How to Lose Weight Well Series 4 Channel 4

How to Lose Weight Well Series 4 Channel 4

By Trudi Purdy, wlr team

Series 6 January 2021 Review Here


Update: Back for a one-off Summer special, on Chanel 4 Tuesday 4th August 2020 at 8pm

Dr Zand and crew coach a new set of testers on weird and wonderful summer diets, including:

  • Summer Sandwich Diet
  • Sexy Pineapple Diet
  • Citrus Diet.
  • Summer Salad Diet
  • Greek Island Longevity Diet
  • South American Diet

Under the spotlight for extra investigation are:

  • Vitamins - pills or food?
  • Teas good for slimming?

We'll be back with our full review of the show in a few days!

We are a nation devoted to dieting. Whether it’s a new start in the New Year, a new relationship or a new season, there’s always something we want to slim down for.

But with the 1000s of diets coming at us in adverts on TV and social media, how do we know which one is the best one for us?

How to Lose Weight Well aims to investigate the most talked about diets and fads to help you sort the wheat from the chaff. And with some of experts involved having lost weight, they at least have some insider knowledge about the struggle of being overweight.

Presenter, Dr Xand van Tulleken has lost 6 stone and cook Stacy Stewart lost 3 stone. They were joined for this series by Dr Helen Lawal.

Each episode, the team give 3 lots of volunteers diets to follow and Stacy cooks dishes with food from the diets to show them what is possible. The volunteers are split into 3 groups:

  • Crashers – who want to lose weight in a week
  • Shape Shifters – who want to lose weight over a 6 week period
  • Life Changers – who want to lose weight over 3 months

But does the program really help?

We’ll be checking each episode out and bringing you the skinny each week so, let’s take a look . . .

Episode 4 – Being Hangry, Alcohol and Body Clocks

The diets covered in this episode were:

  • The Italian Diet
  • The Multicooker Diet
  • The Body Clock Diet
  • The Blender Diet
  • The No Grain Diet
  • The Fist Diet

Xand also took a look at how alcohol affects us and whether being ‘hangry’ is a real thing.

The Crashers

Friends and work colleagues, Jonno and Alfie both wanted to lose weight for a family BBQ that was just 2 weeks away.

Alfie said,

‘I definitely have a sweet tooth. If I can add extra sugar to it, I’ll add extra sugar to it.

His wife likes making cakes so he’s surrounded by temptation. During the interview, there were three large cakes in the kitchen – that’s quite a lot of cake to have around in one go!

Jonno said that it would be nice to be able to see his shoes when he looked down!

Alfie weighed in at 17 stone 3lbs and Jonno was 15 stone 3lbs.

The diet that Jonno got was the Multicooker Diet created by blogger, Brittany Williams. Brittany lost 9 stone in a year by eating food cooked in a multicooker.

The diet focuses on 2 meals a day being cooked in the gadget that does the work of a roasting tin, a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, s steamer and a fryer. The diet also advises eating plenty of veg and lean protein with limited carbs. (Not sure with this one if it will be the gadget that helps Jonno to lose weight of if it is the sorts of foods that he was eating instead – his diet pretty much consisted of grab ‘n go and fast food before!)

Alfie’s diet was the Nutribullet Lean 7 Day Transformation Diet (the Blender Diet). This diet means that 2 meals a day would be smoothies made from mainly veg with a little fruit, with 1 portion-controlled meal that needs to be chewed thoroughly.

The Life Changers

48 year old identical twins, Michelle and Mandi, want to lose weight for a black tie event in 4 months.

Michelle said,

‘We’ve never dieted together. Mandi has gone on a diet and lost a few pounds and then I’ve thought oh gosh, I need to lose weight because I don’t want to be the fat twin!’

Mandi said,

‘I remember when I went on the aeroplane and I put the seatbelt on and I barely could do it up. I thought 1 more inch and I’m going to need an extender on my belly!’

Michelle weighed 15 stone 3lbs and Mandi was 15 stone 10lbs.

Michelle was given the Mama Mia! Diet (The Italian Diet). It’s based on eating Mediterranean food cooked from fresh with lots of veg, fish, nuts and whole grains, with a glass of red wine a night if you want it.

Mandi got the No Grain Diet which makes grains and carbs the villain and focuses on protein, non-starchy veg and fats. It comprises of 3 meals a day and 3 snacks.

The Shape Shifters

Sonal and Surekha had an engagement party in 6 weeks that they wanted to slim down for. Surekha said,

‘My weight became an increasing problem after I had my daughter. She’s 3 now so that excuse, really doesn’t fly anymore!’

Sonal said that she felt heavy and podgy and wanted to be back to bouncing around like she used to be.

The ladies both agreed that food played a big part in their social lives. Any kind of celebration or occasion was marked with food.

Both ladies weighed in at 13 stone 5lbs and both wanted to lose around a stone in time for the party.

Sonal got a portion controlled diet called the Fist Diet – all portion sizes are measured out by the size of your fist, palm or cupped hands. It recommends lots of veg, lean protein and dairy.

Stacy said this diet was classic dieting – portion control and no banned foods.

Surekha got the Body Clock Diet. The idea behind this one is that it works with the body’s natural circadian rhythms to give it a reset and help you lose weight. It has strict timings for eating and exercise and limits processed foods.

How Did They All Get On?

