The Serotonin Power Diet

Could Rice and Other Complex Carbohydrate Foods Be the Key to Health, Happiness AND Weight Loss?
New Research-Based Diet Helps Consumers Eat Better and Improve Mood

Press Release
Melissa McAllister/Barbara King
Pollock Communications

ARLINGTON, VA, -- According to the creators of The Serotonin Power Diet (Rodale Inc.), Judith Wurtman, PhD, and Nina T. Frusztajer, MD, carbohydrate foods, like rice, are essential to the body's ability to produce serotonin, which in turn both regulates mood and helps control appetite. The premise of their research-based, clinically-proven diet is that the brain needs complex carbohydrates to manufacture serotonin and when the brain manufactures enough serotonin, it improves mood and helps regulate appetite.

"Rice and other complex carbohydrates are mood foods," explains Dr. Wurtman, a scientist at the Clinical Research Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of The Serotonin Power Diet, "and without enough of them in the diet, people can get quite cranky." Wurtman has studied the role of carbohydrates for 30 years and has found that they provide a critical link to regulating the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Serotonin, according to Wurtman, is the brain's natural appetite suppressant. The brain and nervous system, which rely solely on carbohydrates as fuel, need 130 grams of carbohydrate a day to function properly, which is why the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies set a minimum requirement for carbohydrates at 130 grams per day.

Other major health organizations, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services, American Dietetic Association, American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association, recommend that the majority of one's calories come from carbohydrates. Specifically, it is recommended that adults get 45 to 65 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, 20 to 35 percent from fat, and 10 to 35 percent from protein.

The Serotonin Power Diet teaches dieters how to eat in order to maximize their bodies' serotonin production, resulting in fewer cravings, control over emotional overeating, feelings of well-being, and fast and effortless weight loss. Based on over 30 years of pioneering research on the connections between food, mood, brain, and appetite, Drs. Wurtman and Frusztajer devised and clinically tested this breakthrough program — created to let the brain — and not emotions — control food intake. At the Adara weight loss centers founded by the authors, they have guided hundreds of clients to successful weight loss on their simple real-life plan. In fact, clients have lost on average 2 pounds of pure fat (and not water weight) each week.

The program includes three phases of eating: Serotonin Surge, Serotonin Balance, and Serotonin Control. In the Serotonin Surge, the first phase, dieters will eat three satisfying meals plus three serotonin-boosting, high-carb snacks each day. These snacks can be foods like rice crackers, crunchy cereal, popcorn, pretzels, or fat free frozen yogurt. The three daily carbohydrate snacks are designed to bring about a rapid increase in the brain's production of serotonin. By following this plan, dieters feel an immediate control over their appetite and an improvement in their mood. To make sure that dieters feel satisfied after eating smaller portion sizes at meals, the dinners on this first phase of the program are mainly complex carbohydrate and vegetables. This ensures an elevated serotonin level after the meal so that appetite is truly satisfied and dieters feel calm and relaxed. After two weeks of boosting serotonin production, dieters will move into the second phase, Serotonin Balance, where they will remain for the next six weeks. Snacks are reduced to two per day, and the other meals shift their protein/carbohydrate balance to accommodate the difference.

The last phase of the diet, Serotonin Control, can be followed for as long as continued weight loss is the goal. Snack frequency drops to one per day, but the variety broadens dramatically.

The book includes a 12 week plan to follow, helpful kitchen tips and tricks and lots of easy-to-prepare delicious recipes like the one included below.

Rice, with more than 85 percent of its calories from energy-providing complex carbohydrates and less than one percent from fat, is an ideal grain to help people reach their carbohydrate intake goals and help the brain make more serotonin. In addition, a half cup serving of cooked rice has only 103-108 calories, contains 15 essential nutrients, is naturally sodium-, gluten- and cholesterol-free, has just a trace of fat, and contains no trans fat. It's also a perfect partner to many other healthy foods, like vegetables, beans, fish, lean meat and poultry.

Judith J. Wurtman, PhD, is recognized worldwide for her pioneering research into the relationship of food, mood, brain, and appetite. Wurtman is the author of five books for the general public and more than 40 peer-reviewed articles for professional publications. She received her Ph.D. at George Washington University and her B.A. at Wellesley College.

Nina T. Frusztajer, MD, received her master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University and her medical degree from George Washington University. Her articles on weight, stress, and lifestyle have appeared in numerous publications. With Judith Wurtman, she founded the Adara weight loss centers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, and Miami.

The Serotonin Power Diet, published by Rodale, Inc. is available now and can be purchased at and at all major bookstores.

Visit the USA Rice Federation website here.