how strongly linked weight gain is to blood sugar control.

So the best way of losing weight is to regain blood glucose control, which heralds the return of your body's ability to burn fat. You'll lose weight effortlessly without having to starve, and gain health and vitality at the same time.

The five key principles

The Holford Diet is based on five key principles, which, taken together, form the fastest, safest, and most effective way to lose weight and gain health. Each is explained in detail in Part Two, but let's take a look at them now.


This is the crux: once you achieve it, weight loss is inevitable. Keeping your blood sugar balanced depends not only on what you eat, but also on how and when you eat it. In Chapter 7, I'll explain exactly which foods and food combinations stabilize your blood sugar best and help to burn fat. I'll be introducing you to something called the glycemic load of a food. This is a much superior method of measuring a food's suitability than "carbohydrate points" or the "glycemic index" (GI).

To put it simply, GI is a qualitative measure that tells you whether the carbohydrate a food contains is "fast-" or "slow-" releasing. It doesn't tell you, however, how much of the food is carbohydrate. Carbohydrate points, or grams of carbohydrate, are quantitative measures that tell you how much of the food is carbohydrate, but they don't tell you what that carbohydrate does to your blood sugar. The glycemic load of a food is the quantity times the quality of its carbohydrate, and that is the best way of telling you how much weight you'll gain if you choose that food.

You may be amazed by some of the foods that have a high glycemic load score. But it's important to know the truth: if you understand why you gain weight, you'll hold the key to losing it. Cornflakes and corn chips, for instance, have a very high glycemic load, while ice cream and peanuts do not. One single date has the same effect on your blood sugar and weight as a whole pint of strawberries. So be ready for some surprises.

Your goal will be to limit your glycemic load to 40 a day — that's 10 per meal and 5 each for two snacks. So knowing your glycemic load is essential.

And there will be immense variety to choose from. Part Four is packed with zesty, delicious recipes and menus, including Crunchy Thai Salad, Cod Roasted with Lemon and Garlic, Chicken Tandoori, and even Beef Burgers. In case you're wondering, I've done all the adding up of glycemic loads for you. You'll find that "glycemic load awareness" swiftly becomes second nature; before you know it you'll be doing your own mixing and matching of low-glycemic load foods at every meal.

You'll note that the fatburning breakfast combines oatmeal and yogurt. Mixing carbohydrates with proteins is another important way of regulating blood sugar, and again, very easy to master. There's a full discussion in Part Two, but, basically, it means you'll eat low-glycemic load carbohydrates with good-quality protein — for example, brown basmati rice with organic chicken, whole wheat pasta with wild salmon, or rye toast with scrambled eggs.

Fiber plays a starring role, too, because a food's fiber content lowers its glycemic load. So you'll find plenty of high-fiber choices, from beans to brown rice. Last, when you eat is very important. Unlike most diets, which are snackless deserts, mine will encourage you to eat two snacks a day along with your three meals.


Essential fatty acids (or EFAs) may be a bit of a buzzword these days, but they thoroughly deserve their celebrity status. These are the "good fats" I've talked about for years, and, although it may seem counterintuitive, there's evidence that eating them can actually help you to lose weight.

The reason is very simple. Your body and brain depend on omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs. In fact, excluding water, one quarter of your brain is made up of omega-3s. So almost nothing works well without them. Your brain can't function, so omega-3 deficiency leads to lower IQ, poor memory, and a tendency to depression. Your hormones go up the creek, possibly leading to mood swings, PMS, sugar cravings, and weight gain. Your skin shrivels, and your heart and arteries suffer.

This is why these fats are called essential. And, since we can't manufacture them ourselves, it's as if our body and brain are designed to seek them out. We literally have an instinct to eat fat. We are instinctively drawn toward the creamy texture of fats, sauces, cheese, and cream, and not only this: the body's "fat sensors" are in your mouth, there to tell you when you've hit nutritional gold. Think about it. If the body needs anything (water, air, essential fats, vitamins) there's always an instinct that makes you crave it. That's why fat-free diets are such a titanic struggle for most of us.

But our need for fats has also spawned a legion of "bad" fats — fried fat, processed fat in junk food, saturated fats, even "fake" fats. When you eat EFAs, your body's fat sensors tell the brain that your essential fat needs are satisfied. But when you eat bad fats, your fat sensors are not satisfied, even though your eyes and taste buds may have been fooled into believing you've eaten the fats that you need. The sensors respond much more strongly to essential fats than to processed or saturated fats. So, if you've packed away a burger and chips or several doughnuts, you'll find yourself craving fats the next day because your body hasn't received what it needed. And you'll keep on craving them until it has.

The Holford Diet gives you exactly the right kind and amount of essential fats, not only to help you stay healthy and glowing (and cellulite free!), but also to reduce your desire to eat unhealthy fatty foods. But that's not all. The essential fats also tune up your metabolism and help you burn unwanted fat. So it's not true to say that a calorie of any fat has the same effect on weight gain. You'll hear the whole story and the latest research in Chapter 8.


We are all unique. Think about your friends. Their appearances may be wildly different. Some will be night owls, others skylarks. They'll have different blood types. A number may be natural carnivores, others natural vegetarians. And most of us have different intolerances or allergies to certain foods, but very few even know it. Weight gain, however, is a common reaction to foods to which we're intolerant.

It follows, then, that eliminating the food to which you are unknowingly allergic can lead to highly dramatic weight loss. Lisa M., for instance, lost 5 inches off her waist in three days and 42 pounds in three months by discovering and avoiding allergens.

