Dr Sam S. Berman MD, Medical Director of the Boston Police Department Weight Control Program, began with 54 men, in August 1965. In six weeks, they lost over 1000 lbs of fat, between them.

The book was written in 1972, after 400 Boston police officers had lost 26,000 pounds in total.

Generally, the book doesn’t go into great detail on results, preferring to explain how the police officers were taught to eat. That’s understandable, for a mass market paperback with the goal of losing weight

Decades before Gary Taubes, Dr Berman told Boston police officers that a calorie “is just a unit of energy and heat and units aren’t fattening”. He asked them to decide whether they really believed that anyone could get overweight by eating lettuce. Dr Berman emphasised that it’s not the amount of food which causes obesity, but the nature of the food itself. He asked the police officers to stick a hand up if they hadn’t eaten pie, doughnuts, beer, corn, potatoes, cake, cookies, sugared cereals, pasta and ice cream. Not one officer out of the 54 present, could do this.

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Photo by NastyaSensei on

Berman explains metabolism in terms of a car and says that as fat has 9 calories per gram and carbs have 4 calories per gram, fat is the superior fuel.

Suggested breakfasts are a hamburger with egg(s) any way or a 5-6 oz steak with eggs, or 3-4 strips (rashers) of bacon with eggs, or kippers, or scrambled eggs and cottage cheese, or salami or bologna with eggs, or cold roast or chicken, or strawberries and cream (no sugar),or half an usweetened grapefruit, followed by coffee or tea.

Dr Berman allows unsweetened tomato or grapefruit juice, which aren’t recommended on low carb, these days.

Photo by Théroigne S B G Russell

For lunch, if wanted, he suggests cottage cheese or hard-boiled eggs with salad vegetables, or canned sardines, tuna, salmon with oil drained off. It’s probably better to buy fish canned in spring water and add a higher quality oil of your choice, if you wish.

Berman suggests steak, hamburger, roast or chicken for dinners. Turkey or fish (no batter if fried) and regular servings of vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli, string (runner) beans and mushrooms. Soups should be clear or at least not thickened with flour.

Recommended vegetables are asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cucumbers, escarole, eggplant (aubergine), lettuce, mushrooms, okra, green peppers, radishes, sauerkraut (without added sugar), scallion, squash (simmer), string (runner) beans, tomatoes, turnips and watercress.

Recommended fruits are cantaloupe, grapefruit, orange, strawberries and tangerines.

ripe strawberries in white plate on table
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Berman’s recipes:

Shrimp remoulade, tuna salad, baked halibut, baked haddock, shrimp salad, chicken salad, avocado dressing, cucumbers in sour cream, marinated steak, hamburger in tomato sauce, broccoli Parmesan and French-fried turnips (tried, using summer turnips from Riverford and they are awesome, also great sautéed). Also, frosted hot asparagus, Italian-style green beans, ‘bovine hash’, antipasto, cucumber salad, sour cream dressing, blue cheese dressing, Hollandaise, chopped liver and a few little appetizer/snacks.

There are a few tweaks needed here and there but all of the recipes could be eaten, over forty years later.

There’s general advice about cutting down on drinking, keeping on track and steering teenagers away from fast food, as well.

It is important to note, that Dr Berman put all participants from second cohort onwards, on a plain uncoated thyroid supplement at their request, because those on the supplement lost three times as much weight. He also prescribed a twice weekly diuretic, for those deemed to be excreting insufficiently. Please do NOT attempt medication to lose weight, without discussing it with your doctor first.

Boston Police Diet and Weight Control Program | wordsfordinner 2011

The Boston Police Diet and Weight Control Program : Berman, Sam S : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive Donated by Boston Public Library and with digitization sponsored by the Kahle/Austin Foundation, this book is free to read as an ebook at

It is still available as a paperback from the likes of Amazon. eBay and secondhand book stores.

Verdict: If you have a lot of low carb books, don’t bother buying. Buy for novelty value, if you wish. Realise results are skewed by thyroid supplement and sometimes diuretics.

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