NEW YORK – Philip Goglia wants to knock down the food pyramid that currently dictates Americans' diets, and he wants to do it with three simple words: Eat more food.
"I want to break through that old pyramid, show that eating is OK and that there are better ways to eat," Goglia said from his Venice Beach, Calif., office. "Fifty-nine-point-six percent of the population is overweight. One-third of the population is diabetic. The current one food pyramid obviously doesn't work for us or we wouldn't have these problems."
He's put down his new food pyramid scheme in a book, Turn Up the Heat, to be published this spring.
Goglia, a former bodybuilder, has devised three food pyramids that are more personalized than the government dietary guidelines -- and they've all got their share of critics.
"I think the current food pyramid as it stands is fine," American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Julie Walsh said. "This sounds like just another diet."
Or another three diets.
Goglia has dieters take a blood test and work out their family history to determine whether they fall into one of three categories: people who process fat and proteins most efficiently (about 74 percent), people who process carbohydrates best (about 23 percent), or dual-metabolism folks (3 percent). Goglia charges about $500 for a testing session at his clinic.
He said the category a person belongs to is permanent and determined by upbringing and heredity. And Goglia has profoundly different diets for each category:
-- Protein-efficient people get 50 percent of their calories from protein, 25 percent from fat and 25 percent from carbs.
-- Carb-efficient people get 68 percent of their calories from carbs and the balance from fats and proteins.
-- Dual-metabolic people get their nutrition in equal thirds.
Dieters eat five to seven planned meals a day and drink lots of water. Exercise isn't as critical as others would have you believe, according to Goglia.
"So you bought the 'Hot Buns' tape," Goglia said. "Exercise is not going to change your physique."
And watching calories? Forget it.
"Most people are so fearful of food, they generally undereat," Goglia said. "The whole focus on calories is a major sin. It's completely wrong."
Goglia is tipping his scales far away from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's calorie-strict pyramid, which recommends meager helpings of fat, moderate amounts of protein and loads of carbs.
Sean Gray, a 31-year-old computer administrator and "dual-metabolism" dieter, said Goglia's system has him eating perhaps double what he used to. But he's lost an average five pounds a week since he began the program 12 weeks ago. He's gone from 270 pounds to 229 pounds and a cholesterol level of 240 to 150.
Andrew Kofki, 44, a protein-efficient dieter said he lost about 20 pounds in a year even though he doesn't exercise more than he used to and doesn't watch how much he eats.
And Lori Mosich, 40, added: "If you ate all these brownies and cookies, (Goglia) doesn't yell at you. He says, 'Hey, didn't you bring me some?'"
But the USDA stands by its venerable food pyramid. John Webster, spokesman for the Center of Nutrition Policy and Promotion, said the agency doesn't comment on all the newfangled pyramids out there.
"There's a new book seems like every few weeks that tries to promote one thing or another," he said. "We just don't even get into the debate."
Walsh is skeptical of the Goglia program, saying the high-protein diet he recommends for most people could lead to kidney disease, and that Goglia is misinterpreting the causal connection between diet and disease.
"It sounds like a gimmicky way to tell people how to eat," she said.
Worst of all, she said, the diet ignores the fundamentals of eating science.
"Calories do count, and I think we know that obesity is due to energy in versus energy out," she said. "If you're burning more calories than you consume, you lose weight. If you consume more than you burn, you gain weight."
But Goglia is convinced his three-pyramid scheme will change America's waistlines.
"I want to be the guy on the president's council for nutrition," he said. "I want people to know there's more than one way to eat."