CAUTION! The following blog post is long! Probably too long as I have a habit of rambling and waffling when I feel particularly passionate about something. If you don’t want to read it (although I advise you do take the time to at some point) and you are just on this page to grab the Little Black Dresses PDF you can download it here: CLICK!
If you just want a copy of the meals as a single page, they can be found here: CLICK!
Hope you enjoy it! For those with some time on their hands, please carry on reading.
Last Friday I saw an article in a Sunday supplement titled ‘Lose half a stone in 14 days’. It was a 7 day meal plan designed by weight loss ‘guru’ Rosemary Conley. The sub heading questions if the reader wants to fit into their LBD (little black dress) in time for Christmas. Clearly this article is aimed at slightly overweight women hoping to look slimmer and sexier in time for their Christmas party. Essentially, this audience will be a little bit desperate, and as a result, highly vulnerable. I scanned it and have uploaded it HERE.
The article angered me. I posted the following to my Facebook:
Just read a Rosemary Conley ‘Little Black Dress Diet’ in a Sunday supplement that has made me physically sick with anger. So angry in fact, I’m going to attack someone. In the face.
Seriously though, using a really poorly constructed ‘diet’ to sell some shitty plastic portion scoops is (in my opinion) disgusting. At this time of year, people (women especially) are desperate for some weight loss solutions to feel sexy for parties etc. To prey on that fact, and to sell some tat to the vulnerable is reprehensible. I wouldn’t mind if the diet had any semblance of logic behind it…but one of the breakfasts is a bowl of Shreddies with sugar! Haha. The diet may as well just advise you to lock yourself in the shed for two weeks.
So, women, (and men who need to squeeze into their little black dresses), if you are anxious this party season about your weight please feel free to ask me anything you need to. I’m not trying to sell anything. I’ll just give you straight up advice that works. I’ll repost this status on Monday when people may actually care!
I received some positive feedback from my Facebook community and my clients in the gym who had read the outburst. But had I really done anything positive to balance out what I see as a huge sleight on the health/fitness/fat-loss industry? The answer is no. I can rant all I want, but if I don’t offer up proper reasons why, and a sensible alternative I am just another internet know-it-all filling everyone’s cyberspace with high and mighty declarations of my intellect. I reflected on this over the weekend and decided that if I really want to make any kind of difference I need to step up to the plate and do what Rosemary Conley failed so spectacularly to do. So, here I am writing this post. I’ll start with what it was exactly about the article that pushed my rage buttons.
Firstly, I used MyFitnessPal and analysed the daily nutritional breakdown for the 7 day plan. I won’t bore you with the individual figure for each day, but I will give you an average for the week. It should be noted that these numbers are based on MyFitnessPal and the ‘best-fit’ option for each given food choice. On the whole I reckon they are pretty accurate, but there may be some small discrepancies somewhere. A breakdown of each day can be found here (if you care that much!): CLICK!
The average amount of calories per day was 1062, so slightly lower than the 1200 that the write up suggests. The proposed 1200 kcals per day is madness, so shaving 250kcals off that is total lunacy. These calories broke down into a daily intake of 156g carbohydrate (74g of which were sugar), 16g of fat and 65g of protein. Just in case you missed it, I’ll repeat; 74g of sugar! Across the 3 meals and 2 snacks that works out as 15g per feed. Lovely stuff. Over the two weeks of ‘dieting’ you will have eaten over a kg of sugar (hidden in the foods she recommends like low-fat rice pudding). 1 kilogram!! Next time you’re at the supermarket grab a 1kg bag of sugar. This plan suggests that eating this amount of sugar (hidden in your meals) is healthy, nutritious, satisfying and conducive to long term health. The only thing eating a kg of sugar in 2 weeks is conducive to is type 2 diabetes at some point in your future. And rotten teeth. And a lifelong fight with weight gain. And energy crashes. You get my point. My first recommendation for anyone looking to lose weight is to lose the all sugar from the diet by avoiding sweets and by becoming aware of how much sugar is put into processed food to make it addictive. If someone showed me their food diary for 14 days and it had 1kg total of sugar in it I would have to learn how to do a roundhouse kick, just so I could then roundhouse kick their food diary into a bin.
