Save Money Lose Weight Presenters Dr Ranj Singh and Sian Williams

Image from itv Press Centre

Save Money Lose Weight New Series (S3)

By Trudi Purdy, wlr team

In this brand new 8-part season of Save Money Lose Weight, Sian Williams and Dr Ranj Singh aim to uncover vital money saving tricks, the best £ for lb diets and help debunk some weight loss myths.

Save Money Lose Weight Episode 8

This was the final episode in the latest season of Save Money Lose Weight and the diet under the spotlight was the revamped SlimFast Vitality Diet. Sian and Linia looked at low calorie alternatives to crisps and Dr Ranj looked at DNA test kits that claim to help you lose weight.

SlimFast Vitality Diet

This diet plan includes one 600 calorie homemade meal each day, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Then you have a protein shake for the two remaining meals. So, one main meal, two shakes and 3 snacks each day. The snacks and shakes need to be the SlimFast versions.

The revitalised formula includes ingredients that are intended to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and reduce fatigue.

The diet should come in at around £300 for the 28 days and the guinea pig this week was care worker Deana. She suffers from severe Type 2 Diabetes and takes insulin to help control it. She weighed in at 14 stone 10lbs and is around 3 stone over her recommended weight for her height.

She loves sugar and used to drink up to 6 cups of tea with 3 sugars in each per day. But the diabetes is threatening her independence. If she doesn’t get it under control, the DVLA could take her driving licence away.

Two weeks in and Deana was struggling with the shakes. She said,

‘I don’t really like them. I don’t think I could do this on a permanent basis.’

She’d also been using Coffee Mate to disguise the sweeteners in her coffee and that contains lots of things that she shouldn’t be having. Despite the Coffee Mate though, her blood sugar levels still dropped and by week 3 she was back on track.

After 28 days on the SlimFast Vitality diet, Deana had lost 4lbs. Deana was disappointed but, on the up side, her blood sugar levels were heading in the right direction. Because Deana’s dependence on insulin, making it more difficult to lose weight, the team felt it was unfair on SlimFast to include it on the leader board. So, these are the final results:


Cost per lb

Lisa Riley’s Honesty Diet


Vegan Keto


Chloe Madeley


Dukan Diet


Scandi Sense


Tom Kerridge




3rd Place – Chloe Madeley

2nd Place – Vegan Keto

1st Place – Lisa Riley’s Honesty Diet

Low Calorie Crisps

Crisps are a definite favourite snack for us Brits with 6 million packets being consumed every year. The nation’s favourite flavour, cheese and onionfirst hit the shelves in the 60s. Lots of brands market healthier alternatives so Sian and dietitian, Linia Patel, decided to put them through their paces. But what makes the original crisp so calorific? Linia said,

‘The potato is actually very nutritious. It’s got some fibre if you eat the skin, it’s low in fat.’

She went on to explain that there are around 10 times more calories, gram for gram, in crisps than there are in potatoes and that is purely down to the way they are cooked. Because the are fried, it adds a whole load of calories. What makes them so irresistible is the fat, and then the salt opens up the taste buds and makes us want more.

There are lots of baked versions on the market that aren’t fried. These are marketed as healthier for us. Sian said that the full-fat fried version tasted more like a crisp to her but, if she saw ‘oven-baked’ on the label, she would assume it was healthier and, therefore, that she could have more. The baked versions are often advertised as 50% less fat so you would assume that would mean 50% less calories. Sounds logical, yes? But that isn’t actually the case. With Walkers Baked for example, they may have cut the fat, but they have doubled the sugar content to make them still taste good. Because of the extra sugar, the difference between normal Walkers crisps and the baked version, there is actually only 6 calories difference.

Sian and Linia then looked at the lighter versions like Quavers. In a bag of normal Walkers Cheese and Onion crisps there are 169 calories, Quavers have just 86. These are made from potato starch. Linia said that the reason there are fewer calories in snacks like Quavers s because there is less in a packet. So, if you can stick to just one packet, it’s worth going for these instead. Oh, and watch out for the packet size for normal crisps! Make sure you don’t pick up the grab bag versions!

Back to the Future

In 2017, Jax weighed in at 18 stone 11lbs and put the Weight Watchers ready meal diet through a 28-day road test.  She struggled without fizzy drinks to start with but by week 4 was getting to grips with it. At the end of the 28 days, Jax had lost 12.5lbs. The diet had cost £263.70 so that works out at £21.10 per lb lost.

She carried on with the diet for another month after the 28-day road test and made her total loss up to a stone. Since then she has lost almost another two stone. She found that following the diet initially taught her some new eating habits as well as the importance of looking at food labels. She Does still get some of the Weight Watcher products that she was eating before, but she mixes and matches with other food.

Is It inYour Genes?

Dr Ranj decided to take a look at DNA test kits that claim to use your DNA to help you lose weight. He was a bit sceptical. The kits claim to work out the best, personalised diet according to your genetic makeup. Dr Ranj decided to talk to a nutritionist. He said that the kits can be used to tailor your diet but that your genes are just part of the puzzle. Lifestyle needs to be considered.

Dr Ranj looked 3 different kits ranging from £59 right up to £399. All 3 involved a simple saliva swab that is then posted and the results, with your tailored diet plan, are posted back to you.

My DNA £59

Recommended a high protein, low fat diet for Dr Ranj

DNA Fit £129

Recommended a Mediterranean style diet, encouraging a high level of healthy fats.

Pure Genetic Lifestyle £399

Recommended a higher carb diet with, roughly, equal parts protein and fat.

To see if he could make sense of the results, her sent them to the Head of Lifestyle Sciences at the Brunel University, Dr Alex Blakemore. She said that the fact that he got 3 different recommendations just proves that the science behind DNA testing for weight loss just isn’t mature enough to make those choices. She did say that the companies aren’t making false claims, it’s just that they each use different bits of the scientific evidence by just looking at a handful of the many thousands of genes. Dr Ranj said,

‘So, it seems these kits don’t have the complete answer yet, but with our growing scientific knowledge, they could be exciting prospects for the future.’