The Crashers

Alfie - Blender Diet


  • Drink 2 smoothies daily
  • Eat a portion controlled meal a day
  • Eat 2 healthy snacks


  • Eat gluten, dairy, sugar or alcohol
  • Eat fried food

Jonno – The Multicooker Diet


  • Cook 2 meals a day using the multicooker
  • Cook in batches for convenience
  • Enjoy eggs, meat and veg


  • Eat bread, pasta or white rice
  • Overload portions

Alfie wasn’t overly pleased with his diet. He said,

‘No dairy, no alcohol, no fizzy drinks. I don’t know what I’m going to be able to drink!’

Jonno agreed with Alfie that his diet was going to be hard. He said,

‘I’ve seen Alfie’s diet and seen what he’s got to do and I think I’ve been given the better end of the deal!’

Alfie really struggled with his diet, suffering from headaches and lack of energy. He even got to the point where he couldn’t stomach the smoothies because they were making him feel sick. He did say there was a bright side and he had to keep pulling his trousers up.

Jonno, on the other hand, was really getting into his diet and said his trousers felt looser.

The Crashers’ Results

Jonno lost 8lbs with his diet but, Alfie lost an impressive 1 stone 2lbs!

Although he wasn’t convinced that the diet was sustainable, he said,

‘I am absolutely over the moon with how much weight I’ve actually lost.’

The Life Changers

Michelle – The Mama Mia! Diet


  • Cook from scratch
  • Start with salad
  • Enjoy 1 glass of red wine a day if wanted (187.5ml)


  • Consume sugar
  • Eat pasta after lunch

Mandi – The Grain Free Diet


  • Eat lean meats, fish and non-starchy veg
  • Eat 3 regular meals a day
  • Enjoy 3 healthy snacks a day


  • Eat 2 hours before bed
  • Consume sugar
  • Drink tea and coffee

Michelle was very keen on her diet, especially because she could have red wine and chocolate – although in moderation. However, Mandi was not so keen on hers. She said,

Basically, all the food I eat every day is banned. So’s the drink I drink. Gosh it’s so strict. I think I’m gonna be a bit grumpy for a while until I get used to this.’

By day 4 Mandi was really struggling and Michelle was loving her diet! She hadn’t even had any wine by day 4 as she just didn’t feel she wanted it.

Both ladies decided to start exercising together and week 10 saw them take up jogging – in all weathers!

The Life Changers’ Results

Mandi lost a respectable 12lbs but Michelle managed 1 stone 9lbs! (That’s the Mediterranean Diet for you!)

Michelle said,

‘I think this diet sounds too good to be true, in reality it’s not. It’s the best diet I have ever been on.’

Mandi was not so impressed with hers. She said that it was boring, badly designed, difficult to follow – everything you don’t want in a diet.

The Shape Shifters

Sonal – The Fist Diet


  • Follow strict portion sizes
  • Eat 1 fist carbs and 1 palm protein
  • Eat 2 hands of salad or leafy veg


  • Use someone else’s fist
  • Snack
  • Drink sugary drinks

Surekha – The Body Clock Diet


  • Get up early (6am) and go to bed before 11pm
  • Eat at specific times (every 3 hours)
  • Exercise daily (at 5.30pm)


  • Ban foods
  • Drink alcohol in the first 2 weeks

Surekha said she really liked the idea of her diet as she could pop it into a spreadsheet and she loves a good spreadsheet! 5 days in a she said she was feeling nice and even, including her mood.

She said she was sleeping better and going to the toilet more regularly.

Sonal said she felt she was doing really well on her diet – especially when there was a training day at work with lots of goodies all laid out – she managed to resist. Unfortunately, she caved in the evening and had burger and fries. But she got right back on it the next day.

The Shape Shifters’ Results

Sonal lost 9lbs. She said,

‘I feel so good and I didn’t do much. That’s the best thing. I just made some small changes.’

Surekha lost 10lbs and said she was feeling really good. She said she thought she would carry on following the regime.

Is Hanger Real?

Along with ‘selfie’ and ‘snowflake’ ‘hanger’ has become a 21st century buzzword. A combination of hunger and anger, it describes a sudden irrational rage but Xand wanted to know if it was real.

He decided to take part in some tests set up by Dr Ruth Hackett, a behavioural scientist, to see if it was.

Dr Hackett wouldn’t tell him what the tests were that she had him doing and he had his blood pressure measured and some bloods taken.

One test was to trace around a star reflected in a mirror with a pen. Sound easy? It really wasn’t!

Xand said,

‘So Ruth asked me to come back in a couple of hours and do the same tests again but without having any food in my belly. I have to say, I’m not looking forward to it and I am really confused!’

The production team then sat and ate their lunch in front of Xand and, unbeknown to Xand, they had been asked to keep the stress levels up throughout. They had hired an actor to be an incompetent member of the production team. He kept making mistakes and getting phone calls while they were trying to film – generally being a bit of a pain. Xand was definitely very grumpy by this point.

He then repeated the tests that Dr Hackett had arranged. After he had completed the test, Dr Hackett took his blood pressure and bloods again to compare to the previous results. That’s when she explained that the test were designed to increase his stress levels and explained about the actor hired to stress him out.

His blood pressure had gone up – no surprise there. But what was a surprise was the time it took before it returned to a more normal level. He said,

‘So this means that everyone in the UK that skips lunch and then has a stressful meeting are then stressed for the next hour.

This isn’t good for the cardiovascular system and being hangry has been linked to a couple of occasions of cardiac arrest according to Dr Hackett.

So hangry? Yep, science says it definitely exists.