When I design a diet for someone I generally start with a baseline figure of x amount of calories split into 40% protein, 40% fat and 20% carbohydrate. From here energy levels, weight loss, cravings, etc can all be monitored and the ratio can be manipulated based on how the client’s body is responding. These figures are not the holy grail of figures by any stretch of the imagination, but they provide me with a good, balanced start point to work from. The diet I am analysing here works out as approx 60% carbohydrate (30% sugar), 15% fat and 25% protein. So, slightly askew from what I have experienced to be a good starting point. This is subjective though – just my opinion, based on my own and my clients’ experiences. Whatever reason RC has for suggesting her diet and its macronutrient balance as a ‘healthy/hearty/indulgent/comforting/nutritious’ starting point I’m sure she believes.
Anyway, I have a number of other issues with her plan. So, here we go…..
1. Eating such a low amount of kcals (1200) every day will leave you hungry and in need of energy. Losing weight is NOT about starving the body. How can someone possibly be happy if they are hungry and energy depleted all of the time. The common advice of eating less and exercising more simply doesn’t work. 95% of all diets set up with this calories in V calories out construct fail when the dieter gets sick and tired of being sick and tired. And 66% of people who do fail end up heavier than they were pre-diet. These stats are found in this study: MEDICARE’S SEARCH FOR EFFECTIVE TREATMENTS: DIETS ARE NOT THE ANSWER.
I am not disputing that eating 1200 kcals for 14 days straight will leave you weighing less. It will (if you can manage to sustain such a horribly low daily intake). Your body will undoubtedly burn some of its own tissue to claw back the huge energy crisis it is facing. Some of this tissue may be fat, Only some though, and not much. The rest of the weight lost will be from glycogen, water and lean tissue. Glycogen is the body’s storage of carbohydrate energy. For every gram of glycogen stored, 3-4g of water is stored with it (clue is in the name carboHYDRATE). So, by ‘burning’ our glycogen reserves we lose the glycogen weight as well as a load of water weight. The next moment the body has a chance to refuel these stores it will. So, the moment you have a good meal (which will come sooner rather than later if trying to survive on 1200 kcals a day) all the glycogen and water weight will be back.
In an energy crisis, the body will also metabolise some of its lean tissue (muscle tissue) for fuel. A very low kcal diet will undoubtedly lead to lean tissue being broken down. This is bad. Lean tissue is critical for long term and sustainable fat loss. By catabolising (burning off) your lean tissue your are damaging your body’s future prospects to lose fat.
All this means that after two weeks of feeling crappy and being hungry you will have lost weight but not necessarily fat. It is fat that we want to lose if we’re trying to get into a figure hugging dress right?! The weight you have lost will show on the scales, but not in the dress. To add insult to injury, the second you eat ‘normally’ again, that weight will reappear, pretty much overnight. Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, the damage done to your lean tissue will jeopardise your future chances of re-losing that weight. In my Facebook post I state that the diet might as well advise you to lock yourself in a shed for 2 weeks. Being trapped in a shed is just a more extreme example of this diet. You’d lose a ton of weight, feel like crap and look ill come party time. But the scales would show ‘results’. It’d take you a while to recover, and when you do you’d weigh just as much as when you started, if not more. Basically it is not good for you and gives no consideration to your long term health or fat loss aspirations.
2. The food quality in the diet is ridiculous. I’m sure that someone, somewhere could argue that going very low calorie for a short period of time (maybe a day or two – certainly not two weeks!) could be beneficial for someone looking to kick start a fat loss programme. Presented with a reasoned argument and some research I would possibly agree. But the low calorie food plan would have to be full of the most nutritious foods possible, to give the body as much nutrition as possible from the smaller portions. Shreddies (Day 5 breakfast) are not one of the most nutritious foods out there. Bread (which features in 5 of the 7 days) is not one of the most nutritious foods out there. In fact, both of these examples could qualify as being labelled ANTI-NUTRITION. Other junk items that are advocated are: diet drinks, weetabix, pasta, Frylight, fruit tubes and table sugar. An absolute joke.
3. The nutrient balance of the diet is illogical (I wanted to say stupid but held back). There are 3 main components of all foods known as the macro-nutrients. The macro-nutrients are fat, protein and carbohydrate. Your body needs all three to function properly. How much of all three depends on a myriad of factors such as age, gender, genetic profile, daily activity levels, insulin sensitivity and goals. Logically, a very low calorie diet would need to have decent levels of protein and fat as both help stabilise blood sugar, reduce lean tissue breakdown, increase satiation and ward off hunger. This diet has appallingly low levels of both, especially fat. Rosemary Conley’s whole philosophy is built around ‘low-fat’ meals. This attitude is archaic. Your body needs fat. Fat is good for you. ‘Low-fat’ is a concept from the 80s and has no place in the scientific research driven industry I work in today.
