Interview With Amy Newman Shapiro, Author of The Great Weight Debate: Get the Facts and Choose the Diet That's Right for You

What lead you to write a book about diets?

As a registered dietitian nutritionist providing nutrition counseling, I found it distressing to hear so many people put time and effort into a diet regimen and end up frustrated and disappointed with the results. Some were even putting their health at risk. I wanted to help people sift through the minefield of recommendations and misinformation about dieting and be able to choose the best method for weight loss success.

How did you research your book?

Along with culled questions from clients about popular diets in use, I read previously published diet books, magazines, internet news topics, and social media posts to familiarize myself with the diets most frequently discussed. I collected scientific journal articles on the subject and used Google Scholars to search for others to obtain the research results for every weight loss plan covered in the book. That way I was able to present both public opinion and expert advice to provide all of the information one would need to choose the best diet plan for weight loss success.

Which diet do you think would be successful for most people?

This is a tough question as I said at first there is no one-size-fits-all diet. That being said, the healthiest population in the world comes from the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean diet is less like a diet and more like a lifestyle. And I am not referring to the Sunday Italian pasta dinners of my youth in Brooklyn. Look at the foods from Greece, the Middle East, Morocco, Spain, and France as well. Meals are full of vegetables, fruit, olive oil, nuts and seeds for healthy fat, and small portions of chicken or fish, and whole grains. And it leads to great results that are maintainable because of the lifestyle changes.

The Flexitarian Diet is also a healthy diet that leads to weight loss. The best part is its lack of rules. The diet does not advocate extreme conversion to a plant-based diet unless a person is looking to be vegetarian or vegan. Instead, it encourages a plant-based diet without eliminating meat completely. Eating more vegetables and fruit leads to weight loss. All meals are comprised of vegetables, fruits, grains, bean, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Flexitarians also rely on tofu and other soy-based proteins along with beans and lentils to meet their protein needs. Followers are encouraged to avoid processed foods in favor of whole or minimally processed plant-based foods, typically lower in calories. Additionally, the Flexitarian diet limits added sugars and sweet snacks.  

Review HERE! 

Whole30, while it is a restrictive diet, is short, limited to 30 days, and, therefore, less a risk of causing nutrition deficiencies previously mentioned. The plan may actually be beneficial as a “reset” or to identify food intolerances. It provides a way of understanding how the foods eliminated during the 30 days affect cravings, energy, and how you physically feel.

Whole30 makes it essential to purchase high quality fresh foods that are limited to meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. The goal of this is to help develop an awareness of how foods like sugar, grains, dairy, and alcohol affect weight. Whole30 followers focus on what they are eating and how they are preparing it. These habits are important ones to acquire for successful long-term weight control.

If losing weight when you are overweight or obese is healthy, what makes a diet unhealthy?

Most diets are a set of rules telling you what to eat and what not to eat. Any food group that is restricted or eliminated can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Over time some nutrient deficiencies can lead to fatigue, osteoporosis, and intestinal issues. Other diets encourage high fat intake and that can lead to heart and liver disease.

Extreme diets, those that cause drastic weight loss over a relatively short amount of time, rarely lead to permanent weight loss. Remember the TV show The Biggest Loser? They all struggled and lost the battle to keep the weight off. Part of that is because the changes in metabolism (the rate at which we burn calories) drastically reduce calorie needs meaning you have to eat much less to maintain the weight loss. In other words, after dieting, we don’t burn as many calories as we did before dieting. Any calories we consume but don’t burn, turn to fat. And on top of that, as we regain the weight, out metabolism does not increase, it stays at its after- diet low, the slower metabolism causing the pounds to pile on that much easier and taking them off again that much more difficult, maybe impossible.

The weight loss goal should include realistic expectations of target weight loss and a strategy in place for keeping the weight off.

Do you ever get writers block? What helps you overcome it?

I always know where I am heading since I use an outline but sometimes the words just won’t flow. I find it difficult to be creative when I have other things on my mind. If I’m stuck, I walk away from the laptop. I will get some exercise or take care of my to-do list, both usually clear my head. Then I will try again. Usually my writers block is followed by a moment of inspiration at the unlikeliest of moments, while I am driving, in the shower, or when I just wake up, so there is a pen and paper within reach at all times.

Connect with the Author: ​Website ~ Facebook


  1. great interview. Thi sbook sounds very interesting

    1. Here book was interesting because it wasn't use this one diet, it talked about a ton of them and where each might be useful. Some you could tell she wasn't a big fan of, but she did her best to give great info anyway.

  2. This sounds like a very helpful read ! Thanks for sharing!


Post a Comment