The GM Diet: Seven-Day Plan, Review, and Tips
The General Motors Detox Diet
I hate dieting. I mean seriously, it's the worst. I like food—and not just food, but yummy, sugary, greasy, bad-for-you food. But when I realized it had been almost two years since my youngest son blessed me with bigger hips and the difficulty to look down and see my toes past my post-prego muffin top, I began searching for a way to get those pounds off.
Eventually, I came across a diet plan that promoted it's ability to make you lose 10 to 17 pounds in a seven-day period. Despite the fact the diet seemed difficult, let's be serious, 17 pounds in seven days is enough motivation for any of us to endure whatever this plan asks. So I decided to not only embark on the GM diet journey, but to write about my experience as well!
Does It Work? The Short Answer
Unlike Roger Cohen from the New York Times and other resources that promise you will lose 10-17 pounds in one week, I lost five pounds. However, I am not upset by that because I learned a lot about just how bad my eating habits were prior to this diet, and I learned a lot about self control. For a more detailed answer, including tips for how to make the whole experience more appetizing, see "My Day-by-Day Breakdown and Personal Review" below.
A Quick Overview of the GM Diet
The GM diet is rumored to have been developed by General Motors as an employee health plan. One overview to the diet reads:
The following diet and health program was developed for employees and dependents of General Motors, Inc., and is intended for their exclusive use. The program was developed in conjunction with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. It was field tested at the Johns Hopkins Research Center and was approved for distribution by the Board of Directors, General Motors Corp., at a general meeting on August 15, 1985.
However, it is difficult to imagine a company telling its employees what to eat each day of the week, and with some digging, the New York Times has discovered that this backstory for the diet is an urban legend.
Nonetheless, the paper's columnist Roger Cohen decided, "It’s a good diet, G.M. or no," and reported that he lost 11 pounds during his week following the plan.
The diet dictates a different food each day (with a few strange aberrations, such as a baked potato with butter to start out your vegetable day), with each day's food group accompanied by 10 glasses of water. Look at the chart below for a quick overview of what to eat each day.
GM Seven-Day Plan Diet Chart
Fruits only. No bananas.
Vegetables only, but you can start the day with a baked potato with one pat of butter.
Fruits and vegetables. No potato or bananas.
Eight bananas, three glasses of milk, and GM Soup (recipe below).
Tomatoes and up to 20 oz of lean beef.
Beef and vegetables.
Brown rice, vegetables, and fruit juice.
GM Soup Recipe
- 28 oz of water
- 4 packets of Lipton's French Onion Soup Mix
- 6 onions
- mushrooms, green peppers, and tomatoes (each can be added to your heart's content)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Dice the onions, mushrooms, green pepper, and tomatoes.
- Sauté the onions, mushrooms, and green pepper in the olive oil until slightly browned.
- Add the tomatoes, and sauté for one minute.
- Transfer the vegetables to a pot and add the water and soup mix.
- Bring soup to a boil, then serve.
Does It Work? The Long Answer
My Day-by-Day Breakdown of the Diet and Personal Review
Though every day of the plan consists of different foods, there are certain things that remain constant throughout the plan. You must drink 10 glasses of water every day for all seven days. Also, be sure to strictly follow the diet, with no added beverages, alcohol, or dressings. You may use seasoning.
Day 1: Fruit Only (No Bananas)
On this day, eat only fruit. There are no bananas yet—eat as much water-based fruit as possible. If you can manage to eat cantaloupe and watermelon only on this day, you can lose up to three pounds by the end of the day.
I loved this day. I mean, I ate fruit out of cans and filled big bowls full of ridiculous portions of pineapple, mandarin oranges, and cantaloupe. However, at the end of the day, I was starving—probably from the lack of my usual carb and dairy binges.
Day 2: Baked Potato with Butter and Vegetables
On your second day, you have a bit of a treat—you may start the day with a large baked potato with one pat of butter. After that, it's vegetables only. You can prepare them raw or cooked and are encouraged to eat until you are full.
Waking up to that baked potato was probably the highlight of the whole diet. Finally! Some substance! (Said my body.)
I ate a lot of green beans, munched on a few "rabbit-style" carrots, and made a rather large spinach salad with mushrooms and carrots. That last part was especially difficult for me without any sort of dressing. This day I also went to bed quite hungry.
Day 3: Fruits and Vegetables (No Bananas or Potatoes)
On this day, you can eat both fruits and vegetables. Though you still can't eat bananas, and this time, there is no baked potato.