Does Alcohol Affect Your Calorie Intake in More Ways Than One?

Xand wanted to know who is worse off at the end of a drinking session – the drinkers or the designated drivers. And whether drinking affects your choices when it comes to food.

Dr Christiansen said that in a nationwide survey, people vastly underestimated the amount of calories they were consuming when drinking.

People who drank beer underestimated by 60%

People who drank wine underestimated by 80%

So Dr Christiansen devised a test to illustrate what would happen. They got a group of 4 students together for an afternoon drink with one of the group drinking soft drinks as the designated driver. After having 4 drinks each, the students were asked to guesstimate how many calories they thought they had consumed.

  • Harry had beer. He guessed 1000 calories. He actually had 880 calories.
  • Will had wine. He guessed 600-700 calories. He actually had 640 calories.
  • Sachin had vodka. He guessed 100-110 calories. He actually had 440 calories.
  • George had orange juice. He guessed 400-500 calories. He actually had 440 calories.

Even designated drivers need to watch the calories they consume. But is it just what you’re drinking that you need to worry about on a night out?

Then the students were let loose on a buffet to see whether the alcohol would change the amount they ate. Dr Christiansen said that when we consume alcohol, the prefrontal cortex of the brain becomes less sufficient. This is the bit that allows you to self regulate and controls your behaviour. And, it only takes 4-5 units of alcohol for the prefrontal cortex to be affected.

What did the students eat?

  • George – Designated driver – ate 1130 cals of food – total for the session 1570 cals
  • Sachin – Vodka drinker – ate 1100 cals of food – total for the session 1540 cals
  • Harry – Beer drinker – ate 1520 cals of food – total for the session 2400 cals
  • Will – Wine drinker – ate 2030 cals of food – Total for the session 2670 cals

Xand said,

‘It’s clearly easy to drink your calories but it’s also the effect that alcohol has on your brain when it comes to food after drinking that we need to watch.’

Episode 3 Visualising Fat Loss and Freezing It

The diets covered in the episode were:

  • The Fat Flush Diet
  • The Mind-Body Diet
  • The Psychological Diet
  • The Dopamine Diet
  • The OMAD Diet
  • The Grazing Diet

Xand also looked at the Gastric Balloon Pill and Cryolipolysis.

The Crashers

Mum, Sandra and daughter, Cherise both want to lose a dress size for Cherise’s 30th birthday party in 12 days.

Sandra did all the cooking at home and Cherise felt like she was living in a  restaurant with all the lovely food her mum cooked.

Cherise is a real meat eater and Sandra really enjoys cooking. Sandra said,

‘When Cherise walks in at her birthday party, I want to be this gorgeous mama next to her.

Sandra weighed in at 12 stone 1lb and Cherise was 11 stone 7lbs,

Sandra’s diet was the Fat Flush Diet (Cleansing Diet). It starts with a 3 day detox of just liquid and the author, A L Gittleman claims you can lose 12lbs in 12 days.

Stacy created a ‘Metabolic Cocktail’ for Sandra using parsley, tomatoes and greens. It was thick, green and looked disgusting! Stacy said,

‘It’s a bit rough but eyes on the prize. You’ve only got to do it for a few days.’

Sandra didn’t look impressed and, when she tried it she confirmed that it was, indeed, disgusting. Definitely as far removed as you could be from the African food she was used to cooking for her and Cherise!

Cherise’s diet was the Mind-Body Cleanse, a vegan based diet! Her worst nightmare she said. She is a massive meat lover.

Stacy made her a berry and nut salad and blended silken tofu as a dressing. It looked beautiful and colourful but Cherise really wasn't sure.

Life Changers

Pip and Donna had a muddy obstacle race they wanted to get slimmer and fitter for in 4 month’s time.

Working mum Pip said that she had 2 or 3 takeaways a week.

‘It’s embarrassing when you get a Christmas card from the pizza shop!’

Donna, a mental health nurse, is on the go all day so her diet left a lot to be desired as she always grabbed food on the go. She also finds her job quite stressful and food is her comfort. One of her well-known, favourite combos was mashed potato with a Pot Noodle tipped over the top!

Donna weighed in at 22 stone 12lbs and Pip was 20 stone 5lbs.

Pip’s diet was Tom Kerridge’s Dopamine Diet.

It centres on ingredients that claim to boost the happy hormone - increase the happiness, increase your motivation.

It is also low carb and high protein.

Donna was going to visualise herself slimmer with the Psychological Diet. There are no food restrictions on this diet - you use visualization techniques to help you lose the weight. The diet author, Jon Gabriel, claims that negative thinking makes your body store more fat!

The Shape Shifters

Dan and Rob wanted to get fit enough or a charity football match game in 6 weeks.

As work colleagues and mates, the were always in competition with each other and they even found they egged each other on with food. Whenever they ate together, it was always big.

Rob said,

‘I can’t remember the last time I ate a salad!’

Dan said,

‘I’ve got my boy and he’s running me ragged. I can’t keep up with a 5 year old!’

Dan weighed in at 20 stone 3lbs and Rob was 22 stone 11lbs.

Dan was given the OMAD diet (one meal a day). He would only be eating 1 meal a day but it would have to be eaten within a 1 hour window. Then he would fast for 23 hours.

Rob got the Grazing Diet. The author, Helen Foster, says that eating regularly stops us from getting hungry and stops the metabolism slowing down. He would be eating 3 meals and 3 snacks a day but the portion would be small.

