The No Crave Diet by Dr Penny Kendall-Reed and Dr Stephen Reed
Reviewed by Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
"Doesn't claim to be a low-carb diet"
What’s the theory?
Written by a naturopathic doctor and orthopaedic surgeon, this book is based on the idea that food cravings are the reason we cheat on diets – in fact the authors say around 80 percent of diets fail because people give in to their cravings. They say there are many factors that lead to cravings, including low blood sugar levels, our perception of food as a reward, eating certain foods that induce cravings (particularly those high in fat and sugar), stress, emotions and snacking itself.
The diet effectively works to stabilise blood sugar levels. This is important because the hunger centre in the brain responds to falling blood sugar levels by encouraging us to eat, particularly sweet carbs to boost sugar levels back to normal.
The other key element is to avoid snacking completely because as well as causing frequent swings in blood sugar it prevents the anti-hunger hormone leptin from doing its job effectively.
As a result, this diet effectively limits carbs and avoids all snacking. Once we have corrected our brain hormone and metabolic balance we will have tamed the messengers in the brain that promote cravings, allowing us to reintroduce carbs.
What does the diet involve?
The diet has many similarities to the Atkins diet, although it’s less extreme. There are two phases.
Phase 1 is the weight-loss phase and should be followed for eight weeks if you are 15lb or more overweight or four to six weeks if you are 10-12lb overweight.
This phase includes three meals a day with no snacks, and recommends leaving five to six hours between each meal. Protein should be eaten at every meal. Salad, veg, dairy and two portions of fruit are allowed each day but the diet bans all other carbohydrates including grains, rice, bread, cereals, potatoes, pasta and processed carbs. How much protein you should have at each meal depends on your weight. For every kilogram you weigh, you should have 1g protein. So, if you weigh 75kg that equals 75g protein a day or 25g at each meal – alternatively the plan explains how to gauge the amount of protein you should have using size of your hand. There are recipes given for each of the meal suggestions.
Phase 2 is the maintenance phase where you start to reintroduce carbs, starting with fruit, followed by wholegrain bread and cereals, then pasta, rice, potatoes and finally sweets.
How much weight will I lose?
You can expect to lose around 18lb to 22lb in eight weeks.
What can I eat in a typical day?
A berry shake made from soy or skimmed milk, fresh berries, banana, natural yogurt, whey powder and flaxseeds. Plus 175ml skimmed milk and decaff coffee or herbal tea.
Chicken and veg salad with lemon-lime sauce made from cooked broccoli, cauliflower, mange tout and courgettes, spring greens, tomatoes chicken breast and sesame seeds. Plus 175ml vegetable or tomato juice and decaff coffee or herbal tea.
Grilled salmon with mange tout. Plus 175ml glass skimmed milk, 175ml glass red wine and decaff coffee or herbal tea.
What else does the book include?
There are tips for removing temptation, staying positive, keeping a journal, getting a diet buddy, getting enough sleep, emergency measures to beat cravings and monitoring your weight. There’s also a section on exercise, including a home workout. Plus, you’ll find advice on how to cope and deal with stress. Finally, there’s a guide to supplements.
Although it doesn’t claim to be a low-carb diet, this is exactly what it is.
The only carbs allowed during phase 1 are veg, two pieces of fruit and small amounts of milk. As a result, this diet is short on wholegrains (important for heart health) and potentially low on a number of vitamins and minerals. Ultimately, any weight loss achieved from following this diet will be due to its restricted calorie intake.
I’m not convinced that such a restrictive diet will beat cravings – if anything it’s more likely to make most of us want to eat the biggest bar of chocolate we can find.
The book is muddled and feels like it’s been compiled by dipping into lots of other different diet books and picking out selected highlights. Unless you’re a fan of low carb dieting, it’s probably best to leave this one on the shelf.
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See all the Diet Reviews in this series