Save Money Lose Weight Episode 7

The diet that was put through the 28-day road test on this episode was the Scandi Sense Diet. Sian was looking for the tastiest and best value diet version of the chocolate biscuit and Dr Ranj investigated products that claim to boost your metabolism.

Scandi Sense Diet

This diet was designed by Danish dietitian Suzy Wengel. Each meal combines four handfuls of food, three times a day – one handful of protein, one of carbs and one or two of veg, plus one of fat. It promises to provide a balanced diet that will make you feel full and lead to a healthier lifestyle. There’s no calorie counting or weighing food out, nothing is banned, and exercise is optional. The team estimated that the diet would cost around £400 for the 28-day road test.

Working mum of five, Jaydean, was the Guinea pig this time, weighing in at 19 stone 6lbs and with a BMI of 43.9. Her relationship with nutrition was definitely on the rocks. She said,

‘I just tend to love food in general and I love takeaway food. It’s easy and accessible, especially as my life is so fast paced at the moment. I can’t just have a little bit of something. If I have it, it’s going to be it all.’

Day 1 and Jaydean’s food delivery had arrived. She picked up a packet of mangetout and had no idea what it was. She said it looked like snap peas. She had some flexibility around ingredients, but she was going to have to follow the recipes the diet plan offered. She seemed quite happy with her breakfast on day one.

Two weeks in and she seemed to be getting on okay. She said,

‘I’m feeling a lot better. My energy levels are up. I’m making better choices and eating better foods which, essentially is giving me a better lifestyle.’

Week three and Jaydean was getting some exercise in with walking and had learnt to adapt some ofthe recipes to her taste. But a few days later, she came off the rails. Her husband and daughter went to McDonald’s and her lunch didn’t seem so appealing to her then.

But then Jaydean found a homemade burger recipe in her book and made those for the family.

At the end of the 28 days she weighed in and had lost 13lbs. The diet had cost her £408. 71. She said,

‘That’s just a little expensive because I spend a little more than that on the whole family.’

It worked out at £31.44 per lb.

She said she didn’t think she would be continuing 100% with the diet, but there were a lot of recipes that she would be using in the future.

The Leader Board so far:


Cost per lb

Lisa Riley’s Honesty Diet


Vegan Keto


Chloe Madeley


Dukan Diet


Scandi Sense


Tom Kerridge





Choccie Biccies

The UK eats more biscuits than anywhere else in the world and it’s the chocolate digestive that regularly tops the polls when it comes to the nation’s favourite. There are lower calorie alternatives but how do they compare on taste, value for money and calorie content?

McVities make Britain’s most popular biscuit and they come in at 9p per biscuit and 83 calories. Dietitian, Linia Patel said,

‘There’s no getting away from the fact that biscuits come loaded with fat and sugar. For example, a chocolate digestive like these has 83 calories in it.’

Sian said,

‘And who stops at one, nobody stops at one!’

‘Exactly. If you had hit your calorie intake for the day and decided to have 2 biscuits a day for a year, that would mean you would gain around 1 stone 4lbs!’

The low cal options they looked at were:

McVities Chocolate Digestive Thins – 5p per biscuit and 31 cals each

Sian said,

‘They’re tiny weeny! They’re really, really thin!’

But she was impressed with the taste but said she would have more than one. These ones were gram for gram the most calorific of the biscuits sampled.

Weight Watchers Chocolate Digestives – 12p per biscuit and 52 cals each

Linia and Sian thought these were crunchier but felt they didn’t taste like a digestive.

Gullón Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Digestive Biscuit – 6p per biscuit and 61 cals each

Sian asked Linia what they were putting in them if there was no sugar. Linia replied that they had a sugar alcohol in them – Maltitol. It tastes like sugar, but it doesn’t affect your blood sugar levels like sugar would.

They both thought that these biscuits didn’t taste as sweet as they though they would. But overall, they weren’t sure about these ones.

The upshot of the taste test for Sian and Linia was that they weren’t sure they would replace the originals with the diet versions – they would just eat less of the original.

Past Guinea Pigs

Three years ago, Steve trialled the 5:2 diet. He weighed in at 17 stone 9lbs with a 45” waist. Steve lost 17lbs in the 28-day road test. The diet cost him £468 which meant it cost him £27 per lb.

Unfortunately, the 5:2 diet wasn’t a long-term solution for Steve. He suffered from some side effects like headaches and lethargy on the two days where he was eating less. He put 6lbs back on. Then he got diagnosed with bowel cancer but, it was caught early. It was the wakeup call he needed and now eats healthily. He doesn’t eat any processed food these days and he exercises a lot more. He grows a lot of his own food on his allotment.

Metabolism Boosters

There is a plethora of products available that claim to help you lose weight and some of those claim to help boost your metabolism. The metabolism is the rate at which the body uses and expends calories. So, boosting your metabolism automatically equals weight loss, right?

But it isn’t that simple. How quickly the body uses calories depends on height, weight, gender, age, lifestyle and genetics. Dr Ranj visited the University of Brighton to speak with senior lecturer Dr Louisa Beal to see if metabolism boosters really do work.

He asked her what we mean when we talk about metabolism. She said,

‘We’re referring to the chemical processes that keep your body functioning.’

To work out of the metabolism boosters that Dr Ranj had found actually work, he had to find out what his BMR (basal metabolic rate) was – how many calories his body would burn in a 24-hour period, just to keep his body alive. His result was that, at rest, he burns 1.2 calories per minute which equates to 1,753 cals a day.

Firstly, Dr Ranj looked at foods that are claimed can boost the metabolism. Food contains chemicals that produce a biological effect and the theory is that what’s in chillies and green tea might not only suppress appetite but can generate body heat so, speeding up the metabolism.

Dietitian, Clare Thornton-Wood said that green tea would help burn a few more calories. But she said you would have to drink about 15 cups a day to make any difference. And, again, with the chillies, to make a difference you would need to eat so many that you would irritate your stomach.

So,boosting your metabolism with foods alone is tricky, but some manufacturers offer a shortcut. Claresaid the products you can buy take the active ingredients from things like green tea and chillies and put them in pill form.

