Stillman Diet

Grilled Skinless Chicken Breast

Back in the 1960s, Dr. Irwin Maxwell Stillman introduced a new concept in weight loss known as the Stillman Diet. It differed from the other calorie focused weight loss approaches at the time; it paid more attention to fat and protein.

The Original Stillman Diet

Dr. Stillman's book The Doctor's Quick Weight Loss Diet focused on eating low-fat but also recommended high protein intake. As the first low-carb eating plan it led the way in changing the way people approached weight loss and became popular with people who didn't want to count calories. In his book, Dr. Stillman stressed the need for overweight people to eat less overall, and his diet recommended eating six small meals a day. The controversial part of the diet at the time was the elimination of all carbohydrates, but his diet went on to inspire other low-carb plans such as Atkins and the Zone Diet.

Foods eaten on the Stillman Diet included:

Lean Protein Rich Foods

People following the Stillman Diet could eat as much lean meat as they wanted as long as it was broiled, baked or smoked and prepared without additional oils. In the case of poultry like chicken and turkey, the skin was removed before eating. Broth made from lean meats was also allowed.

Other sources of lean protein on the Stillman Diet included:

  • Hard boiled or soft boiled eggs.
  • Seafood
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Low-calorie, artificially sweetened gelatin


Dr. Stillman recommended drinking at least eight to ten glasses of water each day to aid in weight loss and flush unwanted ketones from the body. Other allowed beverages include coffee, tea and diet soda.

Foods Avoided

Foods eliminated from the original Stillman Diet include:

  • Added fats such as butter and vegetable oils
  • Alcohol
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Desserts made with sugar
  • Any dairy products that are not low-fat
  • Fruits
  • Pasta
  • Soft drinks containing sugar
  • Sugar
  • Vegetables
  • Vitamin supplements

Weight Loss on the Stillman Diet

Dr. Stillman suggested people could lose seven to 15 pounds in the first week on the Stillman Diet and five pounds a week thereafter. Once dieters lost most of their weight, and the scales tipped in within three pounds of their weight goal, he recommended switching to counting calories as a way to re-introduced carbohydrates and oils in a way that maintains weight loss.

Other Stillman Weight Loss Diets

While the original Stillman Diet is easy to follow and does result in weight loss, it is not a healthy, balanced diet approach. Vitamin supplements were recommended while following this eating plan, but the limited food options lack fiber as well as the nutritional benefits found in vegetables, fruits and whole grain carbohydrates.

After his original book in the 1960s, Dr. Stillman wrote several other diet books including:

  • The Doctor's Inches Off Diet (1969)
  • The Doctor's Quick Weight Loss Diet Medically Proven (1971)
  • The Doctor's Quick Teenage Diet (1972)
  • Dr. Stillman's 14-Day Shape-Up Program (1974) - Includes an exercise plan as part of weight loss.

Talk to Your Doctor

Dr. Stillman recommended people consult with their doctor before starting his diet, which is wise advice before starting any weight-loss eating plan. The original Stillman Diet was made up of about 90 percent protein. According to WebMD a high protein, low-carb diet can lead to health problems including:

  • Cancer
  • High cholesterol
  • Kidney failure
  • Kidney stones
  • Osteoporosis

With the elimination of fruits, vegetables and other carbohydrates, dieters who follow this eating plan will lack adequate fiber and are at risk of vitamin deficiency. You doctor will be able to guide you in making healthy nutritional choices to help you lose weight.

Stillman Diet