Cohen diet

Cohen diet

Dr. Jean-Michel Cohen’s diet is one of the most famous in France. The Cohen diet is based solely on the principle of caloric restriction to lose weight quickly. It is divided into 3 phases during which no food is prohibited as long as it does not exceed a certain number of calories. Some of these phases are particularly restrictive.

Characteristics of the Cohen diet:

  • Based on caloric restriction
  • No food ban, many equivalences proposed
  • Preserves the notion of a balanced diet
  • Non-personalized diet by age, gender or energy needs
  • Very restrictive booster phase (900 kcal per day)

The main principles of the regime

The Cohen diet was created by Jean-Michel Cohen, a French nutritionist who is widely reported in the media. The diet proposed by Dr. Cohen is intended to be simple, enjoyable and long-lasting.

How does Dr. Jean-Michel Cohen’s diet work?

The Cohen diet is actually a low-calorie diet designed to reduce the amount of food consumed while choosing a varied and balanced diet. There is no food ban and deviations are allowed, as long as they are cleverly integrated into the food program.

The 4 principles of the Cohen regime:

1- This regime is interactive, in the sense that the menus offered are for information only. Equivalencies are given so that the person following this plan has several choices.

2- This diet preserves a balanced diet and is based on diversification and a mix of fibre/protein/ carbohydrates. The feeling of satiety is also emphasized in this diet by not insisting on precise quantities but rather on the feeling. Consuming large quantities of vegetables and raw vegetables, proteins and complex carbohydrates helps to find a balanced diet.

3- This regime does not require a radical change in habits.

4- It requires the minimum equipment: a scale, a tape measure for waist circumference, a food journal and an equivalence table.

How does the Cohen diet make you lose weight? How many calories should I consume?

To lead to weight loss, the Cohen diet takes place in 3 successive phases:

  • Comfort phase: focused on pleasure, phase of 1400 kcal/day which would allow to lose 2 to 4 kg per month without fatigue and without hunger. Consists of complex carbohydrates in small amounts at each meal, protein at each meal, unlimited vegetables, fruit at each meal, limited fat and a portion of cheese per day.
  • Booster phase: phase of the Cohen diet ranging from 900 to 1200 kcal/day to be inserted every month in the program. This phase helps to restart weight loss in case of a tray and helps to move the scale quickly by losing about 2 to 3 kg in 15 days. Consisting of protein at each meal, vegetables at will, only 2 fruits per day, very few complex carbohydrates, very little fat and no cheese. This formula must be used for a maximum of 2 weeks per month.
  • Consolidation phase: phase of 1600 kcal/day which allows the weight to be maintained in the long term. This phase allows the food removed during the other two phases to be reintegrated. Consists of more complex carbohydrates than the comfort phase, more fat and dairy products with 20% and less fat.

In this diet, the main factor leading to weight loss is portion reduction. The energy balance rule applies, i.e. caloric intake must be lower than energy expenditure to induce weight loss.

How long does the Cohen diet last?

This scheme is offered for a period of 20 weeks, which the person can extend by an additional month if necessary.

Permitted and prohibited foods in the Cohen diet

In the Cohen diet, no food is strictly prohibited. It is the total caloric intake over the day that counts above all. However, to promote satiety while consuming few calories, it is necessary to favour foods rich in fibre, protein and low energy density. This is the case for the:

  • Vegetables
  • Raw vegetables
  • Fruits
  • White fishes
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Seafood products
  • Lean pieces of meat
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Milk products 0%

On the contrary, sweet, fried, fatty and industrial products should be avoided as much as possible.