Both the lads seemed to be looking forward to their diets.

How Did They All Get On?


Cherise - The Mind-Body Cleanse


  • Eat vegan only
  • Enjoy healthy snacks
  • Stop when 70% full


  • Eat after 8pm

Sandra - The Fat Flush Diet


  • Detox for 3 days first
  • Eat veg & protein
  • Regular trampolining (Huh? Pretty specific exercise!)


  • No grains
  • Cook in trans fat

Cherise said,

‘My mind is like, yeah you can do this, you’ve got this. But my body is like, if you don’t put some real food in me, I’m about to shut this show down!’

Cherise really struggled with not eating meat and slipped up at an event with some BBQ Jerk Chicken.

Sandra really disliked the detox drinks she had to drink but really enjoyed the trampolining.

The Crashers’ Results

Cherise lost 5lbs and Sandra lost 8lbs.

Cherise had hoped to lose a bit more but she was happy she got through the 12 days. She said she didn’t think her diet was sustainable for her. She would make changes to it, like adding in meat!

Sandra said,

‘I’ve lost 8lbs in 12 days. How amazing is that?’

She said she felt great and had really enjoyed the trampolining.

The Life Changers

Donna - The Psychological Diet


  • Listen to visualization twice a day
  • Use fresh, unprocessed ingredients
  • Eat lots of fruit, veg, nuts and seeds


  • Deprive yourself of specific foods
  • Count calories

Pip - The Dopamine Diet


  • Eat dopamine boosting foods
  • Source good quality meat
  • Exercise daily


  • Eat white starchy carbs
  • Drink alcohol

Donna said that she definitely felt transported to a different place during her first visualisation session. She seemed really chilled. And when she’d popped into the shop when she was really hungry, she had opted for watermelon slices instead of her normal sugary snacks and chocolate.

Pip’s first meal was a sausage omelette and she seemed to really enjoy it. However, both of them slipped up on their diets while they were on holiday.

About 3 weeks into their diets, both girls started their training for the muddy obstacle race with 5 minute interval running.

The Life Changers’ Results

Donna lost 12lbs and Pip managed to lose 13lbs.

Pip said,

‘I’m proper chuffed with myself. This diet works for me, it might not work for everyone but it works for me. So, I’m sticking to it.’

Donna said,

‘Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.’

The Shape Shifters

Dan - OMAD Diet


  • Eat what you want for 1 meal (1700 cal max)
  • Drink alcohol
  • Fast for 23 hours


  • Eat outside the 1 hour window

Rob - The Grazing Diet


  • Eat every 2-3 hours
  • Stick to recommended dishes
  • Stick to 350 calories per meal


  • Eat sugary snacks

On the first day Dan was starving by the time he could have his 1 meal. He said,

‘It’s been torture! I’m getting a bit touchy now. I just want some food.’

But as the days went on, his body seemed to get used to the idea he was only eating at a certain time.

Rob struggled to find his normal convenience foods that fitted within the 350 cal limit - not surprisingly. And he really wasn’t keen on the herbal teas that were recommended.

The Shape Shifters’ Results

Dan lost 1 stone 5lbs and said,

‘Ii haven’t seen 18 stone since I was about 10!’

Rob had lost a massive 2 stone 6lbs! He said,

‘I can see my ribs when I lie down.’

And with a raised eyebrow and a cheeky grin, he said,

‘And I can see other things!’

Weight Loss Surgery

With around a quarter of British adults classed as obese, more people are resorting to invasive procedures like gastric bypass surgery in a desperate attempt to lose weight.

Xand investigated the Gastric Balloon Pill procedure that is non-invasive and claims to help you lose 2 stone 5lbs in 4 months.

Basically, the patient swallows a capsule that contain a balloon that is then filled with saline when in the stomach. It expands and takes up about two thirds of the stomach, making the patient feel full. Then, after 4 months, it degrades and passes through the body.

Xand spoke to Dr Alex Miras of the NHS to get his opinion. He told Xand that nearly all of the patients that go through this procedure gain the weight back with 1-2 years. A bit of a waste of £3000 then?

Xand said,

‘That’s a much more pessimistic view than I was expecting. It might not be the magic weight loss pill you’ve been looking for.’

Fat Freezing

A while ago, scientists at Harvard noticed that children who ate lots of ice lollies started getting dimples in their cheeks. A condition called Popsicle Panniculitis.

They realised what was happening was the ice lollies were freezing little pockets of fat cells in the kids’ cheeks and eliminating them. Ta da! Fat Freezing was born!

Xand decided to give it a try. It’s called Cryolipolysis. Basically, a machine sucks the area in and freezes it. Then the practitioner massages the area to make sure all of the cells are affected. One area, like the tummy, costs around £750 and takes around 35 minutes. The area treated should reduce by about 30%.

Xand said it was really, really uncomfortable when the fat had been frozen and was being massaged. He said t was like the worst pins and needles he had ever experienced. He went on to say,

‘If you don’t mind the steep price tag and haven’t got much fat to lose, maybe this is the right treatment for you. Personally, as a way of tackling my tummy, it leaves me cold.’

Next time, one of the diets involves red wine and pasta and Xand gets hangry!

Episode 2 From Eating Charcoal to Unconscious Persuasion

The diets covered in this episode were:

  • The Charcoal Diet
  • The Lighter Life Diet
  • Jane Plan
  • The Superfood Diet
  • The Dessert with Breakfast Diet
  • The MacDonald’s diet. (Yep you read that right!)

