There are dozens of diets out there, all making different claims and offering different plans. When exploring them, I was extremely intrigued by what I initially read about Plan Z. This was a diet that not only claimed to be extremely easy to stick to, but was one that apparently did not need to be paired with a fitness plan to work.
First things first: I did not buy Plan Z. I was open to the alternative, because who wouldn’t want to lose weight without having to exercise or watch what you eat? However, what I learned about the plan, from the price tag, left me cold.
I’ve actually opted for a much cheaper alternative, Metabolic Cooking, which is a wholesome and sustainable lifestyle plan (I’ll talk a bit more about that later).
But, if you are still curious about Plan Z, read on. You can learn more about what it is, what it costs and what the experts have to say about it, then make a decision for yourself. It’s not a bad diet. Just way beyond my budget.
What Is Plan Z?
Plan Z is a diet and coaching program. Dieters get a kit with manuals and several bottles of an appetite-curbing spray, along with sign-ins for a membership program.
The creators emphasize repeatedly the things that Plan Z is not. It is not a diet that relies on specially packaged shakes or frozen meals that must be purchased from the creators. It is not a point system or a calorie counting system. Instead, participants use the system designed by Plan Z to lose weight.
Who Created Plan Z?
On the Plan Z website, the creator is credited solely as “Zola.” A bit of digging reveals that this is the pen name of Sarah McCann, a Chicago-area writer, speaker and CEO. Her LinkedIn reveals that she’s held a series of CEO positions going back to 1983. She says that she started Plan Z in 2010 in order to battle the obesity epidemic.
According to Zola’s story that she shares on the Plan Z website, she is someone who personally struggled with excess weight. She says that she tried several diets but didn’t find any that worked for her.
Plan Z was the diet she says she developed herself after her husband found an obscure (and unidentified) book written by a scientist for doctors. Zola does have proven coaching experience and, at least according to pictures, took and kept the weight off. However, she makes no claims of medical or nutritionist training.
How Does Plan Z Work?
Plan Z is broken down into four phases.
During the first, ZBinge, participants spend two days eating all of the foods that they will miss while they are in the active dieting phases. They will also begin using ZR50 Crave Control spray four times a day. This spray is supposed to help people avoid cravings and feelings of hunger during the later diet phases.
Next, dieters spend 48 days in ZReduction. The foods that are eaten during this phase are restricted. You will be on a calorie-restricted diet. You are instructed to avoid complex carbohydrates, sugar and heavy fats, while focusing instead on lean meat, fresh fruit and non-starchy vegetables. According to the Plan Z site, during this time, your insulin levels will normalize and fat cells will begin releasing fatty acids into your bloodstream.
There is no exercise during this phase. Under the Plan Z beliefs, exercise makes you more hungry, which in turn makes it harder to curb excess eating.
The third phase of the diet is ZReboot. During this six-week phase, you will be expanding your food choices. You will also have a higher calorie allowance. This is a phase that involves learning new eating behaviors. Their coaching will teach people about the pitfalls of processed foods and what sorts of danger foods to look out for.
During the fourth and final phase, ZLife, you transition indefinitely to eating however you please. According to Plan Z, you will no longer experience food cravings. You will never think about dieting again. In the Plan Z philosophy, there are foods that each dieter’s body is sensitive to. You will have learned what these foods are for you and how to avoid them.
Throughout the plan, participants will use recipes provided to them by Plan Z. There are 900 recipes in categories that include comfort foods, gourmet meals, desserts and international meals. There are also meals specifically for quick cooking, such as crock pot meals and one dish meals.
While there is no exercise during the weight loss phase, it can be introduced later on. For reasons that are not specified, Plan Z specifically recommends non-impact exercises.
Throughout the plan, participants get support in the form of daily emails. These are considered private briefings and take about 10 minutes a day to read. People from Plan Z are also available by email seven days a week to answer questions.
Participants who need to do a longer program can pay an additional $13 a month to join ZClub, which includes access to the Plan Z site, coaching and calls on the second Tuesday of every month. Additional bottles of the spray can be purchased for $49 a bottle.
ZR50 Crave Control spray’s ingredient list includes:
- calcarea carbonica
- nux vomica
- magnesium phosphorica
- 23% alcohol
The ingredients (besides the alcohol) are included at a 6C homeopathic concentration. In homeopathy, “C” means that a substance has been diluted to a ration of 1:100. So, for 1C, you’d have one drop of active ingredient in 100 drops of water. Each time you go up a number, you repeat the process. So, a 2C solution takes a single drop of the 1C and agitates that in 100 drops of water, and so on. By the time you’ve reached 6C, there are only a few molecules of the herbs and minerals hanging out in the solution.
Coaching and real food are both pros of this plan. Diet plans that are based on shakes or frozen meals are often unsatisfying and monotonous. This makes it hard to stay on them. I like the fact that there are many Plan Z diet recipes and that they are promised to be simple. I enjoy cooking, but I know that a requirement to cook most meals can be a detriment to people who are less comfortable in the kitchen.
