Tony Ferguson Diet Review
Reviewed by Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
The latest diet to reach the UK involves swapping meals for soups and shakes. But what makes the Tony Ferguson Diet different from other meal replacement plans and is it safe? Dietitian Juliette Kellow investigates…
They’ve helped us fall in love with Neighbours, Kylie and barbecuing. Now, the latest export from ‘Down Under’ to reach UK shores is a diet plan that’s already helped 600,000 Australians shift their excess pounds.
The Tony Ferguson Diet (devised by two Australian pharmacists) promises a ‘simple, affordable and flexible diet that’s based on sound nutritional science and the latest thinking on food psychology’. It is currently only available from high street store Boots, but will it really help you get a Bondi beach body?
What does The Tony Ferguson Diet involve?
The diet is effectively a meal replacement plan that involves swapping two of your regular meals each day with a shake, soup or bar. Tony Ferguson also allows one ‘normal’ meal each day, which combines a protein-rich food with smaller portions of low glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates.
Good intakes of low GI fruits and vegetables are also allowed throughout the day. This reduces calories to around 1,200-1,400 calories daily. There’s also a plan to help you maintain your new weight once those extra pounds have been lost.
Plus, when you sign up to the Tony Ferguson Diet, you receive lifetime membership to the programme, a comprehensive guide outlining the plan, and have access to a Boots Healthcare Advisor and a 24-hour phone hotline with a Tony Ferguson Advisor.
So what’s the theory?
The theory behind the Tony Ferguson diet is based on scientific fact. It works on the universally agreed principle that in order to lose weight you need to take in fewer calories than you use up. The way the diet achieves this calorie reduction is also based on well-established research.
Studies have shown that meal replacement products can be useful in helping people to lose weight, particularly when they are used in conjunction with support from a healthcare professional –which is exactly what the Tony Ferguson diet advocates.
Reducing (but not avoiding) carbs encourages the body to burn fat. Also, choosing those with a low glycaemic index (GI) is proven to help maintain blood sugar levels - which helps to keep you fuller for longer.
Plus, it’s widely accepted that good intakes of protein help to satisfy hunger, especially when combined with plenty of fibre, and most nutrition experts agree that support when dieting can aid success.
How do I follow the Tony Ferguson diet?
The plan has phases:
- A weight loss phase to get you started on your journey and achieve your weight loss goals.
- A transition period to get you ready for maintaining your new weight and eating normally.
- A freedom phase to guide you through eating normal meals and ongoing weight management.
How much does it cost and what do I get for my money?
The Tony Ferguson diet costs £15 to join. In addition you have to buy the Tony Ferguson meal replacement products. Diet shakes and soups cost £1.99 each, whilst the bars cost £2.29 each. Treats such as jelly or dessert mixes cost 79p each.
Overall, a soup, shake and jelly costs:
The joining fee includes a guide giving you info on…
- the different phases
- foods to avoid and choose
- a monthly menu plan
- cooking tips
- eating out advice
- tips to keep the weight off
- understanding food labels
- space to keep a food diary
- charts for recording weightloss and inch loss measurements.
You’ll also get access to a trained Boots Healthcare Advisor who will offer guidance and weigh you once a week in Boots stores.
You get access to a 24 hour, 7 days a week phone hotline with a Tony Ferguson Diet Advisor. This service if free from a BT landline but a fee may be charged for other networks or mobile services. The advisors include dietitians, nutritionists and pharmacists and you can ask them anything.
Lifetime membership to the Tony Ferguson Diet (for the £15 joining fee) also includes access to the member’s website, which has recipes, forums and features.
The website www.tonyferguson.co.uk provides details of the plan plus a selection of recipes, which you can access without being a member.
How do I join Tony Ferguson?
You can either join by signing up in any Boots store or via the Boots website www.boots.com.
You enter your height and weight , answer a few questions about your health and diet and then you’re good to go.
How much weight can I expect to lose?