Nutrition Headquarters Fat Metaboliser – 22p per day

Contains green tea extract and caffeine.

Boots Metabolism Support – 67p per day

Contains capsaicinoids which gives chillies their kick.

Grenade Thermo Detonator – £1.85 per day

Contains cayenne pepper, green tea, green coffee and caffeine.

Clare said that these products would only burn an extra 50-100 calories a day, the equivalent to a biscuit!

Next time the SlimFast Vitality diet is road tested, final £ for lb leader board will be revealed and Dr Ranj takes a look at DNA test kits.

Save Money Lose Weight Episode 6

The Vegan Keto diet was up for testing in this episode, along with creams that claim to help you tone or firm up your skin and Sian and Linia investigated whether cereal bars are actually healthy.

The Keto Vegan Diet

This diet combines two popular diet plans – Vegan and Keto. The Keto part is designed to put the body into ketosis where it burns fat for fuel. The Vegan element means eating only plant-based food. Booze and chocolate are banned as there is no sugar allowed. The plan should cost around £280 for 28 days.

Holly was chosen to put the diet through its paces. She weighed in at 19 stone 1lb with a BMI of 44.4 meaning she was more than 8 stone over her recommended weight for her height. She is currently a size 18-20 but she has been a size 6-8 in the past.

Holly said that she eats a lot of carbs and is a bit of an emotional eater. She said her downfalls were portion size and snacking.

Holly read through the possible side effects of the diet and was a little horrified that she may be constipated and may actually wee oil! She will have to regularly test her urine to see if she is in ketosis.

During week 1, she seemed to really enjoy the food but a few days into the diet, the ‘Keto Flu’ hit. It’s the first sign of her body burning fat instead of carbs. And with all the veg she was eating, her poo had turned green.

By week 4, Holly was definitely struggling, although she had kept to the diet She said that being vegan is fine because you can still have your carbs but, the keto side of it was a real struggle. It really restricts what you can eat and has an impact on your social life. You can’t just go out for a meal, healthy or otherwise, with friends.

28 days ago, Holly weighed in at 19 stone 1lb. When she weighed in after road testing the Vegan Keto diet, she had lost 1 stone 6lbs. The diet cost her £281.88 so, that works out at £14.09 per lb.

A good result but she said,

‘You couldn’t pay me to continue with this diet! I just can’t handle any more seeds.’

Cereal Bars for Breakfast?

Sian decided to take a look at cereal bars as alternatives for breakfast. Dietitian Linia Patel said that as a dietitian, she would never recommend cereal bars as a healthy alternative to a healthy breakfast. She said,

‘The reason for that is that they just come loaded with sugar.’

In the average cereal bar, there is 10g of sugar. That’s just over 2 teaspoons!

Sian looked at Asda’s low-calorie cereal bars and compared them to Alpen’s low calorie version.

The Alpen Summer Fruits Low Cal Cereal bar was 70 calories in comparison to 120 cals in the normal Alpen bar. But the low cal bar is physically smaller than the original! They have also reduced the sugar and the fat.

Asda’s Zesty Orange Crush Cereal Snack Bars came in at 72 cals but Sian discovered a lower calorie bar at Asda. Even though they weren’t marketed as a low cal option, their Summer Berry Bar was just 65 cals and they were significantly cheaper. Linia said that this highlights how important it is to read the nutritional info on everything you buy and not just go by the marketing label.

Slap Some Cream on It

There are hundreds of creams on the market that claim to be able to burn fat and tone and firm up your skin. Some are reasonably priced and others extortionate. Dr Ranj decided to investigate if their claims are true and if they are worth your money.

To find out of the creams that claim to burn fat are effective, Dr Ranj visited dermatologist Dr Emma Wedgeworth. She said that basically, it was impossible for a cream to penetrate all the way to the fat layers and have any biological effect on them.

Dr Ranj also looked at the creams for firming, toning and getting rid of cellulite. He asked Dr Emma Wedgeworth if it was possible. She said it was a big question. She said,

‘What we do know from dermatology is that you can boost your collagen function. We know that you can improve the function of collagen with certain types of creams like Vitamin A based creams.’

She went on to say that to have an effect on a large area and the fat layer is really difficult with creams.

Dr Ranj picked two off-the-shelf creams to be tested by volunteers.

Nip+Fab Tummy Fix Cream (£19.99). The tester felt that it did improve the tone and firmness of her skin and she said she would definitely use it before her holiday.

Soap & Glory Sit Tight Super Intense 4D (£14.99). The tester said it smelt like alcohol and wasn’t so impressed with the results. He said his skin was slightly tighter but not a massive improvement.

However, the dermatologist said that the improvements seen in the skin could just down to the fact they were moisturising it more.

Do Diet Fizzy Drinks Make You Fat?

Every day there seems to be a new diet headline – ranging from the sensible to the daft. One of these headlines was that diet fizzy drinks would make you fat. Sian decided to investigate this one.

Sian said that for anyone on a diet, switching from a sugary fizzy drink to a low calorie one seems like a no-brainer. But the recent headline about fizzy drinks making you fat seems to cast doubt on that. According to the stories, drinking diet fizzy drinks triggers the sweet receptors in the brain, making you crave food.

Linia said,

‘Such a controversial area. And the initial school of thought, based on some animal studies, has shown that this could be the case. Animals that were taking in sweetener were wanting to eat more and having a higher calorie intake afterwards.’

She went on to say,

‘What’s interesting is, there has been more research done in humans that actually shows this isn’t the case. So, even if you’re having the diet drinks, you’re still able to lose the weight because you’re saving those calories. So, the jury is still out, and I think that diet drinks can definitely be used to reduce your sugar intake.’

Linia suggested using sparkling water instead and flavouring it with fruit etc.

Next time, the team look at low calorie chocolate biscuits, metabolism boosters and the Scandi Sense Diet is road tested.

Save Money Lose Weight Episode 5

This episode road tested the Dukan Diet, calorie burning clothing and Sian samples low cal sweet treats to see if they’re worth buying.

