Choose to Lose by Chris Powell (2012): What to eat and foods to avoid

by Penny Hammond on July 23, 2012 · 23 comments

in Diets

Choose to Lose - diet book by Chris Powell of Extreme Makeover Weight Loss EditionChoose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution (2012) is a weight loss book written by trainer and transformation specialist Chris Powell –

  • Carb cycling – eat a high-carbohydrate diet one day followed by a low-carbohydrate the next
  • “Slingshot” weeks where you rest to restart your metabolism and avoid plateauing
  • Eat 5 times a day
  • Portion control method based on your hand size
  • Eat a diet high in protein and low in processed foods; eat low-sodium, whole foods.

See reviews and get a copy of the Choose to Lose book or Kindle edition at Amazon.

Also see Chris Powell’s sequel diet book, Choose More, Lose More for Life. In Choose More, Lose More for Life there are 4 different patterns you can use for carb cycling, depending on how quickly you want to lose weight, how much you exercise, and how easily you follow diets.

The reasoning behind Choose to Lose

The 7-day Carb Cycle boosts your metabolism so your body can burn fat rapidly. Your metabolic rate can slow down if you don’t eat enough calories or carbohydrates, so every other day is a high-carb day, where you are in an anabolic state and nutrients are being transferred to your cells so you build up. On the alternate low-carb/low-calorie days, your body is in a catabolic state so most of the fuel burned by your body comes from your fat cells. If you stay on this cycle indefinitely, your weight loss can plateau because your body adapts to the nutrition (and exercise) program. To stop this from happening, the Slingshot Technique allows you to relax, reset, and release to re-start your metabolism so you can lose more weight.

Choose to Lose diet plan – food list

This nutrition and exercise program works in 90-day phases. Each month in a phase consists of three 7-day Carb Cycles plus one Slingshot week, and from one month to the next you increase the intensity of your workouts.

Foods to eat in Choose to Lose

Suggested foods:

The author says that while you’re getting used to your new diet, it’s best to eat only the foods he suggests. The books says there are more suggestions at www.chrispowell.com, however at the time of writing these could not be found.

