Updated: 01/14/2018

The Harcombe Diet Review - 5 Things You Need to Know


In the diet industry, don’t mistake marketing for effectiveness. We took the time to come up with a detailed review of The Harcombe Diet, examining the ingredients, side effects, clinical research and customer-service quality. We also looked closely at numerous user remarks and comments that are posted online. At this point, we summarized and condensed all of the facts and feedback we found to give you the info you really need.

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What is The Harcombe Diet?

To start with, The Harcombe Diet is a weight-loss book written by Zoe Harcombe. She is a graduate from Cambridge University, and has a passion for obesity. This eating plan basically tells you to “stop counting calories and start losing weight.” This diet has three different phases. It encourages you to eat real food and ditch fake or processed foods. The first phase is five days long, and you focus on unlimited vegetables, meat, eggs and fish. The second phase lasts until you reach your weight-loss goal. The third phase is for the rest of your life so you can maintain your weight.

From what we gathered, this diet plan has been available since 2011. The Harcombe Diet ingredients simply include real foods. No dietary supplements are needed. You can easily purchase this book on Amazon in paperback or the Kindle version. It is 336 pages in length, and both women and men of all body types can use this approach, but read on…

Increased Hunger – “Can You Handle It?”

One concern we have is increased hunger. “Some people have reported unpleasant feelings of hunger while on The Harcombe Diet. Therefore this weight-loss plan may be too restrictive for some dieters,” says our Research Editor.

One user commented, “I was hungrier and felt more deprived than another food plan I have tried. She makes it sound so easy and fills one with hope only to have it be a horrific experience.”

Then again, a different dieter said this, “I did lose some weight on this diet, but got very bored. Unfortunately, The Harcombe Diet side effects may include hunger.”

Another posted, “Some good info, but it was very repetitive, covering the same thing over and over to make it a longer book I suspect.”

Reviews of The Harcombe Diet – “Any Positives?”

Another issue is user complaints, fortunately, not relating to Harcombe Diet side effects. For instance, one person stated, “I was shocked at how bad this book is. This book was horribly written and presented, and very hard to read. It was like reading a brain washing infomercial. So much repetition and bullet points.”

On the other hand, a different dieter mentioned, “Interesting and informative, but a little long winded.”

“This book is the same thing over and over again. Do you know how hard it is not to eat any processed foods and nothing with sugar or “ose” in it? Very hard,” posted another.

Our research has shown if there is some particular part of a diet program that is especially problematic (increased hunger, user complaints, low Amazon star rating) the odds of real success for the long haul are not good. So, if The Harcombe Diet does in fact leave a lot of people feeling hungry and dissatisfied, this could be a serious dilemma.

The Science – “Solid?”

We at DietSpotlight need to see some actual science that supports the diet program we’re investigating. Sadly we did not pinpoint any documented research on the official website that backs up The Harcombe Diet. However, cutting out processed foods can be beneficial when it comes to losing weight.

The Bottom Line – Does The Harcombe Diet Work?

So, should you give The Harcombe Diet a shot? Well, first off, we like that this weight-loss plan is suitable for people of all body types and ages. It’s also good to see that you do not have to count calories all the time. However, we have some reservations about this diet approach because it seems to leave some people feeling hungry and dissatisfied. Furthermore, we’re concerned about the discouraging user comments we found regarding the quality of this text.

If you’d like to drop more weight, then we suggest you choose a diet program or supplement that is backed by solid research, does not leave you feeling hungry or dissatisfied and gives you plenty of bang for your buck.

Among the best products we’ve seen this year is one called Dietspotlight Burn. Its formula is a proprietary blend of four ingredients, which have demonstrated in published clinical research to help speed up fat loss and boost metabolism. Moreover, we can’t find any negative talk or feedback, and user comments around the web indicate people are seeing wonderful results.