Xand also looked at liposculpture and unconscious persuasion to help you get the body you want.

The Crashers

This episode introduced us to Sade and Becky who had a day at the races planned in two weeks.

Sade was given the Dessert with Breakfast Diet and Becky got the Charcoal Diet.

Becky said that whenever her and Sade met up, it involved food and, of course, alcohol. Sade said,

‘It’s embarrassing. It’s like my whole life might revolve around food.’

Sade weighed in at 14 stone 1lb and Becky weighed in at 13 stone 1lb.

Xand said the diets chosen for the girls were from complete opposite ends of the spectrum.

Becky got the Charcoal Diet.

A listers such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian are said to be fans of this cleanse.

Basically, Becky will have to replace one meal a day with a juice containing activated charcoal. It works, apparently, by ridding the body of toxins as the charcoal, containing millions of tiny pores, absorbs the chemicals in our bodies.

One side effect is that medication quite often doesn’t work while on the diet so the contraceptive pill is ineffective.

Cook, Stacy, created a charcoal lemonade with water, some berries, a squeeze of lemon juice and the activated charcoal. It looked, erm . . . gritty.

Sade’s diet was the Dessert with Breakfast diet.

Based on research by some Israeli scientists who found those people who ate a bigger breakfast lost more weight and kept it off for longer than those who ate a smaller one.

The diet encourages eating more calories in the morning and every breakfast should include chocolate, cake, ice cream or doughnuts. The reason behind the sweet stuff is that the authors believe it stops craving later in the day.

The Life Changers

Bus drivers Sam and Fay had an annual bus driver’s picnic to attend in 4 month’s time.

Fay said,

‘There’s not a single part of my body that I’m happy with apart from my eyes because they can’t gain weight.’

Sam said she felt she needed to do something about her weight when people started coming up to her and rubbing her belly for luck like a little Buddha!

Fay weighed in at 15 stone 10lbs and Sam weighed 17 stone 5lbs.

Fay said,

‘Me and my partner want to start a family soon so I couldn’t’ be more determined.’

Both ladies struggle with cooking from scratch and quite often eat takeaways for their evening meals. Helen said,

‘Neither of these diets are about cooking from scratch. They are all about convenience.’

Sam got the Jane Plan Diet Delivery service as her diet.

It’s a 1200 calorie a day diet and all of your meals and snacks are delivered to you, ready to pop in the microwave.

Stacy cooked a portion of the meatballs for Sam to try, served with a leafy salad. Although they can be microwaved, Stacy felt she needed to cook them on the hob.

‘Being a chef, I want to feel as though I’m doing some work.’

Fay got the Lighter Life Diet where you replace 2 meals a day with shakes, porridges and soup meal packs and have 1 meal a day from their approved healthy meal list. There is also a support group with a counsellor to join.

Denise Welch used this plan and attributes her 2 stone weight loss to it.

The Shape Shifters

Pals and workmates Bruce and Derek had bet each other £200 to see who could lose the most weight.

Bruce said his biggest weakness is chocolate. He said,

‘It’s just a box of joy, I’m not gonna lie.’

Derek said that when he met his wife, Rachel, he was a lot slimmer with long blonde hair and a six pack. He was hoping to get back to something similar.

Bruce weighed in at 15 stone 5lbs and Derek was 13 stone 9lbs.

Derek got the MacDonald’s Diet. The author of this diet claims that with a few tweaks to your normal order you can lose up to 14lbs in 30 days. But, the diet actually consists of eating the grilled chicken salad with a few plain burgers and the odd portion of nuggets thrown in. No sauces, no chips and no milkshakes.

Bruce was given the Superfoods diet by W Bazilian, S Pratt and K Matthews.

The authors claim this diet can help you lose up to 8lbs in two weeks.

The food is full of nutrients but can only be eaten in certain combinations.

How Did they All Get On?


Sade – The Dessert with Breakfast Diet


  • Eat 600 cal breakfast
  • Eat 500 cal lunch
  • Eat 300 cal dinner


  • Eat any other food
  • Eat sweets at any other time of the day than breakfast
  • Drink sugary drinks

Sade suffered with energy in the first few days and found she was feeling hungry. But by day 6, she felt better and had more energy.

Becky – The Charcoal Diet


  • Buy pre-made charcoal drinks or make her won using capsules
  • Eat 3 healthy meals
  • Drink water


  • Drink other sugary drinks
  • Take supplements
  • Take charcoal while on any medication

Becky made her first drink in her makeshift kitchen in the garage (she was having building work done on her house). She said,

‘This looks like something the builders should be using!’

She also tried the pre-made drinks but found they tasted just as bad.

The Crashers’ Results

Becky lost 7lbs and Sade lost 10lbs.

Becky said,

‘I would happily continue it and I really didn’t think I would say that at the start!’

Sade said,

‘I got sick of it. I’m not eating cake for breakfast anymore. I’m really looking forward to a bowl of cornflakes if I’m honest!’

The Life Changers

Sam – The Jane Plan Diet


  • Eat a choice of Asian, Mediterranean and British Dishes
  • Add fruit and veg as directed
  • Drink 1.5 litres of water a day


  • Eat any other meals or snacks
  • Drink soft drinks or fruit juice
  • Add milk to tea and coffee

Sam’s new best friend was the microwave. She was finding the diet really easy to follow and enjoying the food. She was excited when she found out that she could still have alcohol and didn’t have to exercise with the plan.