  • Proteins
    • Portion size – approximately the size and thickness of the palm of your hand
    • Dairy – cottage cheese, egg substitutes, egg whites, nonfat plain Greek yogurt
    • Poultry – lean chicken breast, chicken thighs, ostrich breast, duck breast, turkey breast (not deli), deli low-sodium turkey, lean ground turkey
    • Powders – egg, legume, soy, whey (whey protein is the author’s most highly recommended protein for convenience and to avoid feeling over-full – it should be very low in fat with less than five grams of carbohydrate per serving)
    • Red meat – ground buffalo, extra-lean ground beef, low-sodium roast beef, cube steak, flank steak, round steak, venison, elk
    • Seafood – salmon canned in water, salmon fillet, shellfish including clams, crab, lobster, mussels, scallops, shrimp; tuna canned in water, tuna fillet, white-fleshed fish
    • Vegetable protein – tempeh, textured vegetable protein (TVP), tofu
  • Carbohydrates (including fruit and starchy vegetables)
    • Portion size – approximately the size of your clenched fist
    • Bread – whole grain bread, Ezekiel® bread, Ezekiel® English muffins, brown rice tortillas, corn tortillas, Ezekiel® tortillas
    • Breakfast cereal – All Bran, Fiber One, low-fat granola, Kashi® GOLEAN®, Kashi® Good Friends®, Kashi® Heart to Heart®, old-fashioned or steel-cut oatmeal
    • Fruit – apples, apricots, bananas, berries, grapes, kiwi, melons, oranges/tangarines, peaches/nectarines, pears, pineapple, plums. Try to eat only fruit with skin on it. Fruits that you must peel before eating, such as bananas, melons, and pineapple, still have a decent amount of fiber but are not quite as weight-loss friendly. Preferably eat fruit in the morning
    • Grain – amaranth, barley, buckwheat, couscous, popcorn, quinoa, long-grain brown rice, wild rice, spelt
    • Pasta – brown rice pasta, whole-grain pasta
    • Root vegetables – small potatoes (1 ½” diameter), small sweet potatoes/yams (2” diameter, 4” long)
    • Starchy vegetables – peas, corn
    • Legumes – beans (boiled or low-sodium canned), lentils (boiled or low-sodium canned)
  • Vegetables
    • Portion size – approximately the size of two of your clenched fists, but you can have more if you’d like
    • Asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, celery, collard greens, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, lettuce, mixed greens, mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach, sprouts, squash, tomatoes, turnips, zucchini
  •  Fats
    • Portion size – approximately the size of your thumb from the base to the tip
    • Dairy – low-fat cheese, egg yolk, feta cheese, heavy cream, low-fat mozzarella cheese
    • Dressings – balsamic vinaigrette, regular mayonnaise, low-fat creamy salad dressing
    • Fruit – avocado, large olives
    • Nuts & seeds – almond butter with salt, raw whole almonds, natural peanut butter with salt, peanuts, raw chopped pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame butter/tahini, sunflower seeds, raw chopped walnuts
    • Oils – canola oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil
  • Flavorings
    • Portion size – no larger than the size of two fingers
    • Dressings – as above – balsamic vinaigrette, regular mayonnaise, low-fat creamy salad dressing
    • Herbs, spices & seasonings – basin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, cocoa powder, curry, garlic, ginger, horseradish, Mrs. Dash® blends, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, paprika, pepper, rosemary, sage, sea salt, tarragon, thyme, turmeric
    • Liquids – butter spray, low-sodium chicken broth, chili sauce, lemon juice, lime juice, low-sodium soy sauce, Tabasco
    • Tomato products – marinara sauce, salsa, tomato paste, tomato sauce
    • Pastes – chili paste, hummus, mustard
    • Sweeteners – stevia, xylitol
  • Drinks
    • Water, unsweetened almond milk, coffee, tea
    • Drink 8 or more tall glasses of water per day – almost a gallon. You may need more if the weather’s hot and dry or if you exercise strenuously
  • If you’re not losing weight after a few weeks, you may want to try reducing your portions by about 1/4 from current portions, and seeing if that helps with weight loss. Women should never eat less than 1,200 calories a day, and men should never eat less than 1,500 calories.
  • Note that milk isn’t included on the list of approved foods, as it is high in both carbs and fat
  • To avoid food cravings, drink lots of water, chew mint-flavored gum, eat high-fiber foods early in the day, or (only on low-carb days) eat one tablespoon of your favorite healthy fat
  • Always eat your protein first, before the carbs, fats, or veggies

Carb Cycles – High-carb/high-calorie days, eat:

  • Eat within 30 minutes of waking up, then eat every 3 hours – 5 meals a day
  • For breakfast, eat protein and fruit or protein and starchy carbohydrates included in the list above
  • For all other meals, eat protein and complex carbohydrates included in the list above
  • Include non-starchy vegetables in every meal

If you’re really, truly following the program but still don’t see results – Suggested tweak for high-carb days to kick-start your weight loss:

  • Include carbs and protein in your first three meals of the day
  • Remove carbs from your last two meals
  • Eat protein, vegetables, and fat for your last two meals

Carb Cycles – Low-carb/low-calorie days, eat:

  • Eat within 30 minutes of waking up, then eat every 3 hours – 5 meals a day
  • For breakfast, eat protein and fruit or protein and starchy carbohydrates included in the list above
  • For all other meals, eat protein, vegetables, and a moderate amount of the fats included in the list above
  • It’s recommended to include vegetables in every meal (except the root and starchy vegetables listed in the carbohydrate category), but not mandatory on low-carb days

Cheat meals / free days, eat:

You can EITHER take a free day once a week when you can eat anything you like, OR have one cheat meal of your favorite foods three days a week. These must take place on high-carb days.

