Book Review: "The No Time to Lose Diet"

Monday, April 16, 2007 - 12:57pm

By Katie Clark, MPH, RD

Dr. Melina Jampolis' new book, The No Time to Lose Diet, is a different type of diet book: one that healthcare professionals should actually recommend! Published in January 2007, this easy-to-read paperback is surprisingly full of sound nutrition and exercise advice compiled to get weight-loss results for even the busiest reader.

Exchanging Your Eating Plan

The No Time to Lose Diet is based on the American Dietetic Association and American Diabetes Association's meal planning exchange lists. You won't find any magical foods or quick fix solutions in this book. Instead, Dr. Melina presents a well-balanced approach to portion control and sensible eating, using the exchange lists as a guideline.

The meal planning exchange lists have been the standard tool used by dietitians and diabetes educators for years, although many dieters remain unfamiliar with their existence. But the exchange lists on their own can be quite dry, not to mention confusing for those without much nutrition background.

The premise behind Dr. Melina's nutrition plan (and the exchange lists) is that various foods fall into one of six groups: starch, low-fat protein, fat, fruit, vegetable, or dairy. Appropriate serving sizes are ensured by the fact that each exchange has a predetermined number of calories, carbohydrate, protein, and fat grams. Helpful shopping lists at the end of the book provide information about exchange content of various recommended foods, but unfortunately, the well-designed meal-plan ideas and recipes interspersed throughout the book do not.

While The No Time to Lose Diet does not espouse any revolutionary approach to weight loss, this book boils down a lot of the same information that weight loss experts have been stressing for years. In order to lose weight, it is important to:

  • Increase fiber intake
  • Decrease refined sugars and processed food intake
  • Increase physical activity
  • Alter harmful behavior practices.

The Carbohydrate Counter

Dr. Melina Jampolis is a physician and one of only 200 physician nutrition specialists in the country. A unique feature of her book is the Carbohydrate Counter, a quick worksheet she created to help you determine how many starchy carbohydrates you "should" have per day.

While the counter exercise may help readers realize they may be eating excessive amounts of starchy carbohydrate, it does produce carbohydrate recommendations that are surprisingly low. For example, as a healthy individual with moderate daily exercise, The No Time to Lose Diet's Carbohydrate Counter says I should only be eating three starches per day, for a total for 45 grams of carbohydrate, coming from foods such as whole grain bread products. This is much less than the eight servings per day recommended by the USDA's meal plan and a value that resembles recommendations from some of the less credible low-carbohydrate diets that have lost so much popularity over the past few years.


A refreshing aspect of The No Time to Lose Diet is that it focuses on the two components of weight loss that really matter: calories in and calories out. There is a small portion about vitamin supplements, but Dr. Melina's recommendations of a daily multivitamin and calcium with vitamin D for most people is a much-welcomed conservative approach.

It is a little unconventional that she puts "almost all of [her] patients on a fish oil supplement," as this is usually reserved for patients at risk for developing or currently suffering from cardiovascular disease. While Dr. Melina does have her own line of vitamins available for purchase on her website, this particular book does a good job of emphasizing food over pills as a key to weight loss success.

No Time to Lose

The No Time to Lose mantra does not imply promises of rapid weight loss for those with no time to wait. Instead, it is the philosophy behind the book that seeks to help average, busy people lose weight.

An important addition to this book is the acknowledgement that harmful behaviors can hamper weight loss. Dr. Melina advocates food journaling and written records of various goals and barriers to weight loss. She provides behavior change tips and entertaining personal patient anecdotes from her experiences as a weight loss counselor.

While this book may not appeal to the impatient dieter or to a reader not entirely committed to lifestyle change, Dr. Melina Jampolis' The No Time to Lose Diet is a practical approach to sensible weight loss for busy people, emphasizing the importance and feasibility of balanced eating and regular exercise in order to achieve a healthy weight.