The Dukan Diet

This diet is split into four phases. Phase 1 is high protein. Phase 2 introduces veg. Phase 3 stabilises the weight lost in the first two phases and phase 4 is a one day a week ongoing commitment to the diet. For the purposes of the road test, Matt will be doing the first 3 phases which will cost around £470 for the 28 days.

Matt weighed in at 19 stone 3lbs with a 54.4-inch waistline. His BMI was 40.9 and he was at serious risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. He said,

‘The thing that I really enjoy doing is spending time with my friends and family, but it always involves food and drink. And because you’re spending time with friends and it’s all nice, you don’t normally limit yourself. It’s all about sweets, cake.’

But after years of giving into temptation, Matt has a new motivation. He has a 2-year-old son. Matt said,

‘When he gets older, I don’t want to be the fat dad at the gates. And if I’m eating unhealthily, I’m going to be spending les time on this planet.’

In the first week of the diet it was all protein with a tiny amount of oat bran to aid digestion and stave off carb cravings.

The second week was the cruise phase, alternating between proteins and vegetables. But prepping meals for the next day was taking its toll on Matt and the 30 minute walk the diet prescribed each day wasn’t doing much to help Matt’s mood.

And, like a lot of offices, there’s quite often cake in the kitchen and Matt found it difficult to resist.

Matt really struggled with swapping his sweet treats with meat. He was feeling really hungry. In week 3 he was starting the consolidation phase. Normally, the program doesn’t allow their road testers to weigh before the end of the 28 days, but it’s an essential part of the diet. Basically, you weigh in, work out how many pounds you’ve lost and times it by 5 to see how many days you do the consolidation phase for. Matt should do it for 60 days.

By day 25 Matt still had a little way to go but his relationship with food had undergone a huge change. He said,

‘I haven’t cheated whatsoever. Even when I’ve been surrounded by food.’

And his friends have noticed that he was starting to have one chin instead of two.

When he weighed in at the end of the 28 days he had lost 1 stone 5lbs.

The diet had cost £487.70 for the month, which works out at £25.67 per lb putting the Dukan Diet at number 3 on the leader board.

Can You Have Your Cake and Eat It?

Cake is the downfall of many a dieter and a British favourite when it comes to sweet treats. The cake market is booming in the UK and is worth £1.6 billion with Lemon Drizzle as the nation’s favourite! Sian wanted to know if you could have your cake and eat it.

With dietitian, Linia Patel, Sian took a look at diet alternatives to cake to see what was in them, whether they are worth the money and what they taste like.

Although Lemon Drizzle is the nation’s fave, there aren’t many options for it in the diet market. But there are loads of low-caloriechoices for chocolate cake.

Diablo Sugar Free Chocolate Cake

This one has 114 cals per portion

It uses two different types of sweeteners to keep the sugar content and the calories down. Sian said it tasted like a very sweet Malt Loaf. Both Sian and Linia said it was a bit dry and would need some custard with – which would kind of defeat the object.

WW Double Chocolate Brownie

This is a chocolate brownie topped with a chocolate mousse. They are 174 cals per portion and cost 75p each (pack of two at £1.50)

This is lower in fat which makes it lower in calories. So, to make it taste the same, more sugar is added. Linia said this is not necessarily a good thing because as a nation, we are eating far too much sugar. Sian said that if you really want a chocolate hit, this would definitely give you that.

Fibre One Chocolate Brownie Fudge Bar

These are 87 calories each.

They are high in fibre but not necessarily a good way of getting extra fibre into your diet because of all the sugar that comes with them. Sian said she liked this one, it had a good cakey texture, but she said it was incredibly light.

Sian said of the three, she would probably go for the WW Double Chocolate Brownie because it is portion controlled.

Calorie Burning with Dr Ranj

Dr Ranj said that as a doctor he always tells patients that the best way to lose weight is with heathier eating and exercise but, could your workout clothes actually help you burn more calories?The UK sports market is predicted to reach £6.7 billion over the next 4 years. So, Dr Ranj visited sports scientist Gary Brickley to find out if the claims are true.

What these items of clothing do is increase temperature while you exercise so, potentially, you’re going to burn a few more calories and you might have a little bit more of an after burn.

To see if the amount of extra calories burned is worth the money, Dr Ranj used Gary’s special kit to take measurements while he exercised in the sweat inducing clothing.

These items of clothing are typically made with waterproof materials and are used by athletes. They are becoming more common-place for every day exercise too.

Dr Ranj ran on the treadmill wearing his normal gym clothes first to get a benchmark for his normal calorie burn when working out. His normal burn was around 11 calories a minute, so for a 30-minute run, he would burn around 330 cals.

Then he testeda sauna suit. Dr Ranj said he felt like he was wearing a corset made of lead. He hadn’t even started running when his temperature had started rising. He said it was definitely harder running in the suit because it’s stiff. Wearing the suit, he was burning around 1 calorie a minute more than when he was wearing his normal workout gear. So, an extra 30 calories for a 30-minute run. He lost around 1.8kg. However, that would have been mainly water.

Dr Ranj said,

‘If I had worn the suit and run for an hour, I would have only burnt an extra 60 calories. In all honesty, I would rather just eat less.’


There are loads of sweeteners on the market that can be used to take the place of sugar. But are they any better for you? Headlines would have you believe they’re not. Aspartame has been linked to cancers, fertility issues etc. Linia said that the headlines are just not true though. After the health scares, people switched to Stevia. Because it’s a leaf, it was assumed that is was more natural. However, to get it into a form that can be used, it still gets processed so, there is no difference between Stevia and Aspartame.

The supermarket own brands are just as good as the branded ones, if they have the right ingredients in them, as they are generally half the price. And, the supermarkets seem to colour match the packets with the branded ones, so it is easy to figure out which one is which.

On the program next week, the Vegan Keto diet gets road tested, Sian takes a look at cereal bars and Dr Ranj investigates whether creams can really help you fight the flab.

Episode 4

This week the diet up for the 28-day road test was the WW (rebranded Weight Watchers) diet. Sian looked at low fat cheese and Dr Ranj looked at calorie counting apps.

