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The Lose a Pound a Day diet might sound too good to be true. But here's the science and steps behind the eating plan.
It's another one of those diets that works fast (opens in new tab) to achieve weight loss, with many viewing the Lose a Pound a Day diet as a quick-fix method to shed a few pounds for a certain occasion. And whilst it doesn't necessarily involve starving yourself (three meals and two snacks a day) it is still considered an extreme diet (opens in new tab) that should not be entered into lightly.
"The 'Lose a Pound a Day' diet focuses on healthy eating over fasting, and encourages high fibre, low calorie, and portion-controlled meal plans," explains Daniel Harris, a BSc (Hons) Nutritional Practitioner. "While this diet promotes healthy eating, it is not recommended as a long term health plan, as this is an unsustainable way to lose weight."
What is the Lose a Pound a Day diet?
The Lose a Pound a Day diet is a two-part eating plan designed by nutritionist Monica Grenfell. It adopts Swiss eating patterns and methods to help aid weight loss. With dieters detoxing for a week before re-introducing foods back into their meals.
Monica was inspired by the Swiss and their healthy food habits which includes the mantra: 'Build a better body, cell by cell'. This includes feeding their bodies with anti-ageing foods such as good for you greek yogurt (opens in new tab) and grape juice.
"To the Swiss, everything is achievable through good diet," she tells us. "And they are right – most weight gain (opens in new tab) is caused by comfort – or binge-eating, which leads to physical and mental health problems and then back to more comfort-eating. Soon problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (opens in new tab) (IBS) set in – and the cycle continues."
Unlike extreme diets, the lose a pound a day plan allows dieters three meals and two snacks a day. It instead focuses on portion control to help reduce calories and in turn achieve weight loss.
How does the Lose a Pound a Day diet work?
The Lose a Pound a Day diet works by encouraging portion controlled, low-calorie meals to help the body burn fat stores and drop the weight. It's made up of two phases: detoxing in the first week and then a maintenance diet in the second week.
"Too much protein makes the body acidic, resulting in energy crashes and overeating," says Monica Grenfell. "Although we all need 45g protein a day for cell growth, maintenance and repair, most of us get too much. Portion size is the answer, and the Lose a Pound a Day Diet controls protein portions."
Protein sources like chicken, turkey and lean red meat should be eaten just twice a week on the plan. And each of these portions mustn't exceed 100g. Refined carbohydrates (opens in new tab) are also limited on the diet - but some pasta is allowed. Like protein, it is restricted to 100g portions, twice a week. Whole-grains are instead preferred, but again make sure not to overdo it on portion size.
And of course, being Swiss influenced, organic fruit juices are encouraged on the Lose a Pound a Day plan:
"The Swiss are keen to get their 'shots' of pure fruit juice, and many restaurants have different shots lined up for customers to choose from," says Monica Grenfell. "Seen as a pre-meal cleanse for the system, they also take the edge off your appetite. I recommend red grape juice for its high vitamin content."
Science certainly supports upping your intake of red grape juice too. With one Oregon State University study (opens in new tab) reporting that the drink improved the health of overweight people by helping them burn fat (opens in new tab) better. The secret, they say, is the ellagic acid in the juice which both boosts the metabolism and slows down the growth and formation of old and new fat cells.
Foods to eat on the Lose a Pound a Day diet:
- Plenty of vegetables - including root veg
- Organic chicken and turkey - no more than 100g, twice a week
- Lean red meat - 100g, once or twice a week
- Eggs – 2 a week
- Soya milk and yogurt - a little, several days a week
- Cheese - daily
- Rice – 2 tbsp per meal, 2 or 3 times a week
- Pasta – twice weekly
- 2 tbsp olive/sunflower oil - daily
- All fruits - BUT not after 4pm
- Wholegrains – couscous, oats, quinoa, etc
- A few nuts - twice a week
- Non-chlorinated water
- Fresh fruit juices
- Red grape juice (try Welch’s) – as a shot before meals
- 1 cup of coffee - in the morning
- A glass of wine in the evening - if you want
- Small glass of Andrews Liver Salts in the evening or morning, to help cleanse the liver
Foods to avoid on the Lose a Pound a Day diet:
- White sugar and flour
- Biscuits and cakes
- Mayonnaise and salad cream
- Ketchup and brown sauce
- All sweets
- Non-organic and cured meats
- Tortillas, crackers and crisps
How to Lose a Pound a Day phases
Phase one: Weight loss
During phase one, dieters can enjoy three meals and two healthy snacks (opens in new tab) a day for a week. These are however portion controlled low-calorie meals (opens in new tab), which in turn will help with weight loss.
"The first week is a Swiss-style detox that’ll help eliminate the first 5lb of waste, then nourish your system," says Monica Grenfell.
She adds that dieters should drink plenty of water (opens in new tab) alongside meals, and to get out for fresh air when available. Also don't forget the small daily glass of liver salts which are important to the cleanse.
Example meal plan:
- Breakfast: 1/2 grapefruit or small glass fresh ruby grapefruit juice 30g oats cooked in water with a date added while cooking. Plus 1 small apple and cup of coffee or green tea.
