The Cambridge Diet plan claims you can lose up to a stone in weight per month, with many dieters claiming they were losing as much a one pound a day whilst they were following the plan.
This simple sounding diet plan that promises rapid weight loss is almost too good to be true – so does it actually work?
What is the Cambridge Diet?
Founded by biochemist Dr Alan Howard who worked at the Dunn Nutrition Laboratory in Cambridge and his partner Dr Ian McLean-Baird, the Cambridge Diet was created after the pair joined forces to develop the ‘perfect diet’.
After much development, the weight loss plan they launched in the UK in 1984 is a restrictive form of diet designed to yield startling results, fast.
Originally called the Cambridge Diet, the weight loss method was rebranded in 2009 to be called Cambridge Weight Plan, which is how it is now know.
The diet involves eating specially-formulated Cambridge Weight Plan meal replacement products such as bars, drinks, soups and shakes while following a strict very low calorie diet – so low, in fact, that you can only do the diet for a maximum of 12 weeks at a time.
The NHS advises only following a very low calorie diet ‘under medical supervision’ and add that it should not be used as ‘the first option to manage obesity.’
At £50.40 a week, the Cambridge Weight Plan markets itself as cheaper than both LighterLife and Slim-Fast that cost £72.40 and £68.60 per week respectively.
So, how does the Cambridge Diet actually work?
Once signed up to the Cambridge Diet, you are assigned a consultant who stays with you for the duration of the plan, providing advice and support, and ensuring you stay on track.
There are six steps within four stages to each Cambridge Weight Plan weight loss program: preparation, weight loss, stabilisation and long-term weight management.
Although most people start with step one, the assigned consultant will advise which step is the best to start with.
During step one of the plan, known as the ‘Total Diet Replacement Step’ you consume between 450 and 6oo calories a day in the form of three or four Cambridge Weight Plan meal replacement products. Once the first stage is complete, your daily allowance steadily increases as you move up through the steps and begin to reintroduce normal foods back into your diet.
Kerensa Preedy-Houston at the Cambridge Weight Plan explains that one of the reasons the Cambridge Weight Plan yields such visible results so fast is because during stage one, the body goes into ketosis, which is when the body begins burning fat instead of carbohydrates.
During the early stages, exercise is not encouraged, but as the plan progresses, incorporating exercise is encouraged as a way to keep active and stay on track.
Is the Cambridge Diet effective?
The Cambridge Diet is famous for providing visible results, fast – especially after the first few stages of the plan are complete.
Eating around 400 calories on average a day, the founders of the Cambridge diet reckon you can lose up to a stone in weight per month.
Once you have achieved your goal weight, the Cambridge Weight Plan has a step-by-step process for reintroducing a normal, regular diet that involves specific education on eating healthily and portion control.
While there are many testimonies online from people who have successfully tried the Cambridge Diet and achieved incredible weight loss results following the plan, the NHS warns that Very Low Calorie Diets ‘are not a long-term weight management strategy’ and ‘should only be used as part of a wider weight management plan’.
There are a number of celebrities who endorse the Cambridge Diet as an effective way to lose weight, with Loose Women star and actress Martine McCutcheon revealing she lost over a stone on the plan and ‘absolutely loved it’.
TV star Jennifer Ellison also famously lost weight while following the Cambridge Weight Plan, dropping from a size 18 to a size 10.
When it comes to keeping the weight off and staying consistent the Cambridge Weight Plan says, ‘Research suggests that customers who continue to use one meal replacement product each day, such as a Cambridge Weight Plan product, find it easier to maintain their weight.
‘Keep in touch with your Consultant and perhaps go to see them once a month to make sure you stay on the right track.’
Side effects of the Cambridge diet
While positive results of following the Cambridge Weight Plan might include substantial weight loss, some people who have tried the diet have claimed that they suffered a few side effects such as bad breath and constipation.
Kerensa Preedy-Houston at Cambridge Weight Plan (CWP) said, “CWP is generally very well tolerated but some customers do experience side effects. For example we have noted cases of gallstones but we should note that people who are overweight or obese may also experience gallstones.
“Gout is another condition that we have seen. This is because when people lose weight the level of uric acid increases and so does the risk of gout.”
Another side effect noted by some people who followed the diet is less physical, but will still have an impact on your life. Replacing nearly all of your meals with shakes or specific products makes eating out almost impossible – but on the plus side, at least you’ll save money on restaurant bills and takeaway food.
Important rules to remember when following the Cambridge diet…
60% of your daily water consumption comes from food you eat, so when consuming significantly less every day, you need to drink a great deal more to compensate. The Cambridge diet recommends drinking at least 2.25 litres a day, but those who have tried out the plan suggest drinking closer to 3 litres a day worked for them.
Get plenty of sleep as going to bed early will really help, especially in the first few weeks. Also, if you feel fully refreshed and can avoid becoming overtired, you will feel less hungry and are less likely to struggle with cravings.
While focussing on drinking plenty of water in encouraged, drinking herbal and fruit teas is also allowed. Camomile tea will help you drift off at night and peppermint tea could help combat some of the potential side effects of the diet such as constipation.
Stock up on delicious greens such as rocket, spinach, lettuce, watercress, cucumber, radishes or celery for step three onwards in the plan when a leafy salad makes a nutritious low calorie lunch choice.