There's been a lot in the UK press recently, about British actress Pauline Quirke. Quirke has lost about 47kg (105 pounds) in just eight months. This extreme very low calorie diet seems really popular in the UK, but thankfully it doesn't appear to have taken off in Australia and New Zealand.
She has done this by following the LighterLife program, which fascinates me. The program is for people with high BMI's – and a lot of weight to lose. It is a very low calorie diet, where about 500 calories is eaten a day. You eat this in the form of shakes, soups or bars which come in “food packs” provided by the company. The idea is that by having under 50g of carbohydrates a day you'll go into Ketosis forcing the body to use bodily fat for fuel. I'm completely on board with ketosis, but the idea of this diet sounds completely miserable to me. You can easily become fat adjusted (and go into ketosis) on more calories than this, whilst eating normal Paleo foods and plenty of fat. It seems dangerous to go from obese to such few calories overnight. I also hate the idea of existing only on processed “nutritionally balanced” foods.
I've found the ingredients for lighter life and am horrified, but not shocked by what they show.
Chicken Flavour Soup: Ingredients: Skimmed milk powder, Maltodextrin, Soya protein isolate, Soya flour, Milk protein, Soya lecithin, Inulin, Flavouring, Hydrolysed wheat and maize protein, Potassium chloride, Calcium phosphate, Stabiliser (Xanthan gum), Magnesium oxide, Onion powder, Calcium carbonate, Parsley, Ascorbic acid, Pepper, Ferrous fumarate, Nicotinamide, Copper gluconate, Zinc oxide, Vitamin E acetate, Manganese sulphate, Calcium d pantothenate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Thiamin hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin A acetate, Sodium molybdate, Chromic chloride, Folic acid, Sodium selenite, Potassium iodate, d-biotin, Vitamin K, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12
Fruit Flavour Meal bars: Ingredients: Maltitol syrup, White coating (sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, skimmed milk powder, whey powder, emulsifier: soya lecithin, stabiliser: E492, flavouring), Milk protein, Soya protein isolate, Whey protein concentrate, Polydextrose, Whey powder, Potassium phosphate, Sunflower oil, Calcium carbonate, Magnesium oxide, Maltodextrin, Ascorbic acid, flavouring, Ferrous fumarate, Nicotinamide, Copper gluconate, Zinc oxide, Vitamin E acetate, Manganese sulphate, Calcium d pantothenate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Thiamin hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin A acetate, Chromic chloride, Sodium molybdate, Folic acid, Sodium selenite, Potassium iodate, d-biotin, Vitamin K, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12
So no meat in the chicken soup (obviously, meat is bad, right?), skimmed milk powder (we don't do fat), lots of soy, sunflower oils, sugars, trans fats and grains-a-plenty. I think the only thing I'd consider eating would be the parsley… For these “foods” to be the only fuel you consume for several months is quite a scary thought. I'd love to find out more what these ingredients do to the body, I'd imagine they are very inflammatory.
Obviously consuming such few calories, weight loss is inevitable. But then what? Once you get to a healthier weight, you still have no knowledge about eating healthy, so presumably you go back to your former eating habits – and back to square one.
I'd love to see some studies about extreme diets like this.
What do you think about diets like these? Do you think the ends justify the means? Would you willingly consume those ingredients?