Other Diets & Books

5’2” and 14st, the woman who’s made millions from an extreme diet blamed this week for the death of a British bride-to-be

This is totally worth going on the Daily Mail web site for – search on the article title and/or date and a double page article should appear. It will be worth it for the picture of Ms Lighter Life, Jackie Cox, herself –  the woman is as wide as she is tall and this is a recent photo – not the ‘before’ picture!

The Daily Mail apparently got her to reveal that she weighs about 14 stone (and then some!) Her BMI is therefore 35.1 – clinically obese. I often get asked by clients and the media to comment on these (liquid) very low calorie diets and whether or not weight re-gain is inevitable. One look at Ms Cox and I think you have the answer!

The Lighter Life company had turnover of c. £10m in 2005 and over £21m in 2007, so there is no shortage of people prepared to literally starve to be slim. The dangers are these however…

1. You’re essentially living on skimmed milk powder and sugar: Government guidelines for ‘meal replacements’ state that the product must be between 25% and 50% protein, have a maximum of 30% fat and so the rest must be carbohydrate. As most slimmers would not want anywhere near 30% fat, even if the maximum protein of 50% is put into a meal replacement, this still leaves up to 50% of the product to be filled up with carbohydrate. Manufactures can hardly put potatoes, rice or pasta in a slimming shake, so the only option left is sugar. As one Slim-Fast advisor said “We have to use sugar to fill up the product and to make it palatable!”

2. You send your body into starvation mode: Your body’s job description is to keep you alive. VLC diets can test your body’s ability to do its job to the absolute extreme. The body will first look for energy from food recently eaten and then from its energy storage room (glycogen). After just a couple of days on a 500-550 calorie diet, the body starts using anything it can get its hands on for life essential energy. You may want it to start using up your love handles, but the body needs to keep you alive, so it will use up lean muscle first as lean muscle requires more energy for its maintenance the body needs to dump the part of you that requires the most energy. The body can literally eat away at core lean tissue and compromise vital organs, leading to heart failure.

3. You sign up for weight regain AND a lifetime of starvation: Whilst the body will eat away at anything in the short term, it will adapt as quickly as possible so that you can survive on fewer calories. You may start the diet with a normal energy requirement of c. 2000 calories a day but, before long, your body will be able to survive on fewer than 1000 calories a day. You will then put on weight if you eat an energy intake that would previously have resulted in weight loss. This is why weight regain is virtually guaranteed with VLC diets and you have slowed your metabolism terribly in the process.

The only way to lose weight is to work WITH your body – never against it in this destructive way. Eat real food, in nourishing quantities and your body will have no need to store love handles.

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