How to lose a pound a day: A guide to the Swiss-inspired diet

They may be famous for cheese and chocolate, yet the Swiss are officially the slimmest in Europe. So what's their secret?

a collage showing a bowl of soup and a calendar to show how to lose a pound a day diet
(Image credit: Future)

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 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 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 that 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.

The diet 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 and grape juice.

Greek yoghurt is recommended on the Lose a Pound a Day diet

(Image credit: Cartto32/Getty Images)

To the Swiss, everything is achievable through good diet and they are right – most weight gain 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 (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.

Essentially a high fibre diet, it restricts high-protein foods during phase one:

Too much protein makes the body acidic, resulting in energy crashes and overeating. 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 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,. Seen as a pre-meal cleanse for the system, they also take the edge off your appetite. A red grape juice is recommended for its high vitamin content.

Science certainly supports upping your intake of red grape juice too. With one Oregon State University study reporting that the drink improved the health of overweight people by helping them burn fat 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
  • Butter
  • 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 a day for a week. These are however portion controlled low-calorie meals, 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.

Dieters should drink plenty of water 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.

a woman drinking from a plastic bottle of water

Credit: Getty

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. 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.

Note: Don’t worry about the odd indulgence, just don’t make it a habit. 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. "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.

✅  Body benefits - 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 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 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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Anna Bailey
Digital Editor

Anna Bailey is the editor of GoodTo. She joined the team in June 2018 but has been a lifestyle writer and online editor for more than 14 years. Anna graduated from Bournemouth University in 2004 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism and went on to gain her NCTJ and NCE  journalism qualifications. She began her career in local journalism, working as a reporter for the Basingstoke Gazette in Hampshire.  As Lifestyle Editor for she managed the websites for the broadcaster’s best-loved shows including This Morning, Loose Women, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Coleen's Real Women, and Britain's Best Dish. Before joining she was also a Features Editor at MSN UK and Digital Lifestyle Editor for the broadcaster UKTV. She’s also contributed to The Mirror, The Sun, LoveFood, LoveExploring, and TBSeen.