The Cambridge Diet is somewhat old school. Created in a hospital weight loss program back in the sixties. This diet went public in 1984, and after that, millions have drunk its meal replacement products in the hope of losing weight.
Now called the 1:1 Diet, the Cambridge Diet starts with a 500 calorie initial phase of shakes, bars and soups that are (supposedly) created to get your daily requirements. For people who can stomach the extreme deficit in calories, fat loss comes fast. Whether it keeps going is another question.
Can a diet invented over half a century ago still hold weight? With dieticians and nutritionists, we reviewed the Cambridge Diet and if it’s a safe way to drop pounds.
The Cambridge Diet was created for those with severe obesity, which involves a body mass index of 40 or more. It was created by nutritionist Dr Alan Howard from the University of Cambridge, and who is the founder of the International Journal of Obesity, a journal that is a pioneer within obesity research.
His diet comes in six ‘steps’, starting with Step 1 where you only eat pre-packaged products – to Step 6 that involves a healthy diet with routine meal replacements. What you eat depends on which ‘step’ you are in. The first five have at least one meal replacement product – soups, bars and shakes – that have 200 calories or less.
Does It Work?
While there is science behind the diet, the trial – which was published in The BMJ – was undertaken on people with a BMI of 30 and higher. Oxford University scientists put 138 people on the Cambridge Diet for eight weeks – taking in 810 calories per day – followed by four-weeks food re-introduction and a 24-week maintenance time. After a year, they had lost 10.7kg on average.
So it works, right? Not quite. If you follow it you will lose weight. You might lose your paunch, but it will come at a cost. Along with the study’s reported side effects such as constipation, dizziness and headache, you will likely have very large energy dips from the low calories. You will also likely have very large hunger spikes. Extreme calorie deficits like this usually have increased loss of lean muscle, which will lower your resting metabolic rate.
Author: Scott Dowdy