Cohen diet: standard menu and recipes

Comfort phasePhase boosterConsolidation phase
BreakfastCoffee or tea without sugar or with sweetener

1 slice of wholemeal bread

10 g butter

150 ml skimmed milk

1 seasonal fruit

Coffee or tea without sugar or with sweetener

1/2 slice of wholemeal bread

5g butter

100 g plain cottage cheese 0%

1 nectarine

Coffee or tea without sugar or with sweetener

2 slices of wholemeal bread

10g butter

100 g plain cottage cheese 0%

½ banana

LunchGreen salad + homemade light vinaigrette

2 poached eggs

Julienne steamed vegetables

100g plain yoghurt 0% 0% yoghurt

150 g pineapple

Cherry tomatoes

150 g grilled chicken breast in the oven

Pan-fried beans in butter

100 g plain yoghurt 0% 0%

Shredded celeriac + homemade light vinaigrette

125 g salmon steak cooked in the oven with tomato sauce

Grilled eggplants

30 g cheese (20% M.F.)

1 slice of wholemeal bread

1 apple

LunchGrated carrots + homemade light vinaigrette

125 g veal cutlet roasted in the oven

Steamed red peppers

1 slice of wholemeal bread

½ mango

Red pepper salad with balsamic vinegar

125 g extra lean oven-baked ground beef steak

Raw zucchini and carrot sticks

3 plums

Cucumber rings + homemade vinaigrette

125 g fillet mignon of beef cooked in oven mustard

Braised Chinese cabbage

30 g Camembert

1 slice of wholemeal bread

Advantages and disadvantages

The positive points of the Cohen diet

  • Weight loss
  • No food bans
  • Good protein and fibre intake
  • Satiety at every meal
  • Easy to follow in the long term
  • Equivalent principle that allows the method to be adapted to individual tastes
  • Compatible with a social life

The negative points of Dr. Jean-Michel Cohen’s diet

  • Phase booster much too restrictive
  • Requires calorie counting
  • Frequent weight gain
  • May lead to eating disorders in vulnerable people
  • Non-personalized plan that does not take into account age, gender or activity
  • Risk of long-term deficiencies

Recommendations and precautions to be taken

Are there any risks?

The biggest disadvantage of this regime is that it is not personalized. Each person is different in terms of metabolism, age, gender and level of physical activity. The comfort phase may not be suitable for a very active person who still wants to lose weight. In addition, the booster phase does not contain enough calories to reach the recommended vitamin and mineral intakes. The American College of Sports Medicine indicates that women should consume at least 1200 calories per day, and men 1800 to cover needs. In addition, a diet containing less than 1600 kcal per day does not seem to achieve the recommended nutrient intakes, mainly vitamin C, E, calcium and magnesium. The main consequence of very low calorie consumption is the slowing of the basal metabolic rate, which slows down long-term weight loss, as the body perceives this low calorie intake as a threat and slows down in order to put itself in a state of “hunger”.

Is this a diet for you?

In general, it may be interesting to learn from the main principles of this diet if you want to lose weight. However, some phases are too restrictive for this regime to be recommendable. If you are looking for a sustainable solution, nothing beats a varied and balanced diet without a constant calorie calculation.

Is it an effective cholesterol-free diet?

If you have high cholesterol, the Cohen diet may be a good solution for you. Indeed, it promotes the consumption of fibre, lean proteins and plants. The low presence of saturated fats, sugary and industrial products makes this diet interesting for preventing and treating lipid balance disorders.

Is it a diet compatible with sport?

In this diet, regular physical activity is strongly encouraged. On the one hand because it promotes weight loss and on the other hand because it slows down the melting of lean mass and contributes to the prevention of many diseases.

How can I not gain weight?

In the event of a sudden cessation of the diet and a return to poor eating habits, weight gain is almost inevitable. Indeed, the principles of the Cohen diet and caloric restriction must be perpetuated for life in order not to regain the lost weight.

A few figures to go further

No scientific studies have been conducted on the Cohen diet. There is ample evidence that weight loss requires a negative energy balance, which obviously requires reducing the amount of calories consumed during the day. Since the principles of the Cohen diet are based on this caloric deficit, weight loss can be expected. However, these same principles must be perpetuated over the long term to ensure that lost weight is maintained. In addition, the consequences of this caloric restriction on the health of the body are not yet fully understood.

Also read: Energy density diet