The WW Diet

With the WW diet, no food is off limits, but it works on a points system where food is rated on its protein, carb, fat and fibre content. Most fresh fruits and vegetables can be eaten freely. The team estimated that this diet would cost around £500 for the 28-day road test.

Jas was the road tester this week. She weighed in at 15 stone 4lbs meaning that she was 5 stone over the healthy weight range for her height, age etc. Jas moved to the UK from India in 2010 and loves her high carb chapattis and naan. She’s also an emotional eater and overeats when she gets stressed.

In 2012, Jas was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and Liver Fibrosis. She said,

‘My objective and my goal now is that I change my habits now and I change my attitude towards food. I should not live for food, but I should eat food to live.’

During week one, having to prepare her meals on top of the family dinners was difficult for Jas. And was struggling to resist the food the rest of the family were still eating.  By week 2, the novelty of trying new recipes was wearing thin and the reduction in calories was affecting her energy levels.

In week three, Jas was beginning to enjoy trying new foods and getting active. She was using the online version and following the exercise plans suggested.

When she weighed in at the end of the 28 days, she had lost 13lbs. That means the rebranded WW diet had cost her £37.75 per lb.

Are Low Cal Versions the Saviour or the Saint?

Cheese is definitely a favourite in Brit households with 16 and a half kilos being consumed in every household, every year. And the UK’s leading brand is Cathedral City Mature Cheddar. (215 packs sold every minute!) A 35g portion contains 35% fat, 125 calories and costs 30p.

When you’re trying to cut back on calories, cheese is quite often one of the first things to be cut out – it’s high in calories and fat. But, does it need to be? Sian decided to look at the low calorie, low fat versions available to see if they’re worth the money.

Dietitian, Linia Patel said,

‘Cheese is a very high calorie food and the reason for that is that it’s got lots and lots of fat. Now saturated fat is no longer the villain, but the problem is that saturated fat tastes so good, so it’s very hard to stop yourself from overeating it.’

Sian illustrated the point saying that the recommended portion of cheese (30g) wouldn’t be enough for a sandwich. She called it a late-night fridge snack for when no one was looking!

Sian looked at three lower fat versions of cheese per 30g portion:




Cathedral City Lighter Mature Cheddar



WW Reduced Fat Mature Cheese (Grated or sliced)


67 cals

Asda 50% Less Fat Mature Cheese


86 cals

Sian said the Cathedral City Lighter version didn’t have the same fatty taste as the full fat version but still tasted good. The WW cheese didn’t go down quite so well. Sian said it would be an acquired taste for her.

The Asda cheese was the clear winner for both Linia and Sian. They both said they couldn’t taste the difference. It had a richness of flavour and Sian said that would be the one she would go for.

Next, they put the Asda own brand low fat cheese against four others and did a blind taste test.

The cheeses on trial were:

Per 30g portion






82 cals



86 cals



74 cals



82 cals



83 cals

The taste testers decided the winner was Sainsbury’s with Waitrose 2nd, Tesco 3rd. Asda and Morrisons came in joint 4th.

Sian said,

‘Guilt free, tasty cheese. Heaven!’

Back in the Day

Back in 2017, 37-year-old Nick weighed in at 18 stone 2lbs. He was paired with the Lighter Life Diet. This is a complete meal replacement diet and the program Nick tried was a short-term weight loss one rather than a long-term diet.

Nick struggled with eating completely different things to the rest of his family – especially when it came to a trip to McDonald’s!

After 28 days on the diet, Nick had lost 23lbs and weighed in at 16 stone 7lbs. It had cost him £336 which works out at £14 per lb.But how has he done since?

He said the diet had helped him make healthier choices since. But continuing the weight loss has been a struggle for Nick. Two years on he’s gained 6lbs. His weekly shop is now £50 less than it was before the diet. He still uses the shales on and off, but he said the diet was too difficult to maintain and integrate into family life.

Calorie Counting

Dr Ranj said,

‘Whatever diet you choose, it will have calorie counting at the heart of it.’ (Dr Ranj, we love you!)

According to a recent survey by the Office of National Statistics, the average Brit is eating 50% more calories than they realise. Dr Ranj decided to look for a cost-effective way to count calories.

He picked three calorie counting gadgets to test:

Max Kare Scales £23.99

This machine professes to count your calories for you. The idea is that you pop your food on the scales and it will tell you how many calories are in it. You still need to weigh each thing separately. Dr Ranj put a lump of cheese on the scales. Then he needed to find the code for it for the scales to work out the calories. (Would be easier to weigh the food and pop it into your wlr food diary than faff with codes etc!)

Nutribullet Balance £149.99

A calorie counting blender based on the Nutribullet system. It comes with a calorie counting sensor that links to a free app on your phone – great if you want to just eat smoothies! Dr Ranj said it was really fiddly.

My Fitness Pal

This is a calorie counting app. You enter your food and it works out the calories for you. The basic version is free, and the ad free, premium version is £7.99 a month. But there is no online or telephone support and the database quite often lacks the variety of foods available in the UK.

Dr Ranj said all three gadgets worked well for different needs,

‘If we’re serious about tacking the obesity crisis, then understanding calories is fundamental.’

Next time, the team take a look at the Dukan Diet, weight loss wearables and guilt free chocolate treats.

Save Money Lose Weight– Episode 3

This time, snack loving Dev put the Chloe Madeley’s Fat Loss Blitz through its paces, Sian looked at diet friendly breads and Dr Ranj discovered if muscle toning gadgets are worth the money.

28 Road Test – Chloe Madeley’s Fat Loss Blitz

This diet combines exercise to sort all levels of fitness and a healthy meal plan. It does strip out some carbs, replacing them with protein to ‘provide the energy to train effectively’.

Taking on the diet was 36-year-old, civil servant Dev. He loves his snacks and is a big fan of crisps. He’s decided to go with the book’s vegetarian version. This cost him £275 for his 28-day shop. He weighed in at 17 stone 2lbs giving him a concerning BMI of 37.6. He said,

‘I’ve been chubby since childhood. I remember that in my school years one small kid was shouting at me ‘Hey fatty!’. Those kinds of things, obviously, stayed with me.’