Fay – The Lighter Life Plan


  • Eat 3 foodpacks
  • Cook 1 meal
  • Drink the company’s own sugar free drinks


  • Add carbs
  • Drink alcohol
  • Drink fruit juices and soft drinks

Fay really struggled with the food she was eating not being very appetising and wasn’t keen on attending the support meetings. She said,

‘For 106 days I’ve got 6 savoury meals to choose from and 4 milkshake flavours. For me personally, I don’t feel confident discussing these topics with 30 people at once.’

When her delivery arrived, she was really shocked to find her Bolognese was powdered! That didn’t bode well for the next 4 months!

The Life Changers’ Results

The day of the annual picnic arrived and the girls had their weigh in. Sam had lost 3 stone 6lbs and Fay had lost 2 stone 6lbs.

Sam said she would recommend the diet she was on.

‘It’s just so easy. I can’t get over how easy it is.’

Fay didn’t fare so well, although she still lost an impressive amount of weight. She said,

‘The food isn’t nice really and there’s not a lot to choose from. The thing that worries me is I don’t know how to eat proper food.’

Shape Shifters

Bruce – The Superfoods Diet


  • Eat superfoods every day
  • Eat 1 meal of soup or salad every day
  • Have one completely veggie day a week


  • Drink alcohol
  • Eat after your evening meal

Bruce was doing find on his diet until day 6 where he was really struggling to wake up and felt really tired. He said he was definitely craving carbs.

Derek – The MacDonald’s Diet


  • Drink a protein shake to start the day
  • Eat chicken salad with the very occasional plain burger or portion of nuggets
  • Exercise daily


  • Supersize your order
  • Eat fries, shakes or sauces

Derek said that he was really struggling with the monotony of the diet and he felt like he was going to fall off the wagon.

The Shape Sifters’ Results

Derek lost 1 stone 3lbs but, winning the £200 was Bruce with a loss of 1 stone 9lbs.

Bruce said,

‘I’m really happy with this and this is something I’m going to stick with.’

Derek was not quite so enamoured with his diet. He said he wouldn’t carry it on and that it was the same, boring food, day after day.

Vaser Liposcuplture

Xand visited a plastic surgeon that specialises in Vaser Liposculpture. This procedure basically takes fat from where you don’t want it and puts it where you do. If you have a spare £10,000-£20,000 then it may well be for you.

Xand was present at an operation that remodelled the whole torso area of a male patient, Daniel. The op looked pretty gruesome and violent but, Daniel was really pleased with the results when he went back to the clinic for an after care appointment.

Meeting with Dr Paul Tully, an NHS plastic surgeon, for an unbiased opinion on the procedure, Xand asked if he would recommend it. Dr Tully said that he would possibly recommend it to patients that were at a stable weight and attended the gym quite often. But there are downsides to the procedure. It can cause a lot of discomfort while your body is recovering. And if you go to the wrong surgeon, lumpiness and deformities can be caused.

Can You Think Yourself Thin?

Xand said,

‘There are those that think our brains are the key to a healthy, stable weight and they say they can program us to eat less.’

This form of mind over matter is called Unconscious Persuasion.

Xand visited a clinical hypnotherapist, Aaron Sertis to see if he could persuade Xand to eat insects with hypnotherapy. Xand was very sceptical but he laid back and allowed Aaron to work his ‘magic’.

When the session was over, Xand did indeed eat the grasshoppers and seemed to enjoy them. He said,

‘I can’t quite believe it myself but hypnosis convinced me that I should gobble down grasshoppers.’

He then visited Sandra Rycroft-Davis who has created an app called SlimPod. It involves listening to voice and video clips for 9 minutes a day and claims to retrain your brain to avoid unhealthy food.

Sandra is trialling the app with NHS workers across the country. Xand spoke to Kevin and Dawn who were both giving the app ago. They were listening to the clips each day before bed for 12 weeks.

It seemed to work for both of them with Dawn losing 17lbs and Kevin losing a stone and a half.

Interesting stuff!

Next time Xand will experience fat freezing. It looks painful in the clips!

Episode 1 - From the Cabbage Regime to the Greggs Diet

The diets covered in this episode were:

  • The Cabbage Soup Diet
  • The Potato Diet
  • The Convenience Food Diet
  • The Wholefoods Diet
  • The Genetic Diet 
  • The Metabolic Diet

The Crashers

This episode introduced us to Charmaine and Caroline who wanted to lose weight in a week for a spa day they had booked.

Charmaine was given the Cabbage Soup Diet and Caroline the Potato Diet – both of which are Food Group Isolation Diets.

Charmaine weighed in at 11 stone 9lbs. She said,

‘It’s really hard to be a mum of two and eat healthily at the same time because I feel like I’ve got to treat myself for getting through the day with the kids.’

The Cabbage soup diet has A List advocates like Sarah Michelle Gellar and Dolly Parton but does come with a warning – May Cause Flatulence!

With the diet, all you eat is cabbage soup with a small amount of other veg, lean meat and some fruit. The author, Pamela Stevens, claims that you can lose up to 10lbs in a week.

Cook, Stacy, created a soup using veggies and tomato juice and cabbage, of course!

Charmaine tasted it and said, laughing,

‘It’s cabbagy!’

Caroline’s potato diet means she can only have potatoes for every meal – nothing else. Well, apart from 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a few herbs and spices. Caroline weighed in at 12 stone 4lbs.

