Consistently ranked as one of the best short-term weight loss diets on the market, the Health Management Resources (HMR) Diet is popular among dieters looking for a quick and convenient way to drop extra weight.

Unlike other plans, it requires next to no effort and relies on pre-packaged products to replace high-calorie foods.

However, concerns have been raised on its effectiveness, safety and ability to promote long-lasting weight loss and maintenance.

This article reviews the HMR diet, its effectiveness, potential benefits and drawbacks.

RATING SCORE BREAKDOWN
  • Overall score: 2.5
  • Fast weight loss: 4
  • Long-term weight loss: 2
  • Easy to follow: 3
  • Nutrition quality: 1

BOTTOM LINE: The HMR diet consists mostly of pre-packaged foods to reduce calorie intake. This calorie restriction may cause short-term weight loss. Yet, it's expensive, very low-calorie and not sustainable in the long term.

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The HMR Diet replaces regular foods in your diet with pre-packaged entrees, shakes and snacks to cut calories and support weight loss.

The plan is divided into two phases — a weight loss phase followed by a weight maintenance phase.

During the first phase, it’s recommended to consume only HMR products along with extra servings of fruits and vegetables.

It follows a “3+2+5 plan,” which involves eating at least three HMR shakes, two HMR entrees and five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

During the second phase, regular foods are slowly reintroduced and enjoyed alongside two HMR products per day.

Certain plans also include support from online health coaches, medical supervision and in-person meetings, depending on your location.

Summary The HMR Diet uses pre-packaged meals and shakes in place of regular foods. It’s divided into two phases — the first focuses on HMR products, fruits and vegetables, while the second reintroduces more regular foods.

The HMR Diet is very low-calorie — with each meal providing fewer than 300 calories and shakes 100–160 calories each.

If you eat only the recommended amount, you would consume about 1,000 calories per day, plus a few hundred extra from the additional servings of fruits and vegetables.

Eating fewer calories than you expend is key to losing weight. Therefore, cutting calories by following the HMR Diet could be beneficial if weight loss is your primary goal.

The plan also challenges dieters to burn at least 2,000 calories per week through physical activity, which may increase weight loss even more.

Additionally, many studies have demonstrated that meal replacements can produce significant weight loss (1, 2, 3).

In fact, one 40-week study in 90 people showed that those following a meal replacement program lost more weight than those on a food-based diet (4).

The HMR diet also promotes eating fruits and vegetables, which are low in calories but high in micronutrients and fiber to help keep you feeling fuller for longer (5).

Summary Studies show that meal replacement programs can be effective at increasing weight loss. The HMR diet also aids weight loss by promoting physical activity, increasing fruit and vegetable intake and reducing calories.

The HMR Diet is easy to follow, as the pre-packaged meals are delivered directly to you, and very little meal planning or cooking is required.

This can save you time and energy and negates the need to meticulously track, weigh or measure calories, carbs or portion sizes.

Plus, because the plan is pre-planned and pre-portioned, it makes it easy to meet your nutritional needs and fill in any gaps in your diet by providing vitamins and minerals that your body needs.

Additionally, meal replacement programs may offer health benefits that extend beyond weight loss.

In fact, studies show that these programs may improve blood sugar levels, blood pressure and “good” HDL cholesterol levels (6, 7).

Summary The HMR diet is easy to follow and requires very little extra time and energy. Studies show that meal replacement programs may also improve blood sugar, blood pressure and “good” HDL cholesterol levels.

The HMR Diet is very restrictive, and eating non-HMR foods is highly discouraged during the first phase of the plan until desired weight loss is achieved.

Therefore, the diet may get repetitive over time and can cause feelings of deprivation, which may lead to an increased risk of overeating (8).

The diet may also be hard to sustain in the long term and can get pricey, with starter plans beginning at $189 for a three-week supply — not including additional foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

Plus, the plan is very low in calories and may not supply enough for some people, especially those who are highly active or have increased calorie needs.

While cutting calories is essential to weight loss, decreasing your calorie intake too much can have negative effects on health.

Very-low-calorie diets may not only lower your metabolism but also increase your risk of bone loss and fertility and immunity issues (9, 10, 11, 12).

Following the HMR Diet for a prolonged period without making adjustments to your diet or activity levels may increase your risk of these adverse effects.

However, supplementing with additional snacks or extra servings of fruits and vegetables as needed is a simple way to increase your calorie intake and ensure you’re meeting your needs.

Summary The HMR Diet is very restrictive, pricey and may not supply enough calories for those who are physically active or have increased needs.

During the first phase of the plan, you’re advised to consume only HMR products, which include pre-packaged entrees, shakes, soups and bars.

The only additional foods allowed during this phase are fruits and vegetables.

It’s recommended to consume at least three HMR shakes, two HMR entrees and five servings of vegetables and fruit each day.

Once you have reached your desired weight loss goal, you can transition to the second phase, which reintroduces a greater variety of regular foods.

During this phase, you should still eat about two pre-packaged HMR products per day but may also include additional meals.