  • Anything you want, from pizza to potato chips. Make sure you only have one alcoholic drink a week
  • Only eat cheat meals outside your house, and keep the food out of your house

Slingshot weeks, eat:

Follow this diet for one week after 3 weeks of high carb/low carb alternate days carb cycling

  • Every day is a high-carb day, as above
  • Eat within 30 minutes of waking up, then eat every 3 hours. Drink a gallon of water daily.
  • Eat 5 meals every day, from the list of approved foods, with the correct portion sizes. At all five of your daily meals, include one portion of carbs and one portion of protein; vegetables are highly recommended

Lifetime diet, eat:

Follow this diet (with exercise) to maintain your goal weight and shape

  • Eat 5 meals every day, within 30 minutes of waking up, then eat every 3 hours
  • Eat a wide variety of foods from the acceptable foods list above
  • Eat a balanced diet, without carb cycling
  • Don’t exceed your Carb-Cycle Solution portion sizes
  • Reward yourself once a day
  • Drink lots of water

Foods to avoid or limit with Choose to Lose

At all times, or until you have overcome binge behavior, avoid:

  • Foods that trigger you to binge

At all times, don’t have these in the house (although you can eat them on cheat meals / free days):

  • Sugary foods: Candy, chocolate, cookies, ice cream, soda, energy drinks, foods containing brown sugar, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, raw sugar, white sugar
  • Fruit juice
  • Processed foods: Baked goods, chips, conventional white and wheat breads, crackers, frozen meals, foods containing hydrogenated oils, white flour, white rice
  • Foods high in salt
  • Salted, smokehouse, and other flavored nuts
  • Fried foods
  • Alcohol: beer, wine, hard alcohol (you can drink once a week during a cheat meal; don’t have a mixed drink)
  • Artificial sweeteners including sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin (prefer stevia and xylitol)
  • Limit yourself to one diet soda or diet energy drink a day – only if you must

Carb Cycles – High-carb/high-calorie days, avoid or limit:

  • Fat

Carb Cycles – Low-carb/low-calorie days, avoid or limit:

  • Carbs (except at breakfast)
  • Excessively large amounts of fat

Slingshot weeks, avoid or limit:

  • Don’t exceed the recommended portion sizes

Health benefits claimed in Choose to Lose

The diet in this book claims to reduce the risks for: overweight and obesity

Consult your doctor before starting a new diet. This page describes what the authors of the diet recommend – Chewfo is describing the diet only, and does not endorse it.

For more information on how to change your attitude, the exercise program, supplementation suggestions, and details of the diet recommendations, see Choose to Lose book and Choose to Lose Kindle Edition.

Buy a copy of Choose to Lose to get the full details, recipes, and exercise recommendations.

Buy now from Amazon
How has this diet helped you? Please add a comment below.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Jean Gardner September 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm

This is absolutely the easiest “diet” in the world to follow and it WORKS. You do need to be prepared though at all times…your foods should be prepared in advance so it is easy to eat healthy. What I have found is that my free day gets me through the rest of the week. And in spite of what it says I did have more than one drink on my free days.:-). I lost 15 pounds in 6 weeks..yaaaa

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Penny Hammond September 21, 2012 at 11:53 am

So happy it’s working for you!
I love the portion size tricks, using the size of your hand – it’s about as easy as it gets for a measuring tool.

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Jen January 17, 2014 at 3:31 pm

It has now officially been 1 week since I began ernestly trying to eat heathier following the books guidelines. My caloric intake has been between 1200-1400 calories per day the entire week and I am doing shrededers along with interval running. I am currently at the exact weight I started at. Granted, I was not a couch potato beforehand and and I am watching portions & literally counting calories to be sure I am within the range to promote weightloss. I am a bit bummed out because I have worked very hard this week and see no movement on the scales at all. I am going to do another strict week and see what happens. I know I have to eventually lose at such a low caloric intake and daily running/exercises….I am a bit slower to lose I guess.