4. The whole diet is a vehicle to sell her products. Portion scoops, ‘solo-slim’ nutrition bars and ‘solo-slim’ ready meals all feature in the article. I don’t know why this really annoys me, but it does. It’s as if it doesn’t matter if the diet plan makes people feel like crap or not – as long as her products sell, she can sleep soundly. I’m making a huge assumption there admittedly – but oh well!
I hope that sums up a few of the reasons why the article rankled me so much. So, you know why I turned into the e-hulk, but what do I suggest you do instead? I have created my own plan, which I’ve called ‘For All The The Little Black Dresses. I use the plural as I hope to give you a plan that leads to more than one dress being worn with pride. My plan will set your body up at a hormonal level to start burning fat, and continue burning fat until you are a normal, healthy weight. What’s more, your body should start to self regulate and unless you radically change your habits you will stay at your healthy weight with ease. There should be no reason to radically change your habits however as you’ll experience fantastic energy levels, improved hair and skin, better moods, clearer thinking and generally a greater zest for life! The hardest part of all will be accepting change. You will need to ditch some of your old habits and replace them with new. This transition will take effort and a certain amount of willpower on your part. People have a certain level of emotional and psychological attachment to their routine behaviours. Breaking free from these ties is the hardest part. I promise it’ll be worth it though.
If you want the plan, just CLICK HERE to download it in PDF form. It only costs £19.99 (kidding). I should add that it is a general plan. If you have individual requirements or concerns please just ask me how to tailor it to suit you specifically. I do not want anything in return for this plan. If you want to contact me and ask questions then that is cool and I won’t save your email address for future marketing or spamming. I want to give people a helping hand – I mean this sincerely. If you do want to comment or give me feedback then please do so on the comments section, or on my Facebook page (FranSilverPT). Share the plan as much as you want and let people know to connect with me if they have found it has helped them out. I will learn as much from your feedback as you hopefully will from my writing.
My plan acts like an elimination diet. I have removed anything that could be causing your metabolism to stop burning fat, as well as the things that definitely blunt fat burning, like sugar. The initial 2-3 days may be tough as your body comes to terms with not having gluten/lactose/casein/sugar in the system, but I promise you that by day 14 you will have lost a load of weight (as body fat) and you will feel fantastic. So fantastic that you will want to carry on eating as I suggest indefinitely (with the old treat or cheat day of course) until you are whatever weight/shape/size that you want to be. It really is a ‘diet’ designed for all the dresses your future holds.
If certain foods like bread and dairy have a hold over you then you may want to talk to me personally to come up with an action plan to help you past the withdrawal stage. Yes, these foods are that disruptive to your hormonal balance that you may experience withdrawal symptoms. This is a surefire indicator that you need them out of your life temporarily, to be reintroduced one at a time at a later date.
I need to add this last little insight to my philosophy. I hate the term ‘diet’. I didn’t want to publish this as the LBD diet or anything like that as the word diet gives the impression of it it being a temporary measure. Most diets published in the glossies and Sunday Supps are exactly this. Temporary measures that provide a short term pause in your fat gain, but no long term remedy. Your diet (as in, everything you do nutritionally) is controlling the way your body metabolises energy – whether it stores it, or burns it. If you don’t look to change it holistically and permanently you will always suffer from metabolic disruption (fat gain and obesity being the most common symptoms of this). I am saying this as I implore you to view this as the start of what could be a significant change in your life. This is not a stopgap that you can employ every time you gain a few pounds. You may be worried that you will feel hungry, or feel that to remove something like bread from your daily habits is boring, or untenable. To assuage any fears you may have I will promise this: If you follow my advice, and connect with me any time you need something clarified or individualised for you I will help you, and as a result you will feel utterly fantastic. If after the 14 days you think that this isn’t the case then I am more than happy to discuss what can be done. Of course, if you just want to eat as you used to, then that is your prerogative. This plan is not a marketing ploy on my part. I am selling nothing; not plastic portion scoops, nor low calorie ready meals. I have no hidden agenda behind suggesting this way of eating to you. My motive is simple – to offer some decent advice to those who may want it.