Here are some of the foods that can be included on the diet:

  • HMR entrees, shakes and snacks
  • Fruits: Apples, blueberries, peaches, apricots, strawberries, bananas, blackberries, etc.
  • Vegetables: Asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, cauliflower, potatoes, etc.
  • Red meat: Lean cuts of beef, pork, lamb, etc. (during phase 2)
  • Poultry: Skinless chicken, turkey, etc. (during phase 2)
  • Fish: Salmon, codfish, tuna, flounder, pollock, etc. (during phase 2)
  • Whole grains: Oats, quinoa, buckwheat, barley, brown rice, etc. (during phase 2)
  • Legumes: beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas (during phase 2)
Summary During the first phase of the diet, it’s recommended to consume only HMR products, fruits and vegetables. During the second phase, additional healthy foods like whole grains, lean meats, legumes and seeds are permitted.

Though non-HMR foods — aside from fruits and veggies — can slowly be added during the maintenance phase, it’s still recommended to stick to low-calorie options and minimize high-fat and high-calorie foods.

Here are some of the foods that should be avoided in both phases of the diet:

  • Red-meat products: Hamburger, pork, bacon, sausage, cold cuts, etc.
  • Full-fat dairy: Ice cream, cheese, frozen yogurt, sweetened yogurt, etc.
  • Beverages: Alcohol, fruit juice, soda, etc.
  • Condiments: Sugar, cream cheese, high-fat gravy, butter, salad dressing, mayonnaise, peanut butter, etc.
  • Prepared foods: Fried foods, pizza, chips, pretzels, fast food, baked goods, French fries, etc.
Summary During the second phase of the plan, regular foods can be reintroduced, but high-calorie, high-fat foods should still be avoided to keep calorie consumption in moderation.

Here’s a one-week meal plan that highlights some of the options for the first phase of the HMR Diet:

Monday

  • Breakfast: HMR Multigrain Hot Cereal with 1 cup (150 grams) of strawberries
  • Snack: HMR 500 Vanilla Shake
  • Lunch: HMR Vegetable Stew with 1 cup (140 grams) of butternut squash
  • Snack: HMR 120 Chocolate Shake and 1 cup (about 170 grams) of mixed fruit
  • Dinner: HMR Pasta Fagioli with 2 cups (240 grams) of carrots
  • Snack: HMR 800 Chocolate Shake

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: HMR 800 Chocolate Shake with 1 cup (150 grams) of bananas
  • Snack: HMR 500 Chocolate Shake with 1 cup (240 grams) of fruit salad
  • Lunch: HMR Lasagna with 1 cup (80 grams) of eggplant
  • Snack: HMR 120 Vanilla Shake
  • Dinner: HMR Chicken Enchiladas with 2 cups (140 grams) of cabbage slaw

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: HMR 120 Vanilla Shake with 1 cup (120 grams) of raspberries
  • Snack: HMR 800 Chocolate Shake with 1 cup (150 grams) of strawberries
  • Lunch: HMR Mushroom Risotto with 1 cup (90 grams) of broccoli
  • Snack: HMR 120 Vanilla Shake
  • Dinner: HMR Savory Chicken with 2 cups (300 grams) of mixed veggies

Thursday

  • Breakfast: HMR Multigrain Hot Cereal with 1 cup (150 grams) of blueberries
  • Snack: HMR 120 Vanilla Shake with one apple
  • Lunch: HMR Turkey Chili with 2 cups (300 grams) of tomatoes
  • Snack: HMR 500 Vanilla Shake
  • Dinner: HMR Penne Pasta with Meatballs and 1 cup (110 grams) of summer squash
  • Snack: HMR 800 Chocolate Shake

Friday

  • Breakfast: HMR 500 Chocolate Shake with 1 cup (145 grams) of blackberries
  • Snack: HMR 800 Vanilla Shake
  • Lunch: HMR Rotini Chicken Alfredo with 2 cups (270 grams) of asparagus
  • Snack: HMR 500 Chocolate Shake with one banana
  • Dinner: HMR Beef Stroganoff with 1 cup (145 grams) of peas

Saturday

  • Breakfast: Multigrain Hot Cereal with 1 cup (150 grams) of peaches
  • Snack: HMR 120 Chocolate Shake
  • Lunch: HMR Lentil Stew with 1 cup (100 grams) of cauliflower
  • Snack: HMR 500 Vanilla Shake with 1 cup (150 grams) of strawberries
  • Dinner: HMR Chicken Pasta Parmesan with 2 cups (140 grams) of mushrooms
  • Snack: HMR 120 Chocolate Shake

Sunday

  • Breakfast: HMR 120 Vanilla Shake with 1 cup (155 grams) of apricots
  • Snack: HMR 800 Vanilla Shake
  • Lunch: HMR Cheese and Basil Ravioli with 2 cups (60 grams) of spinach
  • Snack: HMR 500 Chocolate Shake
  • Dinner: HMR Barbecue Chicken with 1 cup (110 grams) of green beans
Summary The above meal plan gives you an idea of the HMR products, fruits and vegetables to include during the first phase of the diet.

The HMR Diet focuses on HMR products, fruits and vegetables and only reintroduces more regular foods during its second phase.

Calorie restriction, regular exercise and increased fruits and vegetable intake may aid short-term weight loss.

Still, the diet is very restrictive, pricey and may not be suitable in the long term.