Weight loss techniques and diets vary from the simple to the complex.
Some of them are clearly diet fads right from the very beginning and are completely unrealistic.
Yet, there are other options that are less clear. One of those is the Cambridge diet.
There have even been various Cambridge diet reviews online that talk about just how wonderful the diet actually is and how it can be effective.
Yet, testimonials about diets aren’t always that useful. Regardless of the diet that you’re considering, there will always be some people who have had amazing success. That success alone doesn’t make the diet a good idea.
Instead, it’s worth taking a look at what the diet involves and whether it makes sense scientifically. Otherwise, you just end up with a diet like the 3 Day Military Diet which is horrible nutritionally and isn’t likely to promote long-term weight loss.
What is the Cambridge Diet?
With that in mind, let’s start from the beginning. Instead of talking about Cambridge diet reviews, we’re going to take a look at how the diet actually works.
Basically, the Cambridge diet is a product-based program. The official version is now called the Cambridge Weight Plan, although most people still call it the Cambridge diet. As the name suggests, the diet has a connection to Cambridge University and was initially designed by a professor there as a weight loss method.
However, there have been changes to the diet over time.
The Cambridge diet itself involves a number of different programs, which have different restrictions on what you can eat and your calorie intake.
In particular, there are 6 stages to progress through and different plans vary in what steps people start at and which tools they have access to.
The Cambridge diet is a product-based plan that offers multiple programs and stages
The Plan and Consultants
The Cambridge diet is also consultant-based, which does complicate it somewhat. For the most part, this means that you cannot buy the products in a store or even access the plan itself directly.
Instead, you have to rely on consultants for the company. They are supposed to guide members in the right diet for them and help them act as an avenue to buy the food.
Now, you can find some of the items on Amazon, even though distributors aren’t really supposed to be selling on there. However, there are almost no Cambridge diet reviews on Amazon, suggesting that few people buy the products this way.
That’s no surprise really. The products are a key part of the diet but they’re not the main aspect. In particular, you would need the diet plan to be able to follow it and you would really have to go through a consultant to get an accurate plan.
Stages of the Diet
Essentially, the diet is broken down into six main stages. The idea is that you start at an earlier stage if you have more weight to lose. The early stages are more intense and the process becomes easier as you go along.
Now, the information about these stages is somewhat limited online, as members are supposed to be talking with consultants. But, from the site itself and from other Cambridge diet reviews, I can give you the basics about what is involved.
Stage 1: Sole Source (415-615 calories/day)
This stage involves eating or drinking 3-4 products from the Cambridge diet range per day. There is also a Sole Source Plus variation, where you have 3 products and a 200-calorie meal or 4 products and 200 ml (around 7 fl oz) of skim milk.
The idea is to follow this stage for up to 12 weeks.
Stage 2 (810 calories/day)
This stage relies on 3 products again but also adds in some high protein foods, along with vegetables and skim milk.
Stage 3 (1,000 calories/day)
The pattern continues here, with this diet stage decreasing the products to 2 and increasing the calorie allowance to 1,000 calories.
It isn’t clear how many calories you get per day with step 4 but the overall pattern is similar. Once again, there are 2 diet products, along with lunch and dinner, both of which are calorie controlled.
The key aspect of this step is that it starts to involve more conventional food and a greater focus on making meals.
Stage 5 (1,500 calories/day)
With this stage, participants are only consuming one product and making the rest of the meals themselves. In theory, recipe suggestions are supposed to come from consultants.
Stage 6 (maintenance)
With this final stage, the idea is basically to maintain weight loss by focusing on a healthy diet. You’re still consuming a diet product per day but most of the food is prepared by you.
The diet is broken down into 6 key stages, which get progressively easier as you move from one to the next
What You Can Expect
If you were to start at the beginning, then the Cambridge diet is essentially a very low calorie diet.
In the early stages, you rely heavily on diet products from the company. In fact, that pattern is common across most very low calorie diets – partly because it is difficult to get your calories low enough any other way.
Now, the products do help to take the guesswork out of your meals. At the same time, many of them will contain additional nutrients, to help make up for what you’re missing in your diet.
Additionally, those early stages don’t involve much solid food at all. Instead, you’re mostly relying on protein shakes and similar options.
In fairness, that practice really can help promote weight loss – but it is also exceptionally challenging to actually follow.
As you progress through the stages, your eating patterns become increasingly normal.
In particular, the plan gradually increases the amount of calories per day while decreasing the number of diet products that you’re consuming.
This does mean that the diet gets easier over time and you are supposed to be learning healthy eating practices at the same time. The balance of nutrients does also mean that the diet promotes a mild form of ketosis and also provides enough protein to prevent the loss of lean muscle.
The Cambridge diet begins as a very low calorie diet, relying heavily on products. As members progress through the stages, eating patterns become more normal and the calories per day increase
Does the Cambridge Diet Work?
At the most basic level, yes, this diet would work. You are basically restricting your calorie intake, so the potential for weight loss is there. Not surprisingly, there is also a range of glowing Cambridge diet reviews and success stories from members:
In fact, members see enough success that the diet still continues to make headlines, even into 2018. For example, The Sun published an article in January 2018 highlighting the long-term risks of the diet. They suggested that people shouldn't follow it for more than 12 continuous weeks.
The approach was also featured in the NHS Choices 2017 diet reviews as one of the top 10 most popular diet. The authors highlighted some advantages but concluded that the idea was unsustainable.
Similar conclusions have been found elsewhere as well. But, whether or not the diet works for you really depends on who you are and what you need.
For example, if you don’t have a lot of weight to lose, you’d start on the later steps of the program. Most of those steps tend to focus on healthy eating and counting calorie intake. Those practices are things that many people already know how to do.
Honestly, the program isn’t much help if you only have a little weight to lose.
Instead, most of the program’s power is connected to those who are significantly overweight. In theory, the various steps could help to guide a person into healthier eating patterns – teaching them ways to live and to eat effectively.
However, the effectiveness of this is somewhat debatable.
In particular, the first