Cooking Light Diet – What Is It and Does It Work?

These days, there are tons of different diet plans on the market, each one claiming to be better, healthier, and more effective than the last. It can be difficult to find the right diet for your needs. Sometimes, it gets so frustrating that you want to give up before you even start! 

The worst thing is that a lot of diets will let you drop weight quickly, but then you seem to gain even more weight back afterward. They can cause you to feel hopeless and depressed. Despite that, you're still looking for a great option. 

That's why this article takes an in-depth look at the Cooking Light Diet. We want to break it down for you so you know what it is and how it works. This will let you determine whether it's the right diet for your body's needs and lifestyle. 

This is a diet that is based on calorie restriction and portion control, not restricting your food and preventing you from having anything that tastes great. Keep reading to find out how it works! 

  • What is the Cooking Light Diet? 

The Cooking Light Diet is a subscription-based meal plan that is individually tailored and customized for your specific weight loss goals and nutritional needs. It focuses on allowing you to eat the foods you love and has thousands of different recipes and meal plans that cover breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sacks. This plan makes sure everything is planned for you in advance so you don’t have to stress from day to day about whether you’ve eaten enough or too much and if there are enough calories left for dinner. 

The diet offers complete daily meal plans that are customized to your preferred food choices and dietary restrictions. They let you select from thousands of options then make recipes and printable grocery lists for your shopping convenience. 

All of their meal plans ad recipes have been personally vetted by a team of chefs and nutritionists to ensure that they offer a holistic nutritional value, can vary calorie levels, taste delicious, and are super easy to make for even the most rudimentary cooks. 

Their meal planning tool is pretty easy to navigate and helps you stay on track. They even offer daily reminders along with the weekly meal plans and shopping lists to help you stay motivated. 

  •  Dietary Needs

A lot of diets can be really hard to balance with other needs. For example, oatmeal is widely regarded as one of the best breakfast options available and tons of dietary plans are very heavily slanted towards fish, but if you’re allergic to both of those things you’ll find it impossible to maintain that diet. Either you’ll get tired of eating the same 2 things or you’ll give up and eat what you want. 

That’s why Cooking Light tailors their foods to your needs. Just let them know your weight loss goals and special dietary considerations and they can work around allergies, diabetes, and other restrictions. 

Their Smart Carb diet focuses on whole foods with minimized processed foods and little to no added sugar. These plans are low in carbohydrates and don't include bread, desserts, sweets, carbohydrate-based entrées, or refined snack foods.

They also have gluten-free meal plans for anyone who is intolerant. They are also able to exclude any foods you are allergic to – whether it's milk, soy, fish, nuts, or more. If there's a food you just don't like, you can opt out of that as well.

They even have some great vegetarian meal plans. These will give you a grocery list that excludes meat products. This excludes milk and eggs as well. If you wish to try a vegan diet, they can do that, too. 

  • Shopping 

Once you’ve set your meal plan and menus, they will give you a set of printable grocery lists for the week. This list will include 21 meals and 7 snacks. The items will be grouped and organized by grocery store departments to make it easy for you to shop quickly and avoid temptation areas of the store. You can edit these lists, too, so if you already have some of the ingredients at home or you don't like something and want to leave it off the recipe, you can do that. 

  •  Benefits and Drawbacks to Consider

This diet plan requires a lot of foresight and planning, so the Cooking Light Diet may not be for everyone. The benefits you receive include weekly healthy eating plans, personalized meals, a community going through your experiences, a database full of recipes, a progress tracker, and a daily email.

Unfortunately, this diet doesn't include any food in and of itself. You will still need to come up with the money to buy all of the ingredients on their recipes at the grocery store, the time to shop for them, and even more, time spent cooking these items, many of which may not hold up well to advanced meal prepping. If you’re already really busy, this may not be the right plan for you. 

Studies have shown that people actually like the taste of healthy food when it’s made themselves. Cooking your own meals allows you a vested interest that increases the enjoyment once it's made. That's one of the advantages of having a diet plan that doesn't prepare meals for you but instead asks you to cook. As a bonus, you burn some calories off in the kitchen! A lot of people who think they don't like to cook end up discovering that they do. You can kick up some good music, pour yourself a glass of wine (or not, if it isn’t in the calorie allowance), and enjoy some time to yourself. 

  •  Does it work?

