The big crash diet experiment

(Ellen) #1

Anyone watching this? I’m appalled after only a few mins.

(CJ Young) #2

Ooof, I just watched the promo. Yikes, that is…unfortunate. Really just continuing to spread the wrong message about weight loss.

(Ellen) #3

Yeah I was raging after 5 mins, couldn’t watch it all, apparently very low calorie meal replacements are nutrionally balanced and sustainable for several weeks; and that’s a good thing???


Started to watch it, thankfully the phone rang so wasn’t subjected to more than the first 2 minutes!


It didn’t turn out to be as terrible as I thought it would be after the first 15 mins, but it still completely missed the mark in a number of areas. No one seems capable of understanding the carb/insulin theory of obesity/metabolic syndrome, even their prof that ran the study said he ‘discovered’ the cause of type 2 diabetes and that it is too much fat around the pancreas that stops the cells producing enough insulin, and that people need to lose weight so that these cells can get more insulin out…that sounds totally wrong from what I know about insulin resistance - diabetes is due to far too much of the stuff in the first place, the last thing you want to do is make your body produce more right?!

Also it had the same old focus on calories as the only lever to influence anything. Why cant the BBC just hook up with Jason Fung/Eric Westman/Gary Taubes/Nina Teischolz or any number of the people who actually know about this stuff (I’m sure we must have some in the UK too?) and give us a real programme on the causes of obesity and disease and how to fix it?

Most gratifying for me was that these people had to crash diet starve themselves for 9 weeks, eating god only knows what in those shakes, in order to achieve 2 stone weight loss; I’ve done the same thing, in the same time period, never going hungry, eating 2000+ ketogenic calories a day!

(A fool and his bacon are soon parted) #6

You’d think the Beeb could have hooked up with Zoë Harcombe, at least, since she’s easily accessible. Also, the BMJ published an article by Nina Teicholz, which they refused to retract after many protests and a prolonged investigation, so you’d think someone there might also have an inkling!

(Alec) #7

This program has only just been shown in Australia. There were quite a few issues and misinformation in here, but fundamentally I think it is likely the people put on this very low cal diet were ketogenic. Obviously never tested, but they were clearly losing bodyfat, hence burning fat, hence they would have been creating ketones.

Admittedly doing it the hard way… processed shakes and soups, so it must have been pretty miserable, but if we define a keto diet by one that creates ketones, then this was a ketone diet.

Per the criticism above, I think the whole explanation and dealing with T2D was appalling. They simply said that his diabetes was in remission after 9 weeks: we got a brief glimpse of a chart, but there were no proper explanations. The data on the chart didn’t make sense to me. And the T2D explanation made me cringe: that reducing the fat in his pancreas would now allow increased insulin production and hence remove his diabetes. It’s amazing that an educated dr would say such things. And they WERE talking about type 2, not type 1. So he thinks increasing insulin production is a good thing. CW at work: we manage T2D by giving insulin, hence getting the body to make more of its own must be good. Oh boy, how about that for missing the point!

But overall, I think this was a nice challenge to the CW that crash diets don’t work. I know low cal is not fasting, but at least we are challenging the dreadful status quo.

So I don’t think the program was as bad as the folks said above. I quite enjoyed it.


Oh my! I cringe every time I see one of those drug commercials we get here in the US for medications that “help your body produce its own insulin”. Yay, the fast track to pancreatic beta cell burnout! Thanks, but no thanks. Now if you’re on the far end of decades of T2 diabetes then yes you’re more like T1 at that point.

How hypocaloric were they and how insulinogenic was the diet?

It is possible to burn fat via beta oxidation in the TCA cycle and not produce ketones if you are not in a liver glycogen depleted state. It’s the GNG kicking in when available glucose gets low that starts ketosis. Then ketones can be generated by burning fat.

Or, if it was basically zero-fat, like the potato diet…? Then it’s possible (?) but don’t ask me the mechanisms right now. [OK go ahead and ask if you want, I think I got it]


I just googled what they were eating and it turns out they’re getting the product here. I’m seeing VLCD meal replacement packets, so yeah, likely ketogenic at hypocaloric levels.

(Alec) #10

The food I saw them eating on the program was shakes and soups: it all seemed liquid. I am assuming it would have been low to zero fat, but highish protein and balance in carbs. They did not explain what they were really eating apart from “very low calorie shakes and soups”.

There is no doubt that they were all totally fed up (pun intended!) with the diet by the end. They really could not sustain it for long periods of time. The thinking was definitely CICO, which we know works in the short term. It will be interesting to see if there were any follow up studies on the participants. Anyone know whether this was a one off program, or is there further analysis of these folks?


When I first looked at the food, I thought VLCD meant Very Low CARB. But that would be too easy.

So, today I learned that a diet devoid of fat and super hypocaloric (like the Pritikin potato diet) can indeed produce ketones if insulin is low enough and bile is not released. Why bile? Because when it is reabsorbed in the intestines it stimulates hepatic glycogen storage. No bile, less glycogen. Combine that with inadequate calories and the glucose will go preferentailly to muscle. No liver glycogen, ketone production switched to “on” position.

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