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Dr. Charles Procter, Jr. is the weight loss surgeon on several popular TLC shows, including, “1000-lb Best Friends”, “Too Large,” and for two seasons, “1000-lb Sisters.”

He’s beloved by fans because of his commitment to his patients but also his ability to shell out tough love.

Dr. Procter prescribes a 1,000–1,200-calorie diet to his patients two weeks before performing weight loss surgery.

The diet is intended to promote fat loss, shrink the liver, and reduce the risk of surgical complications.

However, if you are looking to lose weight, you may wonder whether Dr. Procter’s diet plan can work for you too.

This article explains whether the Dr. Procter diet plan is safe or effective for weight loss and provides a three-day sample Dr. Procter diet menu.

Dr. Procter diet

What is the Dr. Procter diet?

The Dr. Procter diet is a low-calorie, high-protein diet.

It’s a standard diet that weight loss surgeons prescribe for their patients at least two weeks before surgery.

The pre-surgery diet has several purposes including (1):

  • Reduce body fat and shrink the liver
  • Preserve and protect muscle tissue
  • Prepare the body for surgery and enhance recovery
  • Prepare the patient for the post-surgery diet

The diet limits calories to 1,000-1,200 per day, similar to Dr. Now’s diet plan from the show, “My 600-lb Life”.

For reference, a 2,000-calorie diet is considered standard and adequate to meet most people’s nutritional needs.

Dr. Procter’s diet is high in protein, consisting of 80–100 grams per day, and rich in fiber, consisting of at least 25 grams per day.

Carbs are limited to less than 50 grams per day.

Here is a summary of the nutrition goals:

  • Calories: 1,000–1,200 per day
  • Protein: 80–100 grams per day
  • Carbs: < 50 grams per day
  • Fiber: 25 grams per day
  • Water: 64 fluid ounces or more per day

To meet these nutrition goals, Dr. Procter requires that you drink two protein shakes and eat one meal per day.

Your meal should consist of 3–4 ounces of protein, 2–3 servings of non-starchy vegetables, 1/2 cup of starch, and 1–2 tbsp of oil.

Dr. Procter allows 2–3 low-calorie snacks if you get hungry.

The diet is intended to be followed for 12 days leading up to the surgery.

Two days before the surgery, Dr. Procter requires that his patients switch to a diet consisting only of clear and full liquids.

You should only follow a clear or full liquid diet for medical reasons and not for weight loss purposes.

Foods to eat and avoid on the diet

Dr. Procter emphasizes protein and fiber while restricting calories and carbs.

Foods to eat

Here are foods to eat on the Dr. Procter diet plan:

  • Poultry: eggs, boneless skinless chicken breasts, turkey sausage, deli turkey
  • Seafood: catfish, haddock, halibut, flounder, pollock, tilapia, salmon
  • Low-fat dairy: skim or 1% milk, low-fat cottage cheese and yogurt, cheese
  • Non-starchy vegetables: arugula, asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, green beans, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, and zucchini
  • Starchy vegetables: beans, jicama, peas, potatoes, and squash
  • Fruits: apples, banana, grapes
  • Grains: brown rice, oatmeal, whole-grain bread
  • Oils: canola and extra-virgin olive oil
  • Protein powders and drinks: whey, soy, pea, rice, or hemp protein mixed with either water, skim milk, or unsweetened almond or soy milk

Foods to avoid

Avoid these foods on the Dr. Procter diet plan:

  • Meats: beef, goat, lamb, pork
  • Dairy: 2% or whole-fat milk, flavored yogurts, ice cream or other dairy desserts
  • Refined grains: breakfast cereals, biscuits, crackers, desserts, pastries, white rice, tortillas, and pasta
  • Highly processed foods: chips, fast food, fried food, pizza, potato chips
  • Sweets: candies and chocolate
  • Beverages: alcohol, fruit juice, and sugar-sweetened beverages like regular soda, energy drinks, teas, and coffees

3-day sample menu plan

Portion sizes are important to keep stay under the 1,200-calorie limit.

Consume one meal should consisting of:

  • 3–4 ounces lean protein
  • 2-3 cups non-starchy vegetables
  • 1/2 cup starch
  • 1–2 tbsp oil

You can choose to have your one meal at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Your other two meals will consist of protein shakes.

