The HMR Diet Promises To Help You Lose Weight Fast—But It’s Not Quite That Simple

If someone could just cook for you and tell you what to eat and when, losing weight would be sooo simple…right?

The HMR Program (which stands for Health Management Resources) puts that theory to the test. HMR promises easy results using pre-prepared foods (shakes and meals) and a highly structured format to help followers drop a lot of weight fast. But, as a registered dietitian, I was wary of the diet, so I decided to give it a closer look—here’s what you really need to know about the HMR Program.

What is the HMR program, and how does it work?

HMR has two different program options: the Healthy Solutions plan, which consists of around 1,200 calories per day, and the Decision-Free plan, which consists of 500 to 800 calories a day. (FYI: The latter plan is medically-supervised, so you need to work with a doctor on that one.)

As far as the Healthy Solutions option goes, the plan is broken up into two phases. The first phase uses what the company calls the “three-two-five daily plan,” a.k.a. a daily menu of three HMR shakes, two HMR entrees, and five servings of fruits and vegetables. This phase also suggests moderate exercise, plus food and activity tracking.

Phase one typically lasts four to eight weeks—or as long as it takes for you to reach your goal weight for that phase. For phase two, you’ll add in your own cooked meals gradually, subbing one pre-made entree with a measured portion of lean protein or grain a week, then adding on from there.

During both phases, you’ll have access to an online community of HMR dieters, online resources on the HMR blog, an online health coach, and an HMR ‘calorie guide’ to help you keep your calories on track.

This doesn’t come cheap. The program can cost around $600 a month after the first three weeks (there’s a $179 introductory rate for the Healthy Solutions plan), and you still need to provide your own produce. Prices vary by location for the in-person Decision-Free plan.

Does the HMR program help with weight loss, and should I try it?

According to the HMR website, those who participated in Healthy Solutions lost anywhere from 13 to 28 pounds in 12 weeks; those who opted for the in-clinic Decision-Free program lost an average of 38 pounds in 12 weeks. On top of that, U.S. News and World Report ranked the HMR Program as the number one diet for the Best Fast Weight Loss Diets. (It was ranked number 30 for Best Diets Overall).

If I’m being honest, any diet that is low calorie (HMR is considered “very low-calorie” per the study) will be effective for weight loss. But the million-dollar question is, will it last? A 2016 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that, while HMR patients lost more weight than people following other commercial diets, researchers were unable to determine whether they kept that weight off past one year.

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Probably not. HMR qualifies as a restrictive diet. So, while you may lose weight, you may also have trouble keeping it off, as many restrictive diets are hard to stick to, long-term. Another major issue with the HMR program: all the meal-replacement shakes (three a day on the Healthy Solutions plan; up to five a day on the Decision-Free plan). Unlike a balanced meal, these shakes are unlikely to satisfy both your appetite and your nutrient requirements in the long-term. And shakes don’t exactly teach you to cook and plan meals for yourself, a major key to lasting, sustainable weight loss.

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Get all the goodness of a banana split with only 150 calories! 🍌 Filled with the flavors you love and will be sure to satisfy that sweet tooth. This recipe supports the Decision Free, Healthy Solutions, and Phase 2 diet plan. ••• INGREDIENTS 1 HMR 120 Vanilla Shake 1 tsp sugar-free banana cream pudding mix 1 tsp sugar-free white chocolate pudding mix 1 tsp sugar-free cheesecake pudding mix 1/2 tsp rum extract 1/2 tsp banana extract 1 Cup cold water 4 Ice cubes ••• DIRECTIONS 1. Add ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

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Ultimately, even though having everything spelled out for you sounds awesome, HMR doesn’t leave room for eating intuitively (eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re full). You’re essentially just eating what the diet tells you to, when it tells you to, which can disrupt your ability to identify what your body is trying to tell you.

A diet like this can also lead to guilt around food and eating—especially when you go off the diet and don’t have a regimented schedule. And socially-speaking, this diet can be very isolating, in particular during phase one, when social situations involving food are discouraged.

The bottom line: While you can lose weight on the HMR program, I don’t recommend it—especially as a long-term diet plan.

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