Rebecca S. also lost 42 pounds simply by avoiding her food allergies. In her twenties Rebecca had a stable weight, and used to exercise three or four times a week. But in her thirties she started to pile on the pounds. Over three years her weight drifted from 140 pounds up to 182 pounds and her dress size went up to 16. "I started feeling tired and lethargic and generally unwell," she said. "I didn't have the energy to go to the gym anymore. But it seemed the foods I ate were blowing me up, which was why I thought I could have a food allergy." She decided to test herself for a food allergy, which you can do with a home test kit, involving a pinprick of blood. The results showed that she was reacting to milk, egg white, and gluten — the protein found in wheat. Within a week of excluding these foods her skin and mood improved and the weight started to fall away.

Don't think that all allergies are for life. After three months strictly avoiding the foods she'd become allergic to, Lisa reintroduced egg whites and then milk to see if there was a reaction. Now she's fine on both foods, but still reacts to wheat. "I can't tell you how much better I feel. I'm 100 percent," she said. "Eliminating my food allergies has transformed my health. I just wish I'd done it sooner." Why did she lose so much weight? Because water retention, bloating, and puffiness are all common allergic reactions, and they make you feel and look fatter.

This is great news because, once you've singled out and eliminated the "bad" foods, you can see really dramatic changes very fast. It's not unusual to lose up to 7 pounds within three or four days.

Aside from weight gain and bloating, food allergies also cause many other niggling problems — aches and pains, headaches, fatigue, mood swings, annoying skin and digestive conditions. These also go when you identify and avoid what you are allergic to. You'll find out how to pinpoint the "baddies" lurking in your larder in Chapter 9.

It's reassuring to know that, as in Rebecca's case, most food allergies aren't for life. You can often "unlearn" your intolerances in as little as three months, which means you can reintroduce previously "bad" foods into your diet.


By now you're probably realizing that calorie intake and weight loss are not all that firmly linked. In fact, one of the biggest lies in nutrition today is "You can lose weight only by eating fewer calories."

The other is "You can get all the vitamins and minerals you need from a well-balanced diet." This is untrue. You simply can't guarantee that the nutrients you need are in your food.

Take vitamin C, which not only protects against degenerative diseases such as cancer, but also helps stabilize your blood sugar and speeds your fatburning. At ION, we've examined more than 500 studies — including the "gold standard" type, which are randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled — that have led us to conclude that the optimal intake of vitamin C is 1,000 milligrams a day. This is what our jungle-dwelling, fruit-eating ancestors could have gotten from leaves, berries, and fruits.

But how much vitamin C is there in a supermarket orange? As much as 116 milligrams and as little as zero. Yes, the "average" orange contains 60 milligrams of the precious vitamin, but some contain virtually none of it! And even if your supermarket orange contains 60 milligrams, you'd need to eat 22 of them to achieve 1,000 milligrams.

So I recommend that you supplement 1,000 milligrams of C a day, along with eating vitamin C-rich foods such as strawberries. You can eat strawberries till the cows come home and never gain weight. (Not all fruits are this useful for fatburning or general health, however, as we'll see.)

There are some 30 vitamins and minerals that are essential for health, and along with vitamin C a number will help you burn fat, too. Essentially, they boost your metabolism, reprogramming your body to turn food into energy rather than fat. For example, the mineral chromium helps to even out appetite and energy dips by stabilizing your blood sugar. It's so effective that it's given to diabetics, with amazing results. There are also amino acids and herbs that really can give you an edge when it comes to losing weight. Hydroxy-citric acid, or HCA, is a herbal extract from the tamarind plant, which makes it harder for your body to turn glucose into fat. There's another herbal extract from a bean called Griffonia, which is naturally high in an amino acid called 5-hydroxytryptophan. Known as 5-HTP, this amino acid has an extraordinary capability to ease excessive appetite and sugar cravings.

These aren't drugs. They're nutrients, and they will help fine-tune your metabolism.


If you exercise just to burn calories, quite frankly you might as well just not eat that piece of toast. The real value of exercise is that it helps stabilize your blood sugar levels and reduce your appetite. And the great news is that you don't have to do much to achieve this result — just 15 minutes a day, in fact.

It has been found that people who don't exercise eat more than people who do a little exercise or just have active jobs. The human body, it seems, needs physical activity to work properly in the way that it needs water or vitamins. Certain kinds of exercise boost the rate at which you burn fat for up to 15 hours afterward.

That's the immediate effect, but there's a long-term effect, too. With the right kind of exercise, you'll put on more muscle and lose fat, and a pound of muscle burns many more calories a day than a pound of fat. So every pound of fat you lose and every pound of muscle you gain increases your body's long-term ability to burn fat.

To kick-start this process, you'll do 15 minutes a day, or 21 minutes five times a week, or 35 minutes three times a week, of the right kind of muscle-building and fatburning exercise. And, fortunately, the fatter and less fit you are right now, the easier it will be to get the same benefits! For example, if you are overweight and underfit, jogging half a mile slowly can burn 300 calories, while if you are fitter and lighter you'd need to jog a mile.

Following these five principles is easy and enjoyable — yet they'll revolutionize the way you live, simply because of the way you'll feel and look, day by day. And, if you feel and look great, that's the best motivation for making it a diet for life.

Meanwhile, the dieting industry continues to make money from you by selling quick fixes that are destined to fail. That's what keeps you coming back for more. How many diets have you been on, and how many have worked? I want to make sure that the Holford Diet is the last diet you'll ever go on.

Copyright © 2005 by Patrick Holford

Meet the Author

Patrick Holford is founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London. He is Britain's top nutritionist and author of more than twenty health books, including The New Optimum Nutrition Bible, which has sold more than 1 million copies in thirty countries.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews