What Is the Suzanne Somers Diet?

Suzanne Somers diet

 Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

The Suzanne Somers Diet or "Somersizing" is a low-carb eating plan developed by Suzanne Somers based on food combining principles to promote weight loss. The celebrity and bestselling author is renowned for her views on anti-aging, weight loss, and well-being.

But Somers is probably best known for her role as Chrissy Snow on the popular '70s sitcom "Three's Company." She also played Carol Foster Lambert on "Step by Step" during the '90s. You might also recall Somers' endorsement of the ThighMaster following its debut in 1992.

When Somers announced her breast cancer diagnosis in 2001, she became an outspoken advocate for alternative treatments to chemotherapy, which was met by criticism from experts affiliated with the American Cancer Society. Despite this, Sommers' notable reputation as a health and fitness spokesperson continued. She has written 27 books, over a dozen of which are diet books and cookbooks. Her food philosophy, weight loss tips, and recipes can be found in "Suzanne Somers' Eat Great, Lose Weight," "Suzanne Somers' Fast & Easy," and "The Sexy Forever Recipe Bible," among others.

Somers claims that pairing certain foods together can accelerate weight loss. The Somersizing theory is based on the idea that certain food combinations can help you burn fat more efficiently, balance your hormones, and improve your metabolism. But Somers is not a doctor, board-certified nutritionist, or dietician. She simply found an eating plan that works well for her and shared it—and research on its effectiveness is lacking.

What Experts Say

"The Suzanne Somers Diet is a low carbohydrate plan that utilizes food combining rules (certain foods must be eaten alone or apart). According to experts, there’s no scientific evidence for this. The diet also eliminates several nutritious foods like nuts and sweet potatoes."
Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH

What Can You Eat

The Suzanne Somers Diet is a two-phase process. During phase one, several foods ("funky foods") are restricted and the food combination rules are also more strict. Level two is a maintenance phase and some of the rules are slightly more relaxed.

According to Somers, certain foods should and shouldn't be eaten together. Foods are divided into groups: "carbos" and "pro/fats." The plan teaches how to either combine them or keep them separated for weight loss. For example, you'll learn to eat fruit by itself and include vegetables at meals, but never starchy carbohydrates when you eat protein or fat. Pro/fats are foods that combine with protein and fat, and a few carbohydrates are included on an "acceptable" list.

What You Need to Know

There is no calorie counting and you don't have to measure the correct portion sizes for weight loss on the Suzanne Somers diet. You simply eat until you are no longer hungry. She calls this state "comfortably full."

Somers suggests three meals a day as well as snacks because getting too hungry might cause you to overeat or eat something unhealthy or not compliant with the diet. Separate "carbo" and "pro/fat" meals by at least three hours.

In addition to Somers' library of books and cookbooks explaining her plan, she also has a website where fans can buy the books along with supplements and a few foods such as protein shakes, balsamic vinegar, and chocolate bars. Vegetarians and people who adhere to a gluten-free diet can follow the Suzanne Somers diet. She includes instructions for these modifications in her books.

What to Eat
  • Vegetables

  • Fruits

  • Whole grains

  • Meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood

  • Butter and cheese

What Not to Eat
  • White flour

  • Potatoes, squash, and corn

  • Sugar

  • Whole milk and yogurt

  • Caffeine and alcohol

  • Tree nuts and peanuts

Vegetables

Most vegetables are allowed and encouraged on the plan, except starchy ones such as potatoes and sweet potatoes. Somers suggests eating vegetables with both carb-heavy meals and "pro/fat" (protein and fat) meals.

Fruits

Fruits are allowed, but only on their own (not in combination with other foods). The plan indicates you should wait three hours after eating fruit to eat anything else.

Whole Grains and Carbs

For "carbo" meals, choose whole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice) over refined carbs, and don't add any protein or fats. For example, you can have fat-free cream cheese, but not low- or full-fat cream cheese, on a whole wheat bagel. Beans are considered carbs on this plan.

Meat, Poultry, Eggs, and Seafood

There are no restrictions on the type or amount of these pro/fat foods consumed; just don't eat them at the same time as you have carbs. So instead of a steak stir fry over rice, skip the rice and have the steak and vegetables on their own. For vegetarians, soy products such as tofu are in the pro/fats category too.

Butter, Cream, and Cheese

These are pro/fats as well, so they can be eaten only with other pro/fats or with vegetables. The exception is fat-free versions.

White Flour

This refined carbohydrate is not allowed on the Suzanne Somers diet. Choose whole-grain flours instead.

Starchy Vegetables

While many vegetables are unlimited on this eating plan, starchy ones such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, corn, squash and even carrots which aren't really a starchy vegetable make the off-limit list.

Sugar

Especially on level one, do not consume any added sugars (sugar, syrup, honey, molasses, etc.). Artificial sweeteners are OK, according to the plan.

Whole Milk and Yogurt

Since milk and yogurt contain carbs, as well as protein and fat, these foods are considered "funky," or off-limits, because they combine carbos and pro/fats. Nonfat dairy products are allowed in the "carbo" category (so, not to be eaten with pro/fats).

Caffeine and Alcohol

Stay away from these, at least on level one of the diet. Somers says that if you really must drink alcohol, choose small amounts of red wine. Cooking with wine is fine.

Tree Nuts and Peanuts

Since nuts contain both protein and fat and carbs, they are a no-go despite their health benefits.

Sample Shopping List

Phase one of the Suzanne Somers Diet is the most restrictive, focusing on protein, complex carbohydrates, vegetables (excluding starchy veggies), and fruits. The following shopping list provides suggestions for getting started with Somersizing. Note that this is not a definitive shopping list, and you may find other foods that work better for you.

  • Chicken breast
  • Salmon filets (fresh or frozen)
  • Beef (sirloin tips, tenderloin, ground beef)
  • Eggs
  • Kale
  • Mixed greens
  • Beets
  • Fat-free cream cheese
  • Mixed berries
  • Grapefruit
  • Bananas
  • Quinoa
  • Rolled oats

Sample Meal Plan

Phase one of the Suzanne Somers Diet is the most regimented around food combining. You'll eat carbohydrates with vegetables (but no fat) or protein with vegetables and fats (but no carbs). If you eat fruit you should do so on an empty stomach and not eat anything else for about three hours.

The following meal plan shows you what three days on phase one of the diet might look like. Since alcohol and caffeine are discouraged, it's best to drink water with meals with the exception of a small glass of red wine on occasion. Keep in mind that if you decide to follow this diet, there may be other meals that are more appropriate to suit your tastes and preferences.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Promotes whole grains and vegetables

  • Recipes available

  • May be effective for weight loss

Cons
  • Complicated restrictions

  • No scientific evidence

Pros

Everyone can benefit from having more vegetables and whole grains on their plates, which is common on the Suzanne Somers diet.

Since the Suzanne Somers Diet cuts out sugar, flour, and other "funky foods," it is likely that you'll lose weight if you stick to the plan. Eliminating those items from your diet will help you create a calorie deficit to lose weight.

You'll find plenty of recipes (though not much in the way of meal plans) in Somers' cookbooks and on her website, as well as elsewhere online.

Proponents of Somersizing claim they've had success on this diet. However, Somers' advice should be taken with a grain of salt since she is not a nutrition expert or registered dietician.

Cons

Somersizing restricts certain healthy vegetables and allows artificial sweeteners and fat-free products, which may be processed.

This plan may be a little tougher to follow than other low-carb diets because you have to pay close attention to every food you eat and then decide if it can be eaten alone or if it must be combined with another food.

You'll have to learn to apply the rules to your daily life and regular eating habits, rather than following a prescribed diet or meal plan. For some people, this might be too much work. Also the diet is likely to be very low calorie because of the inability to combine foods. And nutrient intake may suffer as well. Eating fruit on its own without fat will result in suboptimal absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

There isn't any high-quality research to support the concept of food combining over other eating plans. Eating certain foods alone and other foods in combination may not make any difference in your overall weight loss. If it does work, it's more likely due to the fact that empty-calorie foods have been eliminated.

Is the Suzanne Somers Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends filling your plate with a variety of grains, protein, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. The Suzanne Somers Diet restricts some grains and vegetables, but it generally includes all food groups. They just won't be combined in the same meal.

For weight loss, it's recommended to consume about 1,500 calories a day, but that number can vary depending on factors like age, sex, weight, and activity level. Because there is no calorie counting on the Suzanne Somers diet, this could cause some people to overeat, which may lead to weight gain or an inability to lose weight. In those instances, calorie counting would be helpful to create a calorie deficit. Conversely, some people may find that they're not able to get enough calories on this restrictive eating plan. This tool helps you calculate a calorie target that could help you get the right number of calories.

Somersizing does not include any calorie counting or food measuring, but due to its restrictive nature, some people report only consuming about 1,200 calories a day, which may not enough energy for you. Additionally, the confusing rules around food combining can make the diet difficult to follow correctly.

Health Benefits

The Suzanne Somers Diet eliminates refined carbohydrates, sugar, and alcohol, which may lead to weight loss and improved health outcomes. Following this diet may not be sustainable for the long-term, however.

A sustainable rate of weight loss is 1–2 pounds per week, which is possible on this eating plan. It's also possible to keep the weight off long-term with a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise. Somers is known as an advocate for lifelong fitness and health, as is evident in her roster of books.

Health Risks

Though there are no known health risks associated with the Suzanne Somers Diet, there is no evidence to show that a food-combining diet is more effective than a healthy, balanced diet for weight loss. The program also restricts certain healthy foods like nuts, potatoes, and yogurt, only because they "combine" protein, fat, and carbs, which is not a nutritionally balanced approach.

Additionally, a strict and regimented low-calorie diet could lead to an unhealthy obsession with food and clean eating for some people. Not getting enough calories can lead to fatigue and create other health problems such as slowed metabolism.

There is no guarantee that a diet plan that worked for Somers can work for another person, and striving to look like any celebrity or media personality could create issues around body image and self-esteem.

A Word From Verywell

Many people follow weight loss programs developed by celebrities, which isn't necessarily a bad strategy if you admire that person's lifestyle. Just keep in mind that many celebrities and media personalities enlist the help of nutrition professionals to create sound programs. And just because you follow the diet doesn't mean that it will work. Ask your healthcare team (physician, nurse practitioner, or registered dietitian) for advice if you need help finding the best plan to reach your weight loss goal.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, and budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

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Article Sources
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