- Mid-morning snack: 1 apple or carrot. Or swap this for a slice of Swiss cheese.
- Lunch: Steamed vegetable platter – any amount of sliced vegetables, plus 1 small potato, boiled and sliced with a splash of oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Mid-afternoon snack: 1/2 avocado or 1/2 apple. Or swap this for Brazil nuts.
- Dinner: Shot of grape juice to start. Folowed by a 300ml bowl of fresh spinach soup, a plate of steamed broccoli (any amount) with 1 medium potato, boiled and sliced and oil and vinegar to dress.
Phase two: Maintenance
Step two on the Lose a Pound a Day diet sees the return of protein to your diet. But again keep portions of this to 100-150g a day. Dieters should stay on this phase for 2 weeks, with the idea that the practises learnt on the plan will continue to be followed afterwards as part of a new healthy lifestyle.
"In week 2, The Maintenance Plan, you can put an end to bad habits and poor nutrition and can expect to lose around 10lb in two weeks," says Monica Grenfell. "Keep to the basic principles of the diet, always have a healthy mid-morning or afternoon snack and eat vegetables or salad at lunchtimes."
Example meal plan:
- Breakfast: 250ml ruby grapefruit juice, 3 tbsp Swiss Bircher Muesli, 1 slice rye bread, toasted, with 2 tsp pure fruit spread. Plus a cup of green tea.
- Mid-morning snack: 6 cucumber and carrot sticks with 1 tsp houmous. Or a pear or handful of nuts.
- Lunch: Steamed vegetable platter. Unlimited broccoli, carrots, courgettes and peppers in an olive oil and vinegar dressing.
- Mid-afternoon snack: 1 rye crispbread with 2 tsp honey or soft cheese. 1/2 avocado or an apple.
- Dinner: Small glass red grape juice. Fillet steak, grilled, with as many roasted vegetables as you want and one small boiled potato. Or Pan-fried chicken or turkey breast, served with roasted vegetables.
After two weeks on the maintenance plan, dieters can return to their normal eating habits. Whilst healthy choices are still encouraged, treating yourself to something sweet shouldn't make you feel guilty:
"Don’t worry about the odd indulgence, just don’t make it a habit," says Monica. "You will know when you’ve gone too far as your body, face and hair will tell you – you might sleep badly, feel low or your periods might be erratic."
Is it safe to lose a pound a day?
Diets that work fast to produce weight loss are often safe to follow for a very limited amount of time. Yet losing a pound a day is not something one can sustainably keep achieving - if at all.
"Although the diet is possible, losing one pound a day is not necessarily a sustainable method to lose weight in the long term," says nutritional practitioner Daniel Harris of E-Bikes Direct (opens in new tab). "When aiming for weight loss, the general rule of thumb is to lose one pound a week, rather than one pound a day."
He adds that those with certain health conditions should always consult with their doctor before embarking on an extreme diet like this. And that for healthy individuals, he wouldn't recommend following this plan more than once a year.
What are the pros?
✅ Detoxes - "A high-fibre, low-calorie intake will help expel as many toxins as possible," says Monica.
✅ Body benefits - Monica says the Lose a Pound a Day diet "nourishes good bacteria in your body and relieves food allergies. Plus the constant cell turnover means you are literally growing a new and healthier body".
✅ Fresh food and fibre - "This diet encourages healthier eating, with an increase in fibre, something which a massive 90% of Brits are expected to be deficient in," Daniel Harris tells us.
✅ Portion control - "This diet encourages portion control, which is one of the biggest reasons for weight gain, as we tend not to be mindful of our portion sizes," says Daniel Harris. "By reducing overeating, we reduce the chance of weight gain and encourage a healthier lifestyle."
What are the cons?
❌ Side effects - According to Daniel Harris, the low-calorie focus could lead to dieters experiencing "nausea, dizziness, and fatigue". A 2013 study (opens in new tab) also found that diets which restrict calories can affect the hormones leptin and ghrelin which regulate our hunger and appetite.
❌ Not sustainable long term - The first phase in particular is restrictive in nature and calories which can't be followed for a long period time. Above all, this puts a person at risk of developing a nutrient deficiency.
❌ Weight regain - Dietitian Claire Muszalski of Myprotein (opens in new tab) gives it to us straight: "Any diet promising dramatic results in 14 days is typically a short term loss of water weight that does not lead to sustainable lifestyle changes."
The Lose a Pound a Day diet - a nutritionist's verdict?
For nutritional practitioner Daniel Harris, the Lose a Pound a Day diet is a quick-fix diet that doesn't support sustainable weight loss.
"As a long-term solution, I would not recommend taking part in the lose a pound a day diet," he tells us.
"Although the diet encourages healthy eating and portion control, this diet is not a sustainable way to lose weight, as nutritional deficiency, dehydration and a slower metabolism are too big of risks. I’d instead recommend drinking plenty of water and increasing your fibre inake in order to lose weight safely."
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