I tried to eat as much as possible as often as possible to keep my energy up for the rest of the week. By the end of this day, I was very energized, and my body felt great. I cheated a little, using a spinach tortilla for a vegetarian wrap.
Day 4: Bananas, Milk, and GM Soup
Today is your hump day! You can have three glasses of milk, up to eight bananas, and an unlimited quantity of GM Soup. (The recipe is listed earlier in this article.) Combine some of the milk and bananas to change things up with a smoothie!
Day 4: Vegan Option
If you can't drink milk, you can substitute almond, soy, rice, coconut, peanut, or hemp milk.
Milk-and-banana day was my favorite of all of them. I love milk. I love bananas. I felt satisfied all day—no more hunger pains! And that soup? It was delicious. Today was a piece of cake—only without the cake.
Day 5: Beef and Tomatoes
FEAST DAY! Day five consists of beef and tomatoes. You may eat up to 20 oz of lean beef today. To jog your imagination, that could include steak, roast, ground beef, etc. In addition to the beef, you can have five whole tomatoes. Drink an additional two glasses of water today.
Day 5: Vegetarian or Vegan Option
If you are a vegetarian, you can substitute one cup of brown rice or legumes for the steak. You also get to consume a fat, such as olive oil, avocado, butter, or ghee.
I struggled through this day. I couldn't think of anything creative to do with the beef that was allowed under the plan. In retrospect, I would recommend buying steak or a roast for this day, and sautéing a few of the tomatoes to go with it.
I made the mistake of settling for plain ground beef—don't do it! It's gross plain. I also cut up my five tomatoes because I intended to snack on them throughout the day. However, I ate one on my hamburger meat and barely got through another. Just one 10-oz serving of the ground beef around noon kept me satisfied until bedtime.
Day 6: Beef and Vegetables
On this day, you may eat an unlimited amount of beef and vegetables.
Day 6: Vegetarian or Vegan Option
If you are a vegetarian, you can once more substitute brown rice or legumes for the steak. Make sure to also consume a fat, such as olive oil, avocado, butter, or ghee.
This day was a lot more fun for me because I got to cook a bunch of veggies, throw them in a bowl with the rest of my hamburger, and feast! I munched on some raw veggies throughout the day as well.
Day 7: Brown Rice, Vegetables, and Fruit Juice
On your last day, you can eat brown rice and vegetables to your heart's content. The diet also encourages you to drink fruit juice on this day.
This day was very similar to day six. I took advantage of all the veggies I had in my fridge and pretty much ate fried rice with vegetables all day. I couldn't complain, though partway through I wished I would have had zucchini and water chestnuts to go with the rice.
Now for the weigh-in:
I lost five pounds—not 10, not 15 but five.
Now, I'm not upset about this because, with how bad my eating habits were prior to this diet, I learned a lot about self control.
For one, I learned that all the crap I normally put in my body wasn't something I actually need! Who knew I could make it an entire week without coffee? Or that I could make it even 24 hours without adding an ungodly amount of cheese to something? This diet may not have worked miracles for my weight; but it not only made my body feel great, but it also really changed the way I look at food. Ironically for a crash diet, the GM plan has given me a lifestyle change.
In fact, I think I'm going to start all over tomorrow! Only this time, I'm going to add in a few other things, like light dressing, a tortilla per day, and grilled chicken. Because let's face it, a girl can't go to bed hungry!
Potential Side Effects
The GM diet has the same potential side effects as other crash or detox diets. These include:
- Dehydration—It is imperative to drink 10 glasses of water a day because your body is using your fluids for metabolic processes.
- Headaches—Headaches go hand-in-hand with the cravings you are attempting to change with this detox.
- Sudden muscle weakness—This can be caused by the lack of protein in the first three days.
Who Should Not Try This Diet?
This is considered a relatively extreme diet. If you are diabetic or suffer from hypertension or any heart defect, you should not try this diet.
That said, it all depends on the person. If you cannot handle the low energy intake involved in this diet, you should try something that can provide that. I am actually very impressed with how I did. I am anemic and suffer from naturally low energy levels, so food is where I get my energy. However, this diet has helped me find the foods that give me a natural sustained energy so that I don't have to resort to eating all the time.
Best of luck with losing that weight and, more importantly, reshaping your eating habits. Pay attention to how your body feels at the end of each day and remember to always treat it as though it belongs to someone you love!