But he just can’t resist temptation when he’s sitting down in front of the TV, out come the snacks. And the stress of getting divorced sent his eating into overdrive. Unfortunately, he has been told that he is pre-diabetic, so he definitely needs to do something about his weight. He had joined a gym to help him lose weight and gain confidence.

Dev followed the diet’s sedentary plan, designed for those a little less fit. He said he was looking forward to the exercise to help him take it to the next level. Key to the plan was low to moderate exercise for 40 minutes, 4-6 times a week.

When his food delivery arrived, he was feeling pretty positive and was looking forward to getting started. Preparation with the diet was going to be key. Dev went at this head on and prepped everything the night before.

Half way through the 28 days, Dev was already feeling a little less self-conscious at the gym. He said,

‘Rather than thinking about others, and what they are going to think about me, I just concentrate on burning my calories.’

Dev did struggle on one particular day – work had been very stressful, and he just wanted to eat. But he did manage to keep it under control.

In the final week, it was clear that Dev was outing the work in at the gym – he was going pretty much every day. He said his confidence levels had gone up in comparison to the way he was before he started.

When he weighed in after 28 days, he had lost a total of 1 stone and 3lbs! He said,

‘I’m feeling great. I never thought I would lose this much weight.’

The diet cost £275.38 which works out at £16.20 per lb lost.

Is Diet Bread Worth Your Dough?

We do seem to love our bread in the UK with over 11 million loaves sold daily, so Sian decided to look at diet breads in terms of weight loss and whether they are worth the money.

Dietitian, Linia Patel said that bread had got a bad rap lately because of the drive to eat a lower carb diet. But she said that studies had shown people who have carbohydrates in their diet, including bread, were much more likely to lose weight and keep it off in the long run. The problem is that with white bread, a lot of the fibre has been removed and what you are left with is a very refined carb. This can cause your blood sugar levels to spike up very quickly, and then drop very quickly too. That’s not what someone who is on a diet wants because it means they are going to feel really hungry, quickly.

They took a look at:

Hovis Lower Carb Seeded Loaf – 277 cals per 100g  – 33p (100 cals per slice)

This was in the sample because of the seeds. They contain mono-unsaturated fat, a good type of fat, that increases the calorie count. It will take the body longer to digest because of the fibre in the seeds and the good fats.

Hovis Nimble Wholemeal – 233 cals per 100g – 21p

This is a great option according to Linia because it’s made with wholemeal flour and all the good stuff is still there. It’s also a smaller sized slice.

Lidl Simply Wholemeal – 214 cals per 100g – 4.5p

The whole loaf is 36p for an 800g. Linia said this was also a great option – full sized, wholemeal slices to make a good sandwich with.

Linia and Sian decided to get the taste testers to put the different bread through its paces.

  Cost per loaf Cals per slice
Lidl Wholemeal Loaf 36p 77
Morrisons Wholemeal Loaf 55p 79
Sainsbury’s Wholemeal Loaf 55p 94
Tesco Wholemeal Loaf 59p 93
Asda Wholemeal Loaf 45p 67

The taste tester ranked them like this:

  • Morrison’s – 5th
  • Lidl & Sainsbury’s – Joint 3rd
  • Tesco – 2nd
  • Asda – 1st

Back to 2017

In 2017, Corrine weighed in at 17 stone 7lbs and diabetic. She ate crisps every day and said,

‘I don’t think you can get the same kind of comfort from a salad.’

She was paired with the Military Diet. It strips out most carbs for three days, followed by four less restrictive days each week.

Corrine said,

‘This diet is giving me the push that I need to do more exercise.’

After 28 days, Corrine lost 17lbs and was really pleased that she had lost so much weight. The diet had cost £197.20 which works out at £11.60 per lb.

She did carry on with the diet for a couple of months after the initial 28 days and she did lose some more weight. She said,

‘I enjoyed the experience of the diet. Would I do it again? Probably not.’

She now weighs 16 stone 1lb, so she lost another 3lbs after the diet. She’s ditched the Military Diet and using portion control. She did say that she eats more fresh vegetables and fruit now. Even though her shopping bill is now £15 a week more than before the diet, she is choosing to splash out on better quality produce. She still eats crisps, but she tends to go for the low-fat ones.

Fat Loss Gadgets – Do They Work?

We all know that carrying too much fat around your belly can lead to serious diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes but do muscle toning gadgets that you can use at home really help?

The gadgets Dr Ranj chose were:

Icinger Power Belt (Abdominal Cooling Belt) £29.99 – This product claims to use cold to help you lose the fat by increasing blood flow. It contains a pack that you put in the freezer and then you strap it to your body. While it is true that extreme cold can increase your metabolism, according to the experts, the belt hits such a small area that it really isn’t going to make any difference.

Slendertone £149.99 (Muscle Toning Belt) – This product uses electrical impulses to contract the muscles and has gained popularity over the years. It’s been around a while, in various different forms. The idea is that you can sit down and not consciously move but your muscles are being stimulated. Dr Ranj decided to see what it felt like. He started off slowly and increased the intensity. He described it as ‘squeezy’ on the lower intensity settings. On the higher settings he said it felt like someone was grabbing you and squeezing your muscles really tight. This device targets the muscle so, if you are trying to reduce the layer of body fat over the muscle, you’ll be disappointed with the results. It would need to be used alongside dietary changes and exercise. No surprise there really!

Tripollar Pose (Skin Tightening Device) £325 – This product claims to use radio frequency technology to warm the layers of fat and tighten the skin. The heat should promote collagen synthesis which is needed to help make the skin look plumper and firmer. Dr Ranj tried it and said that he wouldn’t be able to stand the device on the same area for 20 minutes twice a week for 8 weeks – he would rather go to the gym.

Next time...

Weight watchers is going to be the next diet to be put through the 28-day road test. Dr Ranj looks at what is money well spent when it comes to counting calories. And Sian looks at low cal/low fat cheese.

Episode 2 (First aired 16th April 2019)

This week, Sian and Dr Ranj took a look at low calorie ice cream (yum!) and the latest fat measuring scales. The diet under scrutiny was the Lisa Riley’s Honesty Diet.

