We’ve had a lot of requests for information about this diet plan over the last year or two. We were not impressed with the lack of information or even simple contact information on their website. There was no indication that the creators of the diet had any interest or knowledge in nutrition. Instead, the website and subscription program were created by a company called “Internet Made Simple”. This left us feeling a little more than leary about the plan and we had difficulty recommending that anyone hand over their money for a mysterious and anonymous diet plan. We believe that everyone should be well aware of what a diet plan has to offer before paying for it. We’ve also heard from people that did pay for the subscription and were disappointed. The best review of all came from a Toronto newspaper journalist, Megan Ogilvie, who graciously gave us permission to reprint her article on Fat Loss 4 Idiots from her Diet Decoder column.
DIET: www.FatLoss4Idiots.com ($27 U.S./$31.47 Cdn for 90-day access to website)
CREATOR: A California-based company called Internet Made Simple.
CELEBRITY EDGE: None. What celebrity would endorse a diet with that moniker?
CLAIM: Lose nine pounds every 11 days. The diet’s creators claim that the key to weight loss is to rotate eating patterns and to shift calorie consumption. They say the body’s metabolism burns calories based on past eating habits and that it assumes these habits will stay the same. If people eat different types of calories every day, they will trick their body’s metabolism into burning all of the calories consumed, as well as the “nearest available fat tissue” on the body.
PROGRAM: The diet sells itself on being “idiot-proof.” That is, people who sign up for the website don’t have to count calories, read labels or come up with meal plans. The website relies on an “online diet generator” to automatically compute a “customized diet.”
To start, dieters choose up to 30 foods from a list of 46 choices. The diet generator creates an 11-day meal plan with four meals per day that can be eaten in any order. There are no calorie limits at any meal; dieters eat until they are satisfied, but not full. After 11 days, dieters can eat whatever they like for three days. They can then use the diet generator again to create a new 11-day plan.
SIDE NOTES: The website offers a second weight-loss plan that also relies on the idea of rotating calories. This one consists of 10 rules and comes in the form of a 45-page e-book. Rule 9 recommends one hour of gentle walking every day; the diet’s creators claim that non-strenuous exercise burns fat.
ALLOWED: Only the foods listed on the 11-day meal plan and any low-calorie condiments. Diet soft drinks, coffee, tea and water are also allowed.
PROHIBITED: Anything else.
EXPERT OPINION: This is a very misleading website, says Toronto-based registered dietitian Stephanie De Maio. It promises a fast, easy and customized weight-loss plan comprised of people’s favourite foods. But the diet is, in fact, extremely restrictive in terms of food choices, she says.
“People who log on to the website will fall for its promises,” De Maio says. “People feel in control of their diet when they can choose foods they like to eat.”
Meals created by the diet generator are bizarre. De Maio lists some of the meals on her 11-day plan: “Day 1, Meal 1 is cheese sticks and cottage cheese. Another meal is 1 ounce of cheese and low-calorie salad dressing.”
Foods on the meal plan are generally low in calories and carbohydrates and higher in protein. De Maio points out that many of these foods, such as luncheon meats, are high in sodium. These are poor choices, she adds, since the average Canadian already eats more more than the daily sodium allowance. The diet is also low in nutrient density and people who stick with the plan are in danger of becoming nutrient deficient.
People who do lose weight on this plan are likely losing water, not fat. As soon as the 11 days are up and people return to their old eating habits, any lost weight will be gained back, De Maio says. While there is a weight-loss concept based on zigzagging calories to increase metabolism, De Maio says it hasn’t been proven scientifically.
“This is a very discouraging plan,” she says. “Any weight loss will be extremely temporary. This is not a healthy, balanced way to lose weight.”
The website’s second weight loss plan is equally bizarre, De Maio says. “Their recommendation to avoid strenuous activity to burn fat is wrong,” she says. “It is a fact that the harder you work out, the more calories you burn. Strenuous activities and weight-bearing activities that push muscles to 80 to 90 per cent heart rate do burn the most fat.”
EXPERT VERDICT: “This is a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate diet that relies on foods low on the glycemic index. It’s high in sodium and low in nutrients. People who try this diet will only last 11 days before they crave other foods, eat them and gain back any weight they lost. It’s not worth the 20 pieces of paper I printed it on.”
OUR VERDICT: Please, please, please don’t try this diet.