One intriguing pro is that, theoretically, the cost of this plan can be covered by your health insurance. According to the Plan Z website, if you have an obesity-related illness and your doctor recommends that you combat it by losing weight, you can get a letter of medical necessity. Then, you can submit that paperwork to your insurance along with your receipt for Plan Z for reimbursement.
However, since all healthcare plans are different and the price is a lot to take on out of pocket, I’d advise asking your health insurance provider first.
While there is very little of any of the active ingredients in ZR50 Crave Control, it is actually possible that it will work for some folks anyway. The power of the placebo effect has been well documented. In fact, a number of people who are told that they are receiving a placebo in a medical study improve anyway. So, the power of suggestion could be a help.
I think that the requirement not to exercise is not well supported. The fact that carbohydrates — even complex carbs like you get from whole grains — are forbidden during the loss phase also makes me skeptical. Forbidding specific foods sounds like a recipe for failure.
Much of Plan Z’s appeal seems to hinge on an included product, the ZR50 Crave Control spray. The spray’s ingredients are included at a homeopathic dilution — which is another way of saying that they are there in minuscule quantities.
I just don’t feel a weight loss spray can really help. Sounds like just another way to make money.
Plan Z Diet ZR50 Crave Control Spray
The Plan Z YouTube channel has a video specifically about their Crave Control Spray. You can watch it below:
The video is nearly five minutes long, but it’s pretty light on content. The first minute or so is general sales-oriented storytelling which starts with problems with diet programs that rely on shakes, frozen meals or point systems. Then, they segue to Zola’s own story and talk about the success that others have had with Zola’s plan.
It’s not until you get to 1:48 that the video tells you what ZR50 is: a homeopathic solution. They then make a series of claims about the effects of the spray. According to the video, this spray will relieve the discomforts of dieting. It works from the idea that the body rebels when you go off sugar and artificial sweeteners, leaving you with withdrawal symptoms.
There are a lot of claims made here, but not a lot of support for them.
What Are Other People Saying?
The Plan Z website has a review section that is loaded with anonymous reviews attributed to sources like “Dieter Liz,” “Dieter Chuck,” or even just “Dieter Survey.” These, of course, are universally glowing. Some specifically list the amount of weight lost, while others just talk about how Plan Z changed their lives.
Reviews on the diet’s Facebook page are mostly positive. However, there is a negative review. In this one, a dieter says that it is the most they’ve ever paid for a plan and that the plan did not work for them. Outside of these, independent Zola diet reviews of Plan Z are hard to find.
Who Is This Program For?
According to the plan’s creators, this is a diet program that is for anyone who wants to lose weight. They say that it will work even for people who have issues like thyroid conditions that might make weight loss more difficult due to issues with metabolism. They also specifically claim that it is a good fit for women who are post-menopausal.
The diet involves home-cooked meals, but the creators say that the meals are easy enough that you can make them even if you think of yourself as a guy who can’t cook.
Having not gotten into the recipes myself, I can’t vouch for their simplicity or difficulty. I also do not know ether they typically use easy to find foods or whether they depend on harder to obtain ingredients.
There is a restaurant eating guide, so, theoretically, this diet can work even for people who do not cook. But, I would worry that the food restrictions might make it hard to choose compliant foods in many dining establishments.
My Opinion: Does It Really Work?
I have to say this: I’m skeptical.
There are a number of positive reviews on the Facebook page, which does suggest that it does work for some people. However, I have no way of knowing whether these users are average, or whether these are rare successes.
Paradoxically, the lack of negative reviews makes me leery of the positive ones. Every diet is going to work well for some people but not be a good fit for others. Without a range of feedback and experiences, I feel that there is not enough real world evidence of what this diet is like.
The lack of an exercise component makes me wonder how sustainable the diet is. Many of the claims do not seem to hold up to scientific rigor, particularly those related to the homeopathic spray.
I will say that, even if it does work, there are probably other places where you can get the same sort of recipes, community, and coaching support for a much lower price.
Why I Didn’t Buy
As you’ve probably seen, I don’t think very highly of the claims made by Plan Z. The spray looks like an expensive gimmick. And, the price tag is a big deterrent: even on sale or with a Plan Z coupon code, dieters will spend $597 to get on Plan Z. There is a “skeptic’s guarantee” that allows you to get a partial refund.
However, in order to qualify, you need to keep the kit for nine days, then send for a call tag to ship the contents of your diet kit back. And, after that, they say they will refund everything but $135. To me, that is still a lot of money to be out if I ultimately decide that a program is not providing what I want.
In all, I just didn’t think that what was being offered was worth the price. I knew there had to be better options that cost less and didn’t rely so heavily on poor science like homeopathy.
A Much Cheaper Alternative
During my search, I actually found a much cheaper option that I prefer. Metabolic Cooking provides simple but really delicious recipes for healthy foods that work with your metabolism.
It’s not really a diet per se, but more of a sustainable lifestyle change. The food is wholesome and varied, so you’re much more likely to stick with it. Right now, they’re offering a 50% discount, too, so this is far more affordable than Plan Z.
See some examples of the type of recipes you get, and much more!