The protein powder or pre-made shakes should contain:

  • 20 grams of protein per 8-ounce serving
  • 8 grams of sugar or less
  • 3 grams of fat or less
  • Under 200 calories

Here’s a sample 3-day Dr. Procter diet menu that includes a variety of approved protein powders and pre-made protein shakes:

Day 1

  • Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs, 1 slice of cheese, 1–2 cups of cooked veggies, and 1/2 cup of oatmeal sweetened with Splenda and cooked with water
  • Lunch: Premier Protein shake
  • Snack: 1 small apple, 1 cheese stick, and 1 cup of raw carrots
  • Dinner: Ensure Max shake

Day 2

  • Breakfast: Whey protein powder mixed with water
  • Lunch: 1/2 cup salad mix, topped with 1/2 cup mixed veggies and 2 tbsp of balsamic vinaigrette, with 4 ounces grilled chicken
  • Snack: 1 cup cottage cheese, 1 cup grapes, and 1 cup roasted brussels sprouts
  • Dinner: SlimFast Advanced powder mixed with 1 cup nonfat milk

Day 3

Benefits

Dr. Procter’s standard pre-bariatric surgery diet plan can be very effective for weight loss.

Most of Dr. Procter’s patients may need anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 calories per day just to maintain their body weight.

So it’s no wonder that prescribing them a 1,000–1,200-calorie diet will result in rapid weight loss due to the large calorie deficit.

A calorie deficit occurs when you eat fewer calories than your body needs to support normal bodily functions and physical activity levels.

The larger the deficit, the more rapid the weight loss.

But even if you weigh less than the typical weight loss surgery candidate, the 1,000-1,200 calories that the diet allows are well below most people’s calorie needs, allowing weight loss.

Dr. Procter also emphasizes high protein and fiber, which is great for weight loss.

A high-protein diet supports weight loss in three main ways (2):

  • Increases metabolism. Digesting and processing protein requires significantly more calories compared with carbs or fat.
  • Decreases hunger. Protein is very satiating and helps keep your appetite under control, helping you eat fewer calories overall.
  • Reduces muscle loss. Protein helps reduce muscle loss — and consequently a decrease in metabolism — that tends to occur on a low-calorie diet like Dr. Procter’s.

Fiber, like protein, also has satiating properties so you stay fuller for longer.

Downsides

There are a few downsides to Dr. Procter’s diet.

The main downside is that its restrictive nature can make following the diet long-term very difficult.

Sure, you may be able to follow the diet for several weeks or even months, but eventually, motivation wanes, and your body releases hormones that increase appetite and decrease satiety, making it difficult to continue the diet (3, 4).

Consequently, you eventually regain the weight you lost, often in excess, after you stop following the diet.

The other downside to the diet is that it’s likey nutritionally inadequate in certain vitamins and minerals, like magnesium, vitamin A, C, and D, calcium, thiamin, folate, iron, and potassium (5, 6).

Short-term nutrient shortfalls are unlikely to cause immediate health concerns, but following the diet for several weeks or months could lead to health problems.

Even though Dr. Procter prescribes the diet to his patients for two weeks, he still recommends taking a multivitamin before surgery to improve surgery outcomes and decrease the risk of nutrient deficiencies.

Finally, a low-calorie diet like Dr. Procter’s can cause many adverse side effects, including:

  • low energy
  • low sex drive
  • irritability
  • constant hunger
  • poor sleep quality
  • hair thinning
  • amenorrhea
  • cold intolerance
  • constipation

While generally minor, these side effects can decrease your quality of life.

The bottom line

The Dr. Procter diet is a low-calorie, high-protein diet designed to promote weight loss and shrink the liver in patients before they undergo weight loss surgery.

It consists of lean proteins, vegetables, protein shakes, and limited carbs and fats.

The diet is similar to what other weight loss surgeons prescribe for their patients at least two weeks before surgery.

While effective for weight loss, the diet can be very hard to follow long-term due to its rigidity, it’s likely nutritionally inadequate, and it can cause side effects like irritability, hair thinning, and constant hunger.


Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD, LN
Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD, LN

Gavin Van De Walle holds a master's degree in human nutrition and bioenergetics. He is a registered dietitian who aims to arm the public with evidence-based nutrition recommendations so they can make their own educated and informed health decisions.