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Penny Hammond January 19, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Most current diets say that having a low-calorie diet isn’t the way to lose weight; that’s out of date advice which doesn’t work for most people.
This book says that having a low caloric intake all the time reduces your metabolic rate, so having fewer calories doesn’t help you lose weight. It suggests alternating between low-carb and high-carb days to boost your metabolism.

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Denyse February 9, 2014 at 7:08 pm

My husband and I have been doing the turbo cycle for 4 weeks now … we forgot to do the slingshot week after the third week so we are going to do that next week. Thus far, I have lost 19 lbs and he has lost 24. We feel awesome and you can really tell in our clothes and the scale. We are overjoyed. Nothing has ever worked for me so well and I literally feel amazing eating this way. We do look forward to our free day on Sunday but we find ourselves making much better choices because we know how we are going to feel if we eat something we wouldn’t normally eat. We find ourselves ordering different meals and sharing. Today, a free day, we had a beef sandwhich and we split an order of fries, something we would never have done before. Don’t give up. Maybe try doing another cycle. Start out eating VERY clean. Keep it simple …. grilled lean meats, vegetables, a serving of fat and when the day calls for it, a SMART carb. You will HAVE to see results.

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Kausha May 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm

I am trying to start Carb Cycling from Monday. Can anyone pls tell me if its ok to have a cup or rather half cup of coffee with skimmed milk? I have never left my one and only morning coffee :(

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Penny Hammond May 4, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Coffee and tea are on the approved list, but without milk or sugar (you can use a sugar-free sweetener on high-carb and low-carb days).
On low-carb days (but not on high-carb days) you can have a tablespoon of cream in your coffee, which counts as your fat portion for the meal.
You could try adding a scoop of chocolate or vanilla protein powder instead of milk – this also counts as protein towards your meal. (p.77)

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belinda June 10, 2014 at 12:30 am

Almond milk (unsweetened)

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Merideth July 3, 2014 at 2:23 pm

I have been Carb Cycling for 7 weeks now, I have lost almost 35lbs. I feel amazing and I can’t wait to lose another 23 by the end of July. I walk an hour day while pushing my 9 month old around in the stroller. so it certainly is burning more calories. I love having all my meals prepared in advance so I dont even think about cheating. I haven’t done the slingshot method yet, and I am wondering if i should. I have been turbo cycling for 3 weeks now, so maybe next week I will slingshot. Looking forward to high carbs everyday as well.. My favorite breakfast meal on high carb days is, egg whites, a slice of bread, cheese and avocado omelet and tomato on top of the bread. it is delicious and I think that it has helped me continue to lose the weight because I look forward to it..
This plan is so easy and my results are seriously fantastic. I am finding on low carb days I am not consuming enough calories and I try to get extras in. I hope to continue to lose weight. I started at 309 on May 20th, and as of June 28th, I was at 276. I am hoping to lose 40 more by Sept. 1st. I think if I stick to it, I will reach my goal of 70lbs total in 4 months.. If you have any questions I will be more than happy to help :)

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Penny Hammond July 3, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Wow, that’s great! Thank you for the information and the offer to help, and I hope you continue with your success.

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Jai July 4, 2014 at 12:57 am

Merideth I would love to speak with you re: the meal plans you are using. I started low carb on April 14 at 341 and I’m at 325 but have been stalled for over a month. Thought i would try carb cycling. Would you consider emailing me? Alexandgabbysmom@gmail.com

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Stephanie July 29, 2014 at 12:51 am

Meredith ease email me as well, I plan to start in a couple of days after I go grocery shopping. I have a few questions. Thank you! Swinegeart@gmail.com

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Cassandra Morris July 25, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Hi there! Question regarding something I noticed; For the “High Carb/High Calorie Days” you wrote
“Suggested tweak for high-carb days to speed up weight loss:
Include carbs and protein in your first three meals of the day
Remove carbs from your last two meals
Eat protein, vegetables, and FAT for your last two meals”
But then towards the bottom it was written that “Carb Cycles – High-carb/high-calorie days, avoid or limit:
*Fat”
So, are we supposed to or NOT supposed to have any kind of fat on high carb days??

