Tony Ferguson v paleo weight loss diet-min

Tony Ferguson Weight Loss Diet v Paleo

I was really surprised to see this poster advertising the popular Tony Ferguson weight loss diet. It advertises that with the joining fee you get a free lifetime membership.


Surely a weight loss program should “work” within a finite period? For a program to be working, I'd expect a successful dieter to lose at least 0.1 kg a week (the smallest interval most scales will measure). If a dieter is doing such a weight loss program for 50 years of their life, losing 0.1 kg a week – they'll have lost 260kg. Given that this seems rather ridiculous, I can only conclude that the lifetime membership is offered because dieters on this plan fail to achieve their weight loss goals – or put it all back on?

What is the Tony Ferguson Diet?

The diet appears to be a very low calorie diet, where dieters select from a range of heavily processed “meal replacement” products, such as shakes, soups and bars. These seem to replace one to two meals a day, with the remaining meal being a “proper” meal from a restricted list of allowable foods. The plan also recommends a lot of supplements of vitamins and minerals. These are vitamins and minerals that appear to be difficult to obtain when cutting out the natural food sources.

Good Ingredients?

These are the ingredients for one of the products, the Mixed Vegetable Soup. I'm not sure how something with 3% vegetables (which is mainly legumes anyway) is called “vegetable” soup, but still…

Milk solids, soy protein, thickeners (1442, 412), flavours, inslin, dried vegetables (3%) (corn, pea, red capsicum, tomato), yeast extract, salt, sunflower oil, onion powder, minerals (sodium phosphate, magnesium oxide, ferric pyrophosphate, zinc oxide, manganese sulphate, copper sulphate, chronium chloride, sodium molybate, potassium iodine, sodium selenite), anti-caking agent (551), colours (160a, 141, 100), garlic powder, vitamins (C, E, B3, B5, B2, B6, B1, A, folate, K, biotin, D, B12), parsley, flavour enhancer (635), spice & herb.

A Better Way?

Surely instead of being on a lifelong diet and not being able to eat real food, Paleo is a far better way to lose weight? Learning to eat properly – then eating that way for the rest of your life is a far more sustainable – and healthy approach.

Have you ever tried a weight loss plan like this? I'd love to hear your experiences and thoughts on these types of weight loss plans.

It's Dangerous to Quit Grains sponsored by Kelloggs paleo diet-min

It’s Dangerous to Quit Grains (Sponsored by Kelloggs)

I received an interesting comment pointing me to an article on the website of the Dietitians Association of Australia (update: this has since been removed), all about the Paleo Diet.  The four paragraph critique questions whether there is any merit to this way of eating.  It concludes that they do not support the diet, as

It excludes nutritious core foods such as breads and cereals, and dairy foods

They are also concerned that

The Paleo Diet encourages restrictive eating – an approach that is not sustainable in the long-term. And by banning certain nutritious foods, followers of the diet will be at a greater risk of falling short on important nutrients, such as calcium. Like many fad diets, the Paleo Diet, is no substitute for expert, individual dietary advice from an Accredited (SIC) Practising Dietitian.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest calcium balance, rather than calcium intake is of crucial importance – something that a paleo diet promotes.  Sadly they don’t mention the other nutrients they are concerned about.  This would interest me greatly, as when I have tracked my daily diet I have greatly exceeded all of the micro-nutrient RDA’s (except calcium) by eating in this way.

They say Australians should eat a diet with a wide variety of food from all food groups; that meets their health needs; that is sustainable in the long term and that fits in with their lifestyle.  This implies that they don’t consider a Paleo diet meets these criteria.  I know I'm not alone in finding Paleo is the best diet for my health; very sustainable and fits in easily into my lifestyle.  The fact that it is restrictive in not including processed foods and grains, certainly isn't what I’d call restrictive.  I don’t consider grains a proper “food group” and I think my diet is far more varied than those who eat from the food pyramid.

It's Dangerous to Quit Grains sponsored by Kelloggs paleo diet-min

Before I let the inaccuracies and complete lack of research and studies bother me further, I had a look at the partners of the Dietitians Association of Australia.  It might surprise you to see that their partners include Kelloggs, Nestle, Unilever, Dairy Australia and the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council!

Just to be completely clear, that’s Kelloggs, who make “healthy” high-carb breakfast cereals.  Nestle who make drinks, snacks, breakfast foods and confectionery – which for the most part all share grains, sugars and other un-Paleo “foods” in their ingredients lists.  Unilever – whose products include margarine and diet meal replacement shakes.  I think we can guess which foods Dairy Australia and the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council endorse.

Sadly I think the more popular Paleo becomes, the more we will read stories like this warning about the dangers of a Paleo diet.  There just isn't the same degree of money for the food industry in real, unprocessed foods like meat and vegetables.

How can we trust an organisation that has a financial relationship with these partners, to give us true, researched dietary advice?  I wonder what would happen to their partnerships if they were to take a different stance on grains?

LighterLife anti paleo diet

Lighter Life, The Anti Paleo Diet?

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?