May 102013

In my book The Consumer’s Good Chemical Guide, published in 1994, I wrote about what I called the Boring Diet and this was based on 1000 calories a day. It was boring because you ate the same meals every day for 14 days, at the end of which time you would be guaranteed to have lost 14 pounds if you were a  man and 10 pounds if you were a women.

The diet was balanced in terms of carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre, but it is boring. Indeed this was an essential part of the diet because you would always be aware that you were cheating if you varied it in any way,  beyond a simple choice of ham, chicken or beef in you mid-day sandwich.

And it worked! I had letters from people who tried it, including one man in Belgium who stuck to it for 20 days and lost 20 pounds. What I didn’t know was that the husband of one of the judges of the Science Book Prize panel also tried the diet and he too lost weight accordingly. The following year the book won the Science Book Prize, although I cannot think that was a deciding factor!

The Boring Diet is easy to remember because all the meals contain foods that begin with B. The is All-Bran for breakfast pus an orange or apple, corned beef sandwich for lunch, and baked beans for tea. The diet also includes four small slices of bread and low fat spread, artificial sweeteners for hot drinks, 400 mls of skimmed milk, and as much lettuce and tomato as you like as side salad, but no dressings other than vinegar and salt.

When you diet you cannot defeat the laws of chemistry and if you don’t take in enough calories (actually kilocalories) to meet the body’s needs then it has to draw upon your stocks of stored energy, first in the form of glycogen, which is in every cell,  and when that has been used up it has to start using fat.  The store of glycogen lasts about 3 days and weight loss may be rapid at first but then slow down as you start using fat. Fat is a much more economical way of storing energy. A gram of glycogen provides 4 calories but fat provides 9 calories.

If people tell you that they have tried a 1000 calorie diet and didn’t lose much weight then you can be sure that they were cheating, but don’t say you don’t believe them. There’s no point in being confrontational. Just try such a diet yourself and then you can boast how it worked for you.