The Honesty Diet

Lisa Riley lost an incredible 12 stone using her ‘honesty diet’. It promotes fresh food, cuts white carbs, alcohol, caffeine and snacking. Anyone doing the diet keeps an ‘honesty diary’ of everything they eat. Sound familiar?

The diet relies on simple recipes made with fresh, easily accessible ingredients.

The Guinea pig this week was Clare, a surgical matron with a very busy life. She is a serial snacker and weighed in at 18 stone 8lbs.

The shopping for the diet cost her £230. She said,

‘I can spend the next 20 years of my life moaning and groaning about being overweight and it stopping me doing things, or I can do something about it.’

Her life is very busy, and she cooks different meals for her family as they all prefer different things. Because she is cooking different things she is constantly grazing and snacking.

As a surgical matron, she works shifts and so meal times aren’t very regular. She’s always struggled with her weight. But in recent years, she has had to take medication that caused weight gain due to being diagnosed with breast cancer. She is getting married to her long-term partner and wants to look her best as she walks down the aisle.

During the first 8 days of the diet, Clare’s calorie allowance was between 700-800 calories to give her a kickstart. She struggled a little fitting meal prep into her busy week but seemed to manage okay. During the 2nd week, she started adding in a bit of exercise, although her busy work schedule meant that she had to improvise by dancing with her son and jigging around the living room.

Week 3 was a little more difficult for her. She said she felt hungry and was really missing her snacks.

By the end of the 28 days, Clare was finding it easier to get active. She’s been walking a mile every day.

When she weighed in, she had lost 1 stone 6lbs which works out at a cost of £11.78 per lb. Cheaper than Tom Kerridge’s diet and a good result for Clare. She said,

‘This weight loss is just the start of my journey. I’ve got my wedding year so, for me, it’s an ultimate goal to have that day. It gives me the motivation to carry on.’

Ice Cream! Ice Cream!

Ice cream is a definite favourite in the UK with the average person consuming at least 9 litres a year. Sian and dietitian, Linia Patel, decided to look for an alternative that offered all the pleasure but without the guilt.

Sian asked Linia how many calories was in a normal portion (100ml) of ice cream. Linia said, that depending on the flavour a normal portion could be anything from 250 to 400 calories. That could definitely scupper your weight loss plan!

They compared Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream with a version from Halo Top, Breyers and a Ben & Jerry’s lower calorie version.

Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream costs 90p a portion and has 230 calories.

Linia said that reducing calories in food generally means using bulking agents that can affect taste and texture.

The first ice cream tasted was Ben & Jerry’s Low Calorie Chocolate Cookie Dough. It’s 132 calories for 100ml portion and costs 96p a portion.

Sian said this wasn’t very creamy. Linia said that was due to the manufacturers using skimmed milk to lower the amount of fat in it – whole milk is creamier.

Breyers Cookies and Cream came in at 70 calories and £1 per portion. This was a reduced sugar version – the sugar had been reduced by a third. Sian really liked the taste and texture of this one but Linia said it had a bitter aftertaste due to the sweeteners used. Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar.

Next up was Halo Top Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough at £1.06 per portion and 76 calories. Sian said,

‘This tastes aerated to me.’

But she still enjoyed the ice cream. Linia said that this one contained dietary fibre to help bulk it out. When you consume dietary fibre, it doesn’t get digested, it just works its way through and straight out the other end. So maybe eating this one in moderation is still in order!

So, low cal ice cream doesn’t come cheap but does offer a satisfying alternative to a sweet treat.

Looking Back

In 2017, Ashraf weighed in at 17 stone 1lb. He was a big binge eater and enjoyed lots of takeaways. He said,

‘If I reach my ideal weight I’ll feel like superman.’

The diet he was paired with was 5:2 Veggie and Vegan Diet. This combines the regular 5:2 diet while cutting meat, fish and dairy.

Back in 2017, Ashraf lost 15lbs in the 28 days and the diet cost him £246.66. That works out at £16.44 per lb.

Two years on, Ashraf stuck with the 5:2 Veggie and Vegan diet for a while after the first 28 days but then stopped it because he was missing meat. Two years on, he is still making healthier choices and has lost a total of 2 stone 11lbs. His weekly shop now costs him £40, £20 less than it did before the diet.

Body Fat Monitors

When most of talk about losing weight, we actually mean losing fat. We don’t just carry fat under the skin. We also carry fat around our internal organs – visceral fat. Too much of this can cause some serious health issues. A waist measurement of 34” or more in women can be a sign of visceral fat, in men it’s 40” or more.

But how much is too much and how can we measure it?

Dr Ranj decided to take a look at body fat monitors to see how accurate they are and whether they are worth having. A body fat monitor sends a small current through your body when you step on them and the scales use the current to work out your body fat percentage. Current travels more slowly through fat and bone than it does through muscle and water.

To work out if the body fat scales were value for money, Dr Ranj needed to know his actual body fat percentage, so he could compare the results. He visited Dr Gary Brickley and entered the Bod Pod. This space age capsule is a pressurised cubicle that measures your body volume and calculates your body composition. It’s the gold standard for measuring body fat, used by athletes.

Dr Ranj’s body fat percentage was 25.7%, at least 3.7% more than it should be.

The three scales that were out to the test were the One by One Bathroom Scale Digital, The Omron Body Composition Monitor and the Tanita Body Composition Monitor. Here’s the results:




One by One Bathroom Scale Digital


Out by 0.1%

Omron Body Composition Monitor


Out by 1.2%

Tanita Body Composition Monitor


Out by 0.5%

So, the cheapest of the bunch was the most accurate. Just goes to show that you don’t have to spend a fortune on all the bells and whistles to get the most accurate reading.

Next time Chloe Madeley’s Fat Loss Blitz diet is road tested, Sian takes a look at diet bread and Dr Ranj trials home gadgets designed to help you tone up and fight the flab.

Episode 1 (First aired 9th April 2019)

In this week's episode:

Guinea Pig #1

Steve, 49 was the first guinea pig. He’s an accountant from Wales and weighed in at 15 stone 13lbs.

