Secrets From the Eating Lab

The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again

Traci Mann


From her Health and Eating Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, Professor Traci Mann researches self-control and dieting. And what she has discovered is groundbreaking: not only do diets not work, they often result in weight gain.

In Secrets from the Eating Lab, Mann challenges assumptions—including those that make up the foundation of the weight loss industry—about how diets work and why they fail. As Mann explains, most weight loss plans are reliant on the notion of willpower—and willpower is an illusion. Moreover, even when we are able to successfully lose weight, our bodies fight our efforts, seeking to regain the weight we’ve worked so hard to lose. In the end, we become chronic “yo-yo” dieters, destined to lose and regain the same pounds time and again. The diet industry is well aware of these facts and has tellingly built their business model on the concept of the “repeat customer”; they know we’ll be back.

In this book, Mann presents an arsenal of simple, commonsense strategies that take advantage of human nature instead of fighting it—helping you to achieve a healthy and sustainable weight.


Traci Mann

Traci Mann, Ph.D. , is professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota and is an expert on the psychology of eating, dieting, and self-control. She was a tenured professor at UCLA before moving to the University of Minnesota, where she founded the Health and Eating Lab. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Aeronautics and Space Association (NASA). She lives with her husband, University of Minnesota professor of psychology Stephen Engel, and their two sons in Edina, Minnesota.



Secrets From the Eating Lab exposes the flawed logic and faulty science upon which the diet industry is founded. It’s time we all look at the facts: diets are ineffective. Traci Mann’s innovative research reveals a better, more effective path to sustainable weight loss.” Jonathan Bailor, New York Times bestselling author of The Calorie Myth

Secrets From the Eating Lab offers a behind-the-scenes look into one of the most ingenious and creative labs in the country. In her clever book, Mann provides key insights and practical lessons that will make you think about-and then change-the way you eat.” Brian Wansink PhD, author of Mindless Eating and Slim by Design

“In a seemingly endless parade of ‘new’ fad diets, we are in great need of Dr. Traci Mann, an open-minded iconoclast who exposes the diet mega-industry’s hype-filled promises with watertight research and fascinating studies.” Kate Christensen, author of Blue Plate Special and Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award

“Mann - who has been on a diet only once, for just two weeks, and who loves ice cream, especially rocky road - does not suggest that we give up altogether. She offers some research-based ways to change unhealthful eating habits and get to that leanest livable weight.” Los Angeles Times

“While it’s scientifically undeniable that diets don’t work, there is also good news...In Secrets From the Eating Lab, Traci Mann offers a realistic alternative, providing a scientifically-supported path to achieving health and fitness goals while debunking the many myths surrounding this complex and emotionally charged topic.” Paul Campos, Professor, University of Colorado, and author of The Obesity Myth