Micronutrient Gaps in Three Commercial Weight-Loss Diet Plans

Nutrients. 2018 Jan 20;10(1):108. doi: 10.3390/nu10010108.


Weight-loss diets restrict intakes of energy and macronutrients but overlook micronutrient profiles. Commercial diet plans may provide insufficient micronutrients. We analyzed nutrient profiles of three plans and compared their micronutrient sufficiency to Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for male U.S. adults. Hypocaloric vegan (Eat to Live-Vegan, Aggressive Weight Loss; ETL-VAWL), high-animal-protein low-carbohydrate (Fast Metabolism Diet; FMD) and weight maintenance (Eat, Drink and Be Healthy; EDH) diets were evaluated. Seven single-day menus were sampled per diet (n = 21 menus, 7 menus/diet) and analyzed for 20 micronutrients with the online nutrient tracker CRON-O-Meter. Without adjustment for energy intake, the ETL-VAWL diet failed to provide 90% of recommended amounts for B12, B₃, D, E, calcium, selenium and zinc. The FMD diet was low (<90% DRI) in B₁, D, E, calcium, magnesium and potassium. The EDH diet met >90% DRIs for all but vitamin D, calcium and potassium. Several micronutrients remained inadequate after adjustment to 2000 kcal/day: vitamin B12 in ETL-VAWL, calcium in FMD and EDH and vitamin D in all diets. Consistent with previous work, micronutrient deficits are prevalent in weight-loss diet plans. Special attention to micronutrient rich foods is required to reduce risk of micronutrient deficiency in design of commercial diets.

Keywords: micronutrient gaps; nutrient density; weight-loss diets.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Databases, Factual
  • Deficiency Diseases / etiology*
  • Diet Fads / adverse effects*
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted / adverse effects
  • Diet, Reducing / adverse effects*
  • Diet, Vegan / adverse effects
  • Energy Intake
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Meals
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Micronutrients / deficiency*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritive Value
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Overweight / diet therapy*
  • Overweight / prevention & control
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Micronutrients