This diet focuses on portion control. Rather than focusing intensely on nutrition, rapid weight loss, cutting specific foods out, or other factors, this plan simply controls the amount of food you eat. It offers smaller portion sizes with fewer calories, which is a scientifically proven way to achieve a healthy rate of weight loss. If you follow the right portion sizing after leaving the diet, then you will find that you can maintain your weight loss. 

Unfortunately, it is also one of the hardest diets to maintain. Due to the hefty amount of time spent shopping and cooking everything a lot of people give up on it and abandon it quickly. It is not a convenient diet at all and it asks more of you than other diets with regards to preparation time before meals. If you’re unable or unwilling to devote the time, you’ll end up cheating and it won’t work as well.

As loathe as I am to toss around the term “lifestyle change” because of how overused it has become, the truth is that the phrase applies to this diet. This is less a diet plan and more a new way to cook and eat. You’re teaching yourself healthy portioning. Once you’ve dropped the weight you want to lose, you can adjust your caloric intake to a healthy level for maintenance based on your lifestyle, and keep going forever. 

This diet never claims to be a quick fix to shed weight and keep it off because it’s about finding the balance for weight loss then adjusting for weight maintenance and learning how to eat the right portion sizes and ingredients for a balanced and nutritious lifestyle. 

The goal of this diet is to teach you how to organize your mealtimes and cook fresh and delicious meals that keep you feeling full and have a lot of nutrition without the crap. It will work wonders, but only if you take it seriously and learn to permanently control your portions. 

  • Calorie Reduction 

This diet reduces your caloric intake to as little as 1200 calories per day. The calorie count will vary based on your weight, overall health, and target weight loss goals. The diet will work as long as you follow the rules. 

The number of calories you consume versus the number you burn off is critical to know in any weight loss management plan. Calories are necessary to fuel your body, but the excess becomes fat that gets stored on your body. 

You also need to choose the right types of food to lose weight and maintain it. Some foods have plenty of fiber, which will keep you feeling full longer. Others have lots of vitamins and minerals that can nourish your body. The Cooking Light Diet incorporates a ton of different foods, so you can be sure that you’re taken care of. 

Another important factor is drinking water. At least 9 to 12 cups a day is what is recommended to keep you properly hydrated and boost your metabolism. Having adequate hydration will also reduce hunger pangs, boost your energy, and keep you from feeling thirsty and reaching for less healthy drink options. 

  • Follow the Plan 

When you sign up, you enter some personal information. They ask for your name and email, as well as your weight, height, gender, and age. You will receive a password that will let you log in to the diet plan. 

The website will give you an introduction to the plan and an overview of how to use the website and all of its available features. Then, you start to get weekly menus on Thursdays, so you know what to shop for and which meals to prepare for the week. You can print them easily. 

This plan is something you should follow indefinitely. It tries to produce a lifestyle change rather than just a quick diet that ends in a couple of weeks or months. This is what helps you keep the weight off for life. 

The diet is essentially a cycle of planning meals and snacks, shopping for ingredients, and cooking the recipes. While they don’t have an app, they have made the website extremely mobile compatible. 

The key to success with the Cooking Light Diet is to follow the plan. You must follow the plan for it to work. If you slip up a couple of times you'll probably still lose weight but it won't be as much or as quickly as you planned to lose. Following the diet plans, they set forth will allow you to lose what you set out to based on your goals. 

  •  Side Effects

Although this is generally a safe diet to follow that is less radical than diet plans which ask you to completely eliminate different features of your diet, you should still check in with your doctor. The diet will more than likely be reducing your portion sizes significantly, and changing any part of your diet can lead to some different effects. 

Side effects of calorie-restrictive diets usually include withdrawal (if you've eliminated sugars and sweets that your body may be addicted to), headaches, fatigue, hunger pangs, changes in bowel movements, and nausea. These effects should fade within a couple of weeks, once your body has adjusted to the new diet plan and rid itself of the dependency for processed foods and sugars. 

Although the Cooking Light Diet plan has options for people with allergies to nuts, shellfish, gluten, and dairy, and has options available for diabetics and other issues, there are still some things to consider. First, if you do have a preexisting condition like heart problems or diabetes, you should definitely talk to your doctor before starting this plan. This is especially true for anyone taking medication or prescription drugs. 

If you are pregnant or nursing, then you should wait to start this plan until after you have finished. You should also be mindful of allergies that aren’t specifically addressed with the plan and be sure to choose recipes that don’t include anything you’re allergic to. 

  •  How much does the Cooking Light Diet cost?

The price of this diet varies based on the plan you choose. The lowest plan is around $1.52 each week, but some plans can cost as much as $5 each week. Keep in mind that this price is for the menu plans and recipes, and does not include the cost of any food o ingredients you will need to follow the menu plans. 