The author for this diet claims it will help to reduce inflammation and aid digestion and you can lose up to 10lbs in a week. But, you have to consume up to 5lbs of potatoes!

Xand said,

‘I think you’re going to be so hungry you will grow to love potatoes.’

Caroline said,

‘I’m excited. It’s a week. What could go wrong?’

The Life Changers

Sisters Tracey and Karen wanted to shift some weight before a family holiday in 3 month’s time.

Karen said,

‘I think about food from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to bed.’

Tracey said,

‘There’s always something planned and it always centres around food.’

Karen was given the Metabolic Diet to trim down from 14 stone 8lbs. The authors, W Wolcott and T Fahey believe that there are 3 types of people:

  • Protein Type
  • Carb Type
  • Mixed Type

And these three types of people should eat differently:

  • High fat, high protein
  • Low fat, high carb
  • Something in-between

Karen would need to fill in an extensive questionnaire to help decide which type she is and, therefore, which diet to follow.

Tracey, who weighed in at 15 stone 9lbs was given the Genetic Diet.

Author, Steven R Gundry cites Usher as one of his clients and believes our genes have evolved to kill us to ensure our offspring’s survival. Apparently, we can outsmart these ‘killer’ genes by cutting out refined grains and starches and stick with lean meat, fish and leafy type vegetables.

The diet comes with lots of rhyming rules that, frankly, could become incredibly annoying like:

  • If it’s green it will make you lean
  • If it’s artificial fat it’s going to give you a heart attack

Tracey said,

‘I’m really excited. I thought it was going to be dust and ice!’

The Shape Shifters

John and David have a wedding to attend in 6 weeks time and want to be slimmer and trimmer for the event.

John said,

We don’t want to be two fat poofs at a wedding really – it’s embarrassing!’

David wants to be able to get into a kilt that he has and needs to lose about 10 inches to do so.

John weighed in at 16 stone 2lbs and David at 17 stone.

Xand gave David the Convenience Food Diet (Greggs Minimise Me) to follow – allegedly followed by Jake Gyllenhall and Milla Jovovich.

Basically he will eat nothing but Greggs up to 1800 calories a day using the Balanced Choice Menu. It should cost around £8 a day and Xand said,

‘You will probably have to put up with hunger, boredom and the temptation of going into Greggs and thinking, I’ve got to have the salad and what I’d actually like is the pastie!’

John got the Wholefood Diet by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. This diet is grain, sugar and dairy free which has a 30 day food reset followed by food reintroduction. Xand said,

‘The food reset is really strict and if John has any of the foods he shouldn’t in the first 30 days, he goes back to day 1!’

How Did the Dieters Get On?


Charmaine – The Cabbage Soup Diet


  • Make a big batch of soup
  • Enjoy at least 2 cups of soup a day
  • Eat lean meats, fresh fruit and veg


  • Drink alcohol or sugary drinks
  • Follow the diet for longer than 7 days

At the end of day 1 Charmaine felt incredibly tired and wiped out but as the days wore on, she found she had more energy. She did mention having a slight flatulence problem – especially when she was exercising.

Caroline was thoroughly bored with her Potato Diet – not surprisingly really. Here’s the dos and don’ts for it:


  • Eat 2-5lbs potatoes a day
  • Boil, bake or mash them
  • Flavour with herbs, spices and 1 tbsp oil


  • Eat sweet potatoes and yams
  • Do heavy exercise

She struggled at work when everyone else was tucking into their much more interesting lunches and had an issue going to the toilet.

Xand said that it was really low calorie – I don’t agree with that.

I ran 5lbs of boiled new potatoes through our food database and it works out at 1632 calories for the potatoes and 127 calories for the olive oil – that’s not exactly low calorie. It is full of fibre but not a lot of anything else!

And the fact that there is no protein in the diet is probably why heavy exercise is to be avoided.

The Crashers’ Results

Charmaine lost 4lbs and Caroline lost 12lbs. Both girls were very happy with their losses and didn’t really have anything negative to say about the diets.

Life Changers

Karen – The Metabolic Diet

To start with Karen had to fill in a very long questionnaire to discover which ‘metabolic type’ she was. It was 65 questions long and took her an hour! And after all that, she discovered she was a mixed type so her dos and don’ts were:


  • Consume 50% carbs
  • Consume 30% protein
  • Consume 20% fats


  • Drink alcohol
  • Drink tea or coffee

(The dos in this diet look suspiciously like a normal, balanced diet to me.)

Karen found the first few days of her diet quite hard and ended up biting her nails. She really struggled at work. She is a head teacher and the staff room was almost a no go area for her because it was always full of food. Especially at dinner time when the dinner ladies would bring through whole trays of chips. She said,

‘It’s like feeding time at the zoo!’

Tracey – The Genetic Diet

Tracey really struggled with cravings for chocolate and sweet stuff at the beginning of her diet. Even going as far as hunting down some chocolate protein powder so she could make shakes with it.

In week 3, it was her birthday and someone bought her a chocolate cake. She succumbed to the temptation and had some but said that she felt really sick afterwards – as if someone had poisoned her.


  • Eat leafy greens
  • Eat salads and soups
  • Eat certain raw nuts and seeds


  • Eat oats, lentils and quinoa
  • Eat potatoes and white grains
  • Drink fruit and vegetable juice, white wine and beer

The Life Changers’ Results

Karen lost a very respectable 13lbs over the 3 months. Tracey, however, lost almost 2 stone!

