Diets Don’t Work!

Just as I started writing this blog my wife pinged me over an email titled – ‘I don’t know how I feel about this’. The email contained a link to a yahoo blog titled ‘Dr Michael Mosley reveals all about the 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet’

All links and articles associated with this blog can be found at the bottom of the page.

I was going to talk about my feelings on diets in  general, and how they how for the most part they fail to help people reduce weight for the long term and how they can be detrimental to our health. Instead, I would like to talk about my feelings on this diet plan from Dr Mosley as it is very fresh in my mind.

Who is Dr Michael Mosley?

Well if you are from the UK you would have seen him on plenty of BBC Documentaries and shows about health, he is often the resident specialist in all matters of health on the early evening programme ‘The One Show’ so he is seen as highly respected and knowledgeable and any information that he offers comes with a high degree of authority and is seen as very credible.   

What is the Diet?

The basic diet that the good Doctor is trying to sell to us, consists of 8 weeks of serious calorie restrictions, he states 800 calories per day, followed by a further maintenance 5:2 diet which is basically eat normally for 5 days and then fast for 2 days (or as I like to put it ‘starve yourself for 2 days’)

Who is this Diet for?

The diet is aimed at anybody who is overweight or ‘Prediabetic’ as the Doctor refers to people on the verge of being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Also anybody who maybe “fat on the inside”?  

My Thoughts

My first and initial problem with this diet is that it is being presented as very doable and seems to be falling into the same old trap of easy fix. This diet is definitely not easy, in fact I would suggest this diet is extremely hard, but it is sold as easy. I’ll state from the outset that I don’t believe I could sustain this diet, yes it is not aimed at somebody like me. The impression the marketing gives is… All you just do….. and 1,2,3 you will be slim fit and healthy in a relatively small amount of time and effort. Barely any exercise required just your 2 minutes intense 3 times a week and we will give you a load of lovely tasty recipes that will allow you to stop craving those chocolate bars…. Easy peasy!

Now I believe this diet, if able to stick it out, will definitely fulfil the claims and maybe short term health benefits that are being advertised, but, the commitment and motivation needed to sustain such an intense plan is unfortunately beyond most people. Certain personality types are able to sustain such an intense regimen and even for the less motivated individual maybe able to sustain such a regime for 2 or even 3 months. The problem with this diet is it is so extreme, painful and unpleasant sending a shock physically and psychologically through the body that when you fall off the wagon (this will happen) you may find that your body is in starvation mode and before you know it you will be in a worse physical and mental state than you were when you started. The literature available on the ‘8-Week Blood Sugar Diet’ website does talk about the body going into starvation mode but dismisses this possibility as it references old, out of date and badly carried out research. I would maybe like to point the doctor in the direction of contestants from the famous hit dieting show ‘The Biggest Loser’ and see how the extreme diet and exercise regimes have now left the contestants often fatter and in a worse state than before they stated.  

There are some success stories to this diet and the doctor uses himself as an example (let’s remember the doctor has always appeared fit and slim!). Well I feel (and this is highly speculative), that the good Doctor is a very high achiever. Firstly he is a doctor so managed to get himself through medical school, possibly one of the most highly competitive career choices possible. Then not only that, he has managed to become a regular feature on British television, people don’t get onto tv by accident, they are usually highly intelligent, motivated, driven and competitive. Often, I would argue, the same traits found in a professional athletes who have the mindset and drive to put themselves through extreme exercise and diet regimes that most of us normal people would give up on pretty quickly. Add to the mix a person who is very concerned about his own health and a good opportunity to make some money, you end with have a perfect scenario for somebody motivated and driven enough to sustain an 800 calorie a day diet.

Let’s talk about the 3 aspects of the diet.

  1. You have the 8 weeks at 800 calories.
  2. You have the the 5/2 starvation mode/ maintenance stage good doctor advocates a mediterranean style diet.
  3. Finally once you have your health in check you enter the longer term maintenance stage where the good Doctor continues to advocate a Mediterranean style diet with some random starvation days added in for good measure.

Part 1. Now I have tried to express how hard it would be to live on only 800 calories a day, lets not forget 800 calories as number is rediculous for other reasons, a 300 lb person having only 800 calories a day would find it much harder than a 150 lb person and it is possible that both people could have similar body fat yet are expected to consume the same amount of calories to survive?? This is crazy. Second, there are so many reasons why counting calories is a ridiculous and often pointless exercise and I was talking about this with people for a while before I came across ‘Jonathan Bailor’ who is one of the strongest advocates of not counting calories… check out this interview I found with him..

The thing is not all calories are equal, but I won’t go into this now as that is another long blog post..

Part 2. There are theories for this type of diet which suggest that our ancient ancestors evolved with these extremes of starvation and then glutenny and by replicating this approach our bodies will adapt to a more healthy weight. One problem, back in the olden days…. The really long time ago olden days, is if you were to stick us in a cave and let us scrub around for food all day for a number of reasons we’d be lucky to live past 40 years, let alone 70/80/90+. Yes we would have been lean and thin and don’t get me wrong there are ‘some’ principles of the Paleo diet that I believe in, but starvation in our society is craziness, let alone impossible with the easy availability of refined carb/high fat temptations which when starving will break us.

This type of diet ‘shocks’ our bodies into losing weight causing increases in cortisone and adrenaline which could have longer term stress implications. There is a great book by David B. Angus ‘A Short Guide to a Long Life’ And he talks about routine and consistency and giving the body a rest. This diet is a long way from routine and consistency and will keep shocking and pushing our bodies I really don’t believe this approach is healthy long term, and because I believe people will mostly fail on this diet they will want to believe in the diet, blaming themselves for the failure and continually returning and trying again. Adding to more inconsistency and lack of routine and the damaging physical and psychological effects that this could have.

Part 3. This bit sounds good apart from the random starvation days!

Anyway I think I have made my views quite clear, Yes this diet would be better than taking drugs but it is definitely not the only answer to people who are overweight Prediabetic or type 2 Diabetic. I have a fantastic story to tell of how my wife cured herself of gestational diabetes (which is basically the same as type 2 diabetes but in pregnant women) But I will be leaving that for another day.

My final point on the matter is this.….Personally I would not want to live with somebody who was only consuming 800 calories a day, the mood swings, the grumpiness and who knows what this would do to hormonal in-balances. This diet would test the resolve of the best and most secure relationships!  

Please read all about the diet on the websites, I have provided the links, I would love to hear from anybody who has attempted or is on the diet. And please feel free to comment if you believe I am completely wrong or right! As I would always like to emphasise we are all completely different there is no such thing as one size fits all and for some people this will be the perfect solution. I just don’t believe this style of dieting is for the long term or healthy!

Please see links to the Yahoo Blog by NetDoctor

Also please check out.

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