The Tony Ferguson diet doesn’t promote a specific weight loss but with a plan that provides 1,200-1,400 calories a day, you can expect to lose around 2lb a week and a little more when you first start. Indeed some people in the forums report weight losses of 8lb in the first week.
Does the diet have any side effects?
Are there any other bad points?
The key problem for meal replacement plans is their palatability. Taste fatigue and boredom can quickly set in, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose.
The idea of drinking rather than eating may also leave you feeling unsatisfied, even though the plan is designed to help keep you full.
All of these things could leave you craving different tastes and textures, with the result that you end up ditching the Tony Ferguson diet. Like all meal replacement plans, this diet can also be expensive, although you do need to weigh up how much money you’d save on your weekly shop.
Any pros to the diet?
Swapping two meals for Tony Ferguson’s shakes, soups or bars each day takes the guesswork out of controlling portions and estimating calories, plus it’s relatively easy to do.
The products are all fortified with nutrients making it easier to meet your requirements for vitamins and minerals.
Plus, this plan encourages you to:
- ditch the junk from your diet
- eat five portions of fruit and veg a day
- drink more water
- get to grips with portion sizes
- focus on how many treats you have
This is certainly an interesting concept. The Tony Ferguson diet effectively borrows nuggets from many other popular slimming resources and combines them into one new plan.
- traditional calorie-reduced diets
- high-protein diets
- low GI plans
- meal replacement product
- support from online diet clubs
- weekly weigh-ins from slimming clubs
- monitoring with a healthcare professional
The theory behind each ‘nugget’ used tends to be backed up with science which is good to see, although ultimately, this is a meal replacement plan.
Research confirms there’s definitely a role for meal replacement products in aiding weight loss, but one of the main downsides of this type of diet is keeping the weight off. Many people find that once they return to eating normally, the weight piles back on again.
Studies show that support (especially from a health professional) can help people to maintain their new weight. This is one of the main things that makes the Tony Ferguson diet stand out from other over-the-counter meal replacement plans.
You have the opportunity for telephone support and one-to-one weekly weigh ins. Plus, there is just as much emphasis placed on what to do after you’ve lost the weight as there is on the diet itself.
Carb lovers are likely to struggle with this plan though. The restriction is certainly nowhere near as strict as other low-carb diets – carb intakes are around 90-150g a day compared to the more usual 250-350g – but bread, potatoes, pasta, rice and cereals are still off limits in the weight loss phase.
The monotony of frequently drinking Tony Ferguson soups and shakes is also likely to kick in quickly, especially as many people start to struggle with their palatability after a while.
You could of course create your own DIY meal replacement plan by making 200-calorie servings of homemade milk shakes or soups (which would undoubtedly taste better), together with a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement.
Alternatively, you could simply stick to two daily meals that each contain 200 calories. Opt for low GI carbs and protein such as scrambled eggs with grilled mushrooms and tomatoes for breakfast, or a tuna salad for lunch. Then just follow Tony Ferguson’s diet rules for the rest of your day’s intake!
Despite the hunger-beating combination of low GI and high protein together with 24-7 support if you need it, I’m still not convinced this diet will stop you craving cheesecake, chardonnay and crisps.
You might not feel physically hungry, but emotionally, chances are you really will want to sink your teeth into something solid (other than meat, chicken, fruit or veg) after a while.
As always, it’s a reduction in calories that will shift those pounds. The Tony Ferguson diet is yet another way to do this and might suit you if you want to give your diet a kick start. But ultimately, it’s just as easy – and more tasty – to follow a 1,200-1,400 calorie diet based on foods from the four main food groups and opting for low GI carbs where possible.
If you’d like to devise your own diet plan (or use one of ours) why not take a 24hr free trial…
You’ll get full access to the UK’s largest online calorie and nutrition database, extensive recipes and plans databases, and you can calorie count your own recipes and plans.
To find out more about the Tony Ferguson Diet visit www.tonyferguson.co.uk.