Karen said,

‘I would recommend it because it’s not like a diet. I’m not craving my nails anymore and I’m definitely not craving sweet stuff.’

Tracey said she felt like her experience had been a lifestyle change. She said,

‘The demon’s gone and the angel’s in its place and I don’t want the demon back.’

Shape Shifters

David – Convenience Food Diet (Greggs Minimise Me)


  • Eat porridge for breakfast
  • Eat salads, sandwiches and wraps
  • Eat pizza and sausage rolls occasionally


  • Eat any other food
  • Drink alcohol

Although David thought he got the better deal when they were first given their diets, he did find the food was eaten really quickly. And he suffered with a little food envy when John was cooking the food for his diet.

John – The Wholefood Diet


  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat eggs, seafood, meat and vegetables
  • Drink vegetable juices


  • Drink alcohol, tea or coffee
  • Use artificial sweeteners
  • Eat junk food
  • Break the 30 day reset

John seemed to really enjoy his diet with lovely, freshly cooked meals and, although they took longer to prepare than David’s food from Greggs, he said the diet was great.

The Shape Shifters’ Results

The wedding had arrived and David was keen to find out if he fitted into the kilt. They both weighed themselves. John had lost 1 stone 5lbs and David had shed an impressive 2 stone. And yes. The kilt fitted.

John said,

‘Oh my god, I would so recommend this diet!’

David, however, said,

‘It’s been quite painful. I’m glad I stuck it out. If you’ve got that will power then you’ll do it.’

Chew Your Food?

So, as children, we’ve all been told to make sure we chew our food properly right? Well an American doctor believes the secret to weight loss is NOT chewing our food. Or at least filling our tummies with unchewed food to start with does.

Let me explain . . .

Xand spoke to Dr Aaron Springarn about a new habit that Dr Springarn has attributed a 30lb weight loss over a year to.

Basically, before every meal, Dr Springarn eats a can of sweet corn without chewing it – this fills up his stomach so he doesn’t eat as much as he would normally. He said,

‘You have to fill up your stomach with food that basically has no calories which is where swallowing the corn comes in. Because chewing releases the calories inside.’

Xand asked if he had managed to convert any of his family and friends. He said,

‘Oh not at all. Everyone else pretty much thinks I’m crazy!’

Xand decided to give it a try. It took him 22 minutes to eat the corn and before he had finished the tin he felt he couldn’t manage anymore. He said,

‘I suspect anyone trying this will lose patience before they lose weight!’


We’ve all seen the activity trackers and, in fact, in 2017, 3 million were sold in the UK. But there’s a new gadget on the market. This time for tracking your bites! It’s called the ELMM watch, which stands for eat less, move more. Te idea behind it is that the designers believe 100 bites a day is optimal for health and weight loss.

But 100 bites of what a day? As Xand pointed out quite graphically, you could take massive bites of cake, stick to just 100 bites and still put on weight. He went on to say,

‘Let’s be honest, 100 bites of vegetables n comparison to 100 bites of chocolate cake – which would result in less calories?’

Smart Cutlery

How about a fork that vibrates if it thinks you are eating too fast?

The Smart Fork counts how quickly you are taking each mouthful. If you leave less than 20 seconds between bites, it buzzes to let you know you are eating too quickly.

Xand asked a dietitian what she thought. She said,

‘It might be good to help instil mindful eating but if using the fork is the only change you make, it’s unlikely to have an impact on your weight.’

Are Our Eyes Bigger than Our Bellies?

As kids, our parents used to say this to us if we helped ourselves to food and then didn’t eat it. But where they right?

Recent research has suggested there could be a stronger link between vision and appetite than we thought. S study was done where half the people in the study were blindfolded and half weren’t. They then sat down to the same meal. Those that were blindfolded ate 24% less than those that weren’t.

Dr Lawal enlisted the help of 3 cabbies to demonstrate the point.

London cabbies are renowned for the fry ups they enjoy when they’re on a break. The three cabbies showed Dr Lawal what they would normally have for breakfast – a fry up that contained at least 1500 calories a plate.

She then got them to eat the same meal but in the dark.

They really struggled and found they ate quite a lot less than they would normally.

Colour is also believed to effect what we taste too.

Dr Helen Lawal did a test with some wine tasters. She got them to sample two wines – a white and a rosé. They tasted the wines and gave their opinions of the two wines – they got different tastes, spices and aromas from both.

What she didn’t tell the tasters was that the rosé was the same wine as the white with a bit of food colouring in it. But all of the tasters had said the wines tasted and smelt differently.

Well, that’s the rundown of the first episode. I’m looking forward to the next! Here's what we know will be covered:

Episode 2 - From Charcoal to Super Foods

The mind boggles, here's what's in store:

  • The Charcoal Diet - we think they mean some kind of activated charcoal detox regime, but let's see.
  • The Macdonald's Diet - on How to Lose Weight Well? Should be interesting.
  • The Breakfast Diet - not sure if they mean something like the Cereal Diet aka the Special K Diet
  • The Super Food Diet - at least this one sounds healthy!

Presenters, Dr Xand van Tulleken and his team lift the lid on some of the most hyped up diets from this century and the last, explaining how they work and getting real life people to give them a try.

The idea behind the show is to help those who want to lose weight sort through the confusing minefield of diets and weight loss plans.

We brought you the skinny on what was covered in all of the episodes in series 3 last year and we're looking forward to doing the same again this time. Watch this space.

Related Article: The cost of Dieting

How to Lose Weight Well

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