And then for low carb days we eat “moderate” amounts of fat with EVERY meal, but avoid excessive amounts of fat (that I understand a little better)

Could you please explain? I realize you didn’t write the book from where this information came but didn’t know if you could clarify why one section for high carb says “eat fat for last two meals” and then it also notes elsewhere to “avoid or limit” fat those days. I just want to make sure I am clear. Looks like the only days we should really have fat is on low carb days if my understanding is correct. I plan to buy the book, hoping it delves into more details, but I am truly loving this little breakdown you have provided for us so I can at least get started before buying the book.

Thank you for any help!

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Penny Hammond August 4, 2014 at 6:19 pm

I just made the summary above a little clearer, I hope – Chris says that you should follow the general recommendations for high carb days, but if you’re really, truly following the program and still don’t see results you should make those tweaks, as although our bodies all go by the same weight-loss principles, the point at which the 7-Day Carb Cycle kicks in can be slightly different for each of us.

Note that Chris has 2 carb-cycling diet books – this book “Choose to Lose” and the follow-up “Choose More, Lose More for Life” which has more options on how to carb-cycle.

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Deirdre August 21, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Can I please ask a question. With the snack times what portions do you use? Surly you don’t use your hands. And depending on the day you are on must every main meal portions be according to you hands?

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Penny Hammond August 22, 2014 at 11:50 am

The portion sizes depend on your own size. If you have really big hands, the portion sizes will be much bigger than if you have really small hands.
I don’t think Chris is asking you to use your hands to measure portions – instead, visually compare your hand size (or palm, or other suggested part of your hand) with the food to check that you’ve got the right quantity.

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Careen September 28, 2014 at 7:43 pm

I’m just starting the 7 day carb cycle. My question is, on the cheat day can I have red wine on that day and still loose weight? Thanks , Careen

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Penny Hammond September 29, 2014 at 4:43 pm

That’s what Chris says! He also says you can only have 1 alcoholic drink a week…

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Dani October 20, 2014 at 9:11 pm

I want to start carb cycling but i cant find any info on Protein Bars,are they allowed, as a snack at least???? Please help!!!

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Penny Hammond October 21, 2014 at 8:12 am

Chris says that you should never have foods containing any kind of sugar, or processed foods.
Check the ingredients of the bars – if they don’t contain sugar and are minimally processed and don’t contain both high fat and carbs they may be okay; if they contain carbs you shouldn’t have them on low carb days.

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Patrick Doe November 29, 2014 at 11:54 am

I am 47 and have let myself go the past two years. I have tried this carb cycling and it truly does work, but I find myself resorting to unhealthy choices on the weekends… Beer!!! I have a solid two weeks that I am devoting to CC and NO BEER! In the past I have dropped around 6 or 7 pounds a week! I weigh about 232 currently and am looking to drop about 15 by XMas and 8 lbs a month from there and hopefully get back to the 180s!!!!! I am only 5’7 so I don’t carry the weight well. Looking forward to hearing more from people in their quest to a healthier body. Hugs PSD

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Sally December 1, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Hello,

Can someone let me know if agave nectar acceptable? Also, why is honey not acceptable? Thanks!

Sally

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Penny Hammond December 2, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Chris says “Your body breaks down simple carbs like cane sugar and high-fructose corn syrup very quickly, spiking blood sugar levels and stimulating a massive release of insulin from the pancreas. When this happens, your blood-sugar levels rapidly drop, and you immediately begin to crave more simple carbs. Simple carbs start the vicious “crash and crave” cycle, leading to uncontrollable cravings and overeating. Because of this, simple sugary carbs aren’t allowed in your 7-Day Carb Cycles, with one exception: fruit.” (What to eat for weight loss section in the chapter Solutoin: The 7-Day Carb Cycle)

Honey and agave nectar would be considered simple carbs, which Chris asks you not to eat on this diet to avoid cravings and overeating.

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