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Learn More About Burn HD »
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Previous The Harcombe Diet Review (Updated September 11, 2012):

What You Should Know about The Harcombe Diet

The Harcombe Diet was developed by Zoe Harcombe as an alternative to calorie counting diets. The idea is that most current diets are actually causing the obesity problem, because they fight against your body instead of working with it.

Zoe Harcombe began researching for this diet when she was a student at Cambridge University and began wondering why she couldn't stop eating when she wanted so much to be slim. The diet was developed from 20 years of research, which led her to several conclusions, including the conclusion that the calorie theory is wrong.

The Harcombe Diet appears to focus on what types of food you eat and in what combinations, rather than how much. It advocates eating natural foods as opposed to processed foods.

List of Ingredients

Not applicable; this is a diet plan, not an herbal weight loss supplement.

Product Features of The Harcombe Diet

The Harcombe Diet works in three phases. Phase 1 is five days long and is the quickest part of weight loss; according to the website, the record weight loss is 17 pounds, which sounds somewhat unrealistic. Phase 2 teaches three rules to help you reach your natural weight and maintain it. Phase 3 teaches you how to 'cheat' so that you can eat your favorite foods and still maintain your natural weight.

The diet also highlights three conditions that affect weight gain: Candida, Food Intolerance, and Hypoglycemia. These conditions are more fully explained in Ms. Harcombe's book.

To learn all the details of this diet, the dieter must purchase Zoe Harcombe's book, Stop Counting Calories and Start Losing Weight. There is also a cookbook, Stop Counting Calories and Start Losing Weight Recipe Book, and an additional book titled Why Do You Overeat? When All You Want Is To Be Slim.

Advantages of The Harcombe Diet

  • Price of the book starts at $8 online new. It is difficult to determine what the cost of cooking differently will be, however. The natural foods recommended may be expensive.
  • Does not require counting calories or eating small portions, except possibly in Phase 1, the detox phase.

Disadvantages of The Harcombe Diet

  • Has some unrealistic weight loss claims.
  • Has a lack of before/after photos.
  • Has no money-back guarantee.
  • Has no free gift with purchase.
  • Does not highlight the importance of regular exercise.
  • May cause acid buildup in joints.
  • Can cause headaches in Phase 1.


The Harcombe Diet sounds like a fairly original idea, but there is not enough detail on the website to explain the diet before you purchase the book. There appears to be a good amount of research in the development of the diet, but there is not much research in testing it to prove if it really works.

The Harcombe Diet needs to present more evidence before it can be fully recommended. It is a diet plan, not an herbal weight loss supplement.

Summer Banks Dietspotlight Author
About the Author:

Summer Banks, Director of Content at Dietspotlight, has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with doctors specializing in weight loss and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University. full bio.

20 The Harcombe Diet Reviews

  • Diane

    Can you use artificial sweeteners like Stevia on this diet?

    • Your Name


    • Maribel (Editor)

      Hi Dianne! For detailed diet instructions, please refer to The Harcombe official website for more information.

  • Need to stop drinking coffee?
    nina (Verified User)

    do i have to stop drinking coffee ? Can i make an exception? (coffee in the morning with unfatty milk )?

    • Jeanne

      Nina you have to drink decaffeinated coffee and tea. Get the book “stop counting calories and start losing weight”, its well written and is a great reference point.( dont take my word for it check out the Amazon reviews) I have lost just short of 2 and a half stone since Jan this year and I feel amazing. Good luck with it

    • Your Name

      I never gave up my regular coffee in the morning and still lost weight.

    • Maribel (Editor)

      Hi Nina! For detailed diet instructions, please refer to The Harcombe official website for more information

  • Dawn

    Having followed this diet several years ago, I would say that it was fantastic. There is some hunger and other adverse symptoms in the first 5 days, which are just whilst your body is ridding itself of the build up of toxins and of the 3 medical conditions discussed (I’m sure it does say this in the book). However, after getting over the medical conditions, there should never be any feelings of hunger, as you can eat unlimited amounts of your chosen foods. The important aspect of the diet is the combination in which you eat your foods, and the avoidance of processed foods. I found this to be the least restrictive diet I have ever done, as you can eat lots of nice, natural foodstuffs.

