Whether it’s your New Year’s resolution or just a simple decision to start taking care of your body, losing weight is never a poor lifestyle choice. The issue though is that there are so many ‘fad’ diets out there that are not sustainable, not to mention unhealthy. Take the 13-day diet for example; this diet is also known as the Copenhagen Diet, and according to The Sun, this program claims that you can lose 20+ pounds in just 13 days.
If you are unfamiliar with this diet; the 13-day diet is an extremely short-term and strict diet that relies on the individual consuming under 1,000 calories a day, which is an extremely lower than the recommended calorie consumption for adult men and women. According to the National Health Service, the average man requires around 2,500 calories in order to maintain his healthy weight, within a balanced healthy diet. For women, that number is slightly less (2,000). Granted, the number of calories you need to consume will depend on your size and age.
Now that you have the basic background information about the 13-day diet, let’s talk about why this diet plan is not only unhealthy but unsafe. Sarah Flower, who is a renowned nutritionist, told the Sun Online that this diet is “A far cry from healthy.” She mentions that weight loss is more than just losing pounds; it’s about your body being healthy. She adds that when you do a diet like this and then go back to eating normally, the lost weight will be regained.
Nutritionist and biochemist Dr. Ingrid V. Van Heerden, a contributor to the Health24website, explains that this diet is unsafe and unhealthy because of the low-calorie intake and because it is an unbalanced diet. Dr. Van Heerden states that people who are drastically reducing their calorie intake per day will feel weak, hungry, tired and can be receptive to illness. Dr. Van Heerden adds that because this diet cuts out certain food groups, people may suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Not to mention that because this diet is lacking fruits, dairy, and whole grains, people may also experience kidney problems.
According to the Weight-Control Information Network, an information service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a low-calorie diet such as the 13-day diet should only be administered by your physician. In comparison, your physician would use commercially prepared formulas which would include the necessary micronutrients to ensure that there is no lack of nutritional requirements.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Dr. Susan S. Percival, a professor at the University of Florida who specializes in Food Science and Human Nutrition. The first thing she said when I mentioned the 13-day diet was: “That’s three pounds a day. I think the diet has broken the laws of physics.” Dr. Percival is correct when she mentions the amount of weight a person has to lose per day in order for this diet to be successful.
But rather than using the 13-day diet plan, why not choose a healthier, realistic plan? Dr. Van Heerden suggests aiming for weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week which will include 45 to 60 minutes of physical activity per day along with a balanced diet if fruits and vegetables and reduced consumption of sweetened drinks.