Some places have coupon codes for the diet. Check out Coupon Chief, Good Shop, and Offers.com. Most of these coupons will take 15% off of any purchase. They do not offer any free trials, because logging in will give you access to their entire database of recipes and grocery lists to print out. 

You can cancel your subscription by logging in and going to your Settings, then selecting the subscription tab and clicking Stop Automatic Renewal. The company offers several cookbooks online, as well, if you are curious about the recipes but don’t want to pay for the plan. 

  •  Variety 

One of the things that help with the Cooking Light Diet is that there is a ton of variety. Unlike a lot of other plans, which can be so restrictive that you're forced to eat the same thing all the time, this diet has thousands of recipes so you will never run out of combinations to try and recipes to enjoy. 

This is essentially a trade-off. It is probably much easier to go buy some frozen meals from Weight Watchers or Lean Cuisine or have them delivered through NutriSystem, but their plans offer very few options, and those options become even fewer if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions. This diet will take a lot longer to prepare, and be far less convenient when you just want to grab food and eat in a matter of minutes, but it offers thousands of different recipes. 

Making sure you vary your meals will ensure that you can successfully follow the diet for extended periods of time. You won’t burn out of the same foods over and over again. You can experience new flavors and bookmark the favorites that you don’t mind repeating for a truly customizable experience that doesn’t feel like it’s bogging you down in rules. 

You might even find out that you have some new favorite foods! Seriously, if you’ve never tried something you won’t know what you like. Adult taste preferences are different than children. Our bodies change our flavor preferences pretty regularly throughout our lives, so something you hated 10 years ago might end up being a favorite food now. 

  •  Sample Meals

Here's an example of one of the meals on their plan. For this day, the calorie intake was 1,315. Breakfast was an open-faced fried egg BLT sandwich (204 calories) with a medium orange (62 calories) and coffee with 1 tablespoon of half and half (22 calories, mostly from the half and half). Lunch was a tuna and white bean salad (270 calories) with 9 multigrain pita chips (270 calories). If you don't like tuna, there are other options. Dinner was pasta with spinach and tomatoes (33 calories) and 6 ounces of red wine (144 calories). See – told you earlier than red wine was allowable!! For a snack, you got a banana and milk chocolate s’mores (140 calories)! 

Another example includes a breakfast of 3-ingredient pancakes, made from whole grains, fruit, and 1 egg. Lunch for the day was a chicken and quinoa salad with arugula and pistachios. For dinner, an easy Thai steak noodle bowl can be made, and your daily snack was no-bake chewy granola bars. 

  •  Take the pressure off of restrictions 

One of the quickest ways to sabotage a diet is by permanently denying yourself access to some of your favorites. Yes, eliminating sugars and sodas is healthy. Yes, it's a good idea if you want to lose weight. However, if all you are going to do is fixate on this craving you have that you aren't allowed to touch then it becomes just as unhealthy and will lead to you dropping entirely off the bandwagon.

Give yourself a couple of weeks without it so your body can detoxify and free itself from addiction to the item. After that, if you want a chocolate chip cookie, then have one. The key is… have ONE. The good thing about a calorie based diet is that it allows for little splurges when you want a beer or a dessert or a carb-heavy pasta or pizza night. You just need to adjust the rest of your meals that day to allow for it and remember to keep the splurge to a manageable portion size. 

  •  Be Accountable

One of the differences between this plan and other popular options is that the Cooking Light Diet doesn't have meetings and weigh-ins. You have to be accountable for your own diet plan. No one can force you to plan, or shop, or cook the meals. You have to do that yourself and have the willpower to avoid straying from the plan.

A lot of people find that keeping a food journal helps them with this. It forces them to think through everything they put in their mouths when they know there will be a record of it available and that they have to write it down. Others don’t find that this works well because it just leads them to obsess and stress. 

The online center does have a community, so you may be able to find some help from others on the plan. Unfortunately, with online accountability, it gets easy to fudge the truth and fail to mention certain things because you aren’t meeting face to face. Just make sure you have enough willpower to handle the diet. 



As you can see, the Cooking Light Diet is a great plan for people willing to put in the work to maintain their lifestyle. It isn't a quick fix like other diets, where you will rapidly drop weight, but it is built as a long term maintenance solution that will help you naturally start eating healthier options and controlling your portions. If you’re willing to put in the work to cook, this is a great diet plan for you!

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