  • Amazing diet

    Amazing diet. Works like a dream. 1st week is hard but food cravings go. Then weight just falls off

    • Krystal

      Thus is the only diet I have been able to stay on and ai lost 9 pounds on my first 5 days!

  • It would be greatly appreciated if someone would get back with me.
    Doris phelps

    I Don’t know who exactly you are didn’t sign up for your club but somehow soone got my bank uinformation and took it upin thier self to remove money. so it would be greatly appreciated if someone would get back with ne.

  •  Highly recommended diet for life
    SteveNL (Verified User)

    I’ve been on the diet for 4 months, went from 90kg to 75kg (target weight)by following the very simple rules. It’s definitely not cost me any more than I used to spend on food, in fact it probably saves me money. Highly recommended diet for life.

  •  Feeling amazing
    Mr Hutchings (Verified User)

    I have only done it for a week (5 Days) it couldn’t be simpler; Eat real food, nothing made by man! I have lost 8lds (4kg) in 5 days, no exercise at all! I’m now going onto phase two, which gives me even more variety of food, meats, vegetables, rice, what else is needed? Honestly I was sceptical; an auntie recommended it so i thought i would give it a go! I usually eat all day every day including crisps and chocolate before and after dinner! Not touched them in 8 days! I have tried all sorts of diets, even lost a stone going to the gym three days a week for 3 months, never kept that up so put it all back on again. The main thing about this diet is it really makes you think about what you eat. Quit smoking with Alan Carr, my life is all uphill from here!
    I feel amazing, sleeping better and waking up with a spring in my step. If i can say anything then it would be give it a go and try it, 5 days to make a difference for the rest of your life!

  •  It works!
    lee willcox (Verified User)

    I am losing a pound every 2 or 3 days.
    It’s simple easy and it really does work

  •  Healthy cooking and eating habit
    Tim (Verified User)

    I went on the diet in January, wasn’t a big guy but wanted to trim up for the summer. Lost 6lbs in the first week and 14lbs in 5 weeks (7kg) with hardly any exercise. Phase 1 was tough but Phase 2 is easy, never hungry. I’ve kept the weight off for 3mths now just by being careful about amount of carbs I eat with meat and also alcohol during the week. splurge on burgers, chips and alcohol on weekends and have had no trouble keeping the weight off. If nothing else once you’re done you’ve learned alot about healthy cooking and eating habits. My friend’s mum has lost 4stone (24kg) on this diet in 4 months. Highly recommend it.

  •  Just follow the procedures
    Nick (Verified User)

    this diet is awesome – im a big fella – i like food no doubt about it – an eat less do more diet would never work for me. This diet allows you to still eat plenty and not feel hungry, just eat right. I followed the book and lost 21 kg in just over 2 months

  •  I have lost 13kg in under 5 months
    Yvonne (Verified User)

    The easiest diet I have ever had to follow. A few simple guidelines to follow and you can pretty much eat what you want. I have lost 13kg in under 5 months.

  •  Its very good.
    bubbles ive (Verified User)

    i have bought the recipe book but i would like to get hold of a copy of the article in, I think Cosmopolitan, a year or two ago which listed meals for the first five days and which I found so easy to follow. I am going to start again so it would help a lot if i could get a copy. I have bought the recipe book but the article made it easy and, therefore, more likely I and my husband will follow. We were very pleased by the results last time but drifted away after a few months due to Christmas etc!

  •  I know now this isn't for me.

    Thank you for your honest review, I’ve been asking questions about this diet to see if it met my needs and haven’t received any answers. Probably because I already have a little acid build up in my joints and someone wanted me to buy the book first… Then again, maybe not. Either way, I know now this isn’t for me, I’m disappointed but happy I found out now instead of later

  •  Bought the book and it works!
    Oscar Schmidt (Verified User)

    Bought the book and it works!! The best diet you can go on and also the healthiest. Highly recommended.