Our nutritionist and co-founder Ruth shares her thoughts on some of the craziest diets for 2019 and the popular weight loss plans that aren’t going anywhere quickly.
THE SNAKE DIET
What’s the skinny? The Snake Diet founded by Cole Robinson claims that fasting for extremely long periods of time (in this case at least 48 hours and sometimes 72 hours) will ‘clear the liver of toxins’ and even cure type 2 diabetes, herpes and inflammation and make you more productive. During the first phase of the diet, you survive on apple cider vinegar and ‘snake juice’ – a concoction of water, Himalayan rock salt, potassium chloride, baking soda and magnesium sulphate. During your feeding window, you’re then allowed to eat a high fat, high protein meal within 2 hours only, before starting the fasting again.
Definitely a case of snake oil rather than snake juice, and actually dangerous snake oil for that matter. Not only will you risk nutrient deficiencies, but you’ll also likely experience constipation, poor sleep, lack of focus and low mood, and when you start eating normally again will no doubt put on more weight than you’ve lost.
DETOX TEA AND SKINNY COFFEE
The Skinny Coffee Club, Bootea and other subscription weight loss drinks have shot to the top of the New Year Diet lists thanks to endorsement from instagram celebrities and influencers. The drinks claim to contain ‘fat-busting ingredients’ such as green tea extract, green coffee extract and garcinia cambogia which allegedly works as an appetite suppressant. Yet despite the claims and dramatic ‘before and after shots’ you’ll see online, there is little scientific evidence to back up the claims. Unless you’re also making changes to the food you’re eating, it’s unlikely that one cup of the drink each day will have any greater effect than a placebo.
In addition to this, it may also come with unpleasant side effects – diarrhoea, anxiety, irritability, poor sleep, and potential liver damage are all things that you could be risking with this £25 per month habit. In fact, just a couple of months ago, it was reported in the news that a 50 year old man who had been taking green tea tablets was left requiring an urgent liver transplant due to the effect of the concentrated green tea.
Don’t be fooled by any supplements or drinks claiming miracle weight loss results and absolutely do not supplement without seeking advice from a dietitian, GP or registered nutritionist. Even supplements that can be bought over the counter at health food shops can have extremely harmful long term effects.
And back by popular demand…
INTERMITTENT FASTING OR THE 5:2 DIET
Made popular by that Michael Mosley documentary back in 2013, the 5:2 diet involves eating just 500 calories (600 for men) on two days a week and then eating normally the rest of the time. This type of intermittent fasting proposes that by cutting calories, you reduce levels of the hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) in the blood. Previous research has found that a drop in the blood level of IGF-1 can trigger the body to turn on cellular repair mechanisms, protecting itself against cancer, heart disease, and other fatal illnesses. Weight loss is a beneficial side effect. Yet despite the hype, research has shown that this type of fasting doesn’t see any greater results than with a conventional calorie controlled diet. In fact, studies have found that although people see results quickly with the 5:2 diet, it’s harder to stick to in the long term than other calorie controlled diets.
If you’re an all or nothing person, this one’s for you and can be a good way to lose weight, while potentially improving overall future health. Just watch out if you’re looking to conceive, or if you have any underlying health issues such as diabetes as fasting isn’t recommended in these cases.
PLANT BASED EATING
Plant based, vegan, flexitarian.. the trend for less animal produce is proving more than a trend. In fact, an Economist article recently declared 2019 the ‘Year of the Vegan’ and McDonalds has even introduced the McVegan in selected countries. With more and more people recognising the health and environmental benefits of eating less animal products, it’s no surprise that record numbers have signed up to Veganuary this year in the UK and one in eight people in the UK now say they are vegan or vegetarian.
We know that processed meats have the biggest dietary link to cancer of all of the food groups and that plant based foods tend to be high in beneficial fibre and antioxidants while at the same time typically being lower in calories and saturated fats. That said, there are benefits to be had from nutrients typically found in animal products such as iron in red meat, calcium and vitamin D in dairy and B12 found in most animal products. So if you’re choosing to eat less animal products this year, it’s important to keep up plenty of variety in your diet and make sure you’re not missing out on these essential nutrients.