Tom Kerridge’s diet is a lower carb plan – no white pasta, bread and rice. But it does come with a bit of a hefty price tag when it comes to the food shopping with it. All the lean meat, fish and fresh veg meant Steve’s food bill was a little higher than normal.

The shopping bill came to £503.22 for 28 days’ worth of food – more than twice the average family spend and a whopping £17.97 per day!

Tom has created a cookbook to go alongside his plan that has 100 low calorie recipes that are high in taste. We covered his Lose Weight for Good TV program last year.

Steve was looking forward to getting rid of his belly but was a little apprehensive about giving up alcohol and takeaways at the weekends. He said:

‘My life revolves around football. Football and drinking go hand in hand. On a Saturday it’s a case of as many beers as we can really. I just eat and drink rubbish all weekend.’

When he had his food delivered from the supermarket, the delivery driver said he thought he had the wrong house because there was no beer or snacks in the delivery!

Tom’s recipes are meant to be low in calorie without compromising on taste and Steve seemed to be enjoying getting stuck in with the cooking. He didn’t seem to struggle with the foods he was eating or the fact that he was only drinking water or squash.

Steve’s calorie intake was set at 2000-2100 per day.

Week two soon came round and Steve said he was enjoying the cooking. He said:

‘Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to do most of the recipes in the book before too long.’

Halfway through the 28 days and Steve was definitely enjoying the confidence boost he was getting from shedding some weight. He was getting more active on the football pitch with his son.

Steve’s wife said:

‘We’ve been together 16 years and he’s never done any exercise!’

At the end of the 28 days, Steve had lost 1 stone 1lb and now weighed in at 14 stone 12lbs. So, £ for lb that's £33.55 per lb lost.

He seemed pretty happy with his loss and said he was going to continue with the plan.


Sian, and dietitian Linia Patel, took a look at the low cal/low fat sausages available. They were looking for the tastiest, lowest calorie sausage options that didn’t break the bank.

Sausages are a firm favourite in the UK with 280 million packs sold every year. But each pack contains a whopping 80g of fat! Sausages are also generally high calorie and high sodium so, not the healthiest option for tea.

Richmond sausages are the best sellers in the UK but, just 2 sausages are 264 calories. Sian decided to see what the supermarkets had to offer.

Here are the results:

Sausage Cost per portion (2 sausages) Cals per portion (2 sausages)
Richmond Original Sausages 50p 264
Richmond Reduced Salt and Fat 42p 156
Morrison’s Butcher’s Recipe Reduced Fat Pork Sausages 41p 208
Heck Chicken Italia Sausages 64p 99


So, Heck’s chicken sausages are the best option for calories but not necessarily for the pocket. Sian said that she thought fat was no longer considered to be a bad thing but Linia pointed out:

‘Fat is not a bad thing. It’s all about making sure you’re eating the recommended daily amount.’

Sian and Linia decided to enrol some volunteers for a taste test across the supermarket own brands reduced fat/calorie sausages. Here’s what happened:

Brand Cost Cals
Asda 36p 145
Sainsbury’s BGTY 41p 149
Morrison’s 41p 156
Richmond 42p 156
Tesco 42p 162


The tasters ranked the sausages like this:

  • Joint 4th place to Morrison’s and Richmond
  • 3rd place to Tesco
  • 2nd place to Asda
  • 1st place to Sainsbury’s

So, if you want some sausages on your plate but want to cut back on the calories, Sainsbury’s BGTY sausages are the way forward.

Previous Guinea Pig

The program then looked at a previous guinea pig to see how she had fared after the program.

Wendy was 17 stone 7lbs in 2017 when the program asked her to trial the G Plan Diet. During her 28 days, she lost 2 stone. It cost her £312.91 for her food shopping which works out at £11.18 per pound lost. Back in 2017, she said:

‘It’s that good, I’m actually going to carry on.’

2 years on, she has kept it up – more or less. She said a few bad habits had crept in, but she now weighs 12 stone 7lbs and is a size 14 instead of a size 22.

Her shopping bill is now about £50 a week which is £30 less than she used to spend before the she appeared on the show.

A win win there then?


Whether we binge, comfort eat or just give in to cravings, it’s our appetites that can derail our best efforts to trim down.

Dr Ranj decided to look at the range of products that claim to suppress our appetites and help us lose weight. He met up with dietitian and weight loss management expert, Clare Thornton-Wood. She explained the difference between hunger and appetite:

‘There’s hunger and then there’s appetite. We have a hunger to ensure we get fed. And appetite is driven by the things we might want to eat. We might walk past a bakery and think oooh I’m hungry. We’re not really hungry. We just have an appetite for a cream bun.’

The appetite suppressants Dr Ranj and Clare looked at were:

  • Boom Bod
  • Protein World Hunger Capsules
  • XLS-Medical Specialist Appetite Reducer

Basically, all of these products contain soluble fibre that takes up space in your stomach and help to make you feel full, even if you’re not. But they are not cheap. Boom Bod would cost a whopping £4.28 a day and XLS-Medical would be £2. The Protein World Hunger Capsules’ price tag was a little easier to swallow at 99p.

As Dr Ranj pointed out, these appetite suppressants were an expensive way to get soluble fibre into our bodies and asked Clare if there were cheaper alternatives using real food. She suggested prunes, oats, apricots, lentils and pearl barley and other high fibre foods. She said:

‘All of these have not only got soluble fibre in them, but they also have other benefits like protein, vitamins and minerals. And they are cheap.’

Dr Ranj did point out that they would have more calories than the appetite suppressants, but I know which I would prefer to eat!

And he also highlighted that appetite suppressants are not meant to be a long-term solution but filling yourself up with actual food was much more sustainable, you can see an example 7-day high fibre food plan here.

Next time . . .

  • Lisa Riley’s Honesty Diet comes under the spotlight (we love Lisa, she even mentions us in her book!)
  • Sian goes on the hunt for the best tasting, low calorie ice cream.
  • And Dr Ranj tries out the latest fat measuring scales.

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