P.I.N.K. Method Diet Plan

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
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The 82-day P.I.N.K. method diet plan was created by nutritionist Cynthia Pasquella in 2011 to assist women who want to shed a few pounds. It's been featured on Dr. Phil, The Doctors, and Dr. Oz and combines cutting calories with regular exercise.

About the Plan

The P.I.N.K. plan consists of four phases and eating 1,000 to 1,800 calories daily, depending on the phase you're in. P.I.N.K. stands for:

  • P = Power
  • I = Intensity
  • N = Nutrition
  • K = "Kardio"

What's in the P.I.N.K. Method Kit?

To get started, you need to purchase a kit. Included in the P.I.N.K. method kit are:

  • A nutrition guide and workbook.
  • Three workout DVDs featuring cardio, strength, and flexibility workouts.
  • Access to activity and food tracking tools and online coaching support.

What You Can and Can't Eat

The P.I.N.K. method diet plan focuses on fruits, vegetable, legumes, whole grains (like brown rice), healthy fats, and lean protein foods like turkey, chicken, tuna, and salmon. Whey or hemp protein powder smoothies are also included in P.I.N.K. diet menus. When following the plan, you must avoid refined sugars and processed foods and limit alcoholic drinks and caffeine. Organic foods are encouraged.

P.I.N.K. Phases

The plan has four phases.

Phase 1 (P.I.N.K. Reset)

During phase one of the P.I.N.K. plan, which is a detoxification phase, you'll restrict calories to about 1,000 per day. Phase one lasts three to 14 days. Alcohol is banned and carbs are restricted during this detoxification phase. Your phase one workout DVDs will teach you strength-training basics.

Phase 2 (P.I.N.K. Primary)

Phase two of the P.I.N.K. plan is less restrictive, allowing you 1,600 calories per day. This phase focuses on fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein. You'll begin a high-intensity cardio workout program, as well.

Phase 3 (Seven Day Shred)

You'll enter P.I.N.K. phase three when you're close to meeting your goal weight (within five pounds). During this time, you'll continue exercising (especially strength and endurance workouts) and are encouraged to consume lots of vegetable soup and vitamin supplements to meet nutrient needs. During phase three, you'll cut back on fat and carbs.

Phase 4 (P.I.N.K. Preservation)

Once you've reached your goal weight, you'll enter P.I.N.K.'s phase four, also known as P.I.N.K. Preservation. You'll eat 1,400 to 1,800 calories daily to maintain your weight loss for life. You're encouraged to eat a well-balanced diet containing all food groups.

Sample Menu

A sample menu when following the P.I.N.K. diet may include the following:

salmon dinner

Breakfast

Whey or hemp protein smoothie mixed with fruits and plant-based milk

Lunch

Grilled chicken and a vegetable salad with sliced avocado

Dinner

Salmon, turkey, or tofu with brown rice and vegetables

Why It Works

The reason the P.I.N.K. plan works for weight loss is because it restricts calories and food groups and demands regular exercise. Any time you burn more calories than you eat, you'll begin to shed pounds. During phase one when you restrict carbohydrates, you'll likely also lose water weight, which you may regain once you introduce carbs back into your diet.

Is It Difficult to Follow?

Cutting calories, working out intensely, and drastically restricting what you eat may be difficult for many women to follow, especially long term. Matt Rowling, Ph.D., an assistant professor of human nutrition and food science with Iowa State University says the P.I.N.K. plan is a fad diet that likely isn't sustainable long term. Fifty Amazon.com customer reviewers give the P.I.N.K. diet 4.2 out of 5 stars. They say while the diet does aid in weight loss, it's not for beginners because of strict dietary requirements and the vigorous workout DVDs. Consumerscompare.org gives the P.I.N.K. plan a rating of just 4.7 out of 10, saying it requires lots of instructions and can leave you feeling tired and irritable (due to calorie restriction coupled with high-intensity workouts).

Vegetarian and Gluten-Free Options

The P.I.N.K. diet doesn't include red meat, and it's easy to swap vegetarian based protein foods (like tofu, seitan, or egg whites) for poultry and fish in the plan. It's also pretty simple to eat only gluten-free foods when following the P.I.N.K. diet, because many of the foods in the plan (like fruits, vegetables, brown rice, and protein foods) are naturally gluten-free.

Cost

When buying the P.I.N.K. method diet plan, you'll end up paying $59 to $75, depending on where you purchase it. Amazon.com sells it for under $60.

Pros and Cons

When you follow the plan as directed, you'll likely shed pounds. The P.I.N.K. diet includes combinations of heart-healthy foods like whole grains, protein, fruits, legumes, and other vegetables, which helps lower your disease risks during weight loss. The cost isn't as expensive as other weight loss plans so it might be within your monthly budget. However, the P.I.N.K. plan isn't for beginners, includes intense workouts, and is pretty restrictive, which may make it difficult to follow for long periods. If you're not entirely dedicated to strict weight loss plans or prefer a diet you can stick with long term, a less restrictive diet may be a better match for you.

The Right Plan?

If you don't mind paying $60 for a three-month weight loss program and thrive on structured plans that tell you what to eat and how to exercise, this diet may be a good fit for you as long as your doctor gives you the okay. However, if it's too intense for you, there are less restrictive ways to cut calories and shed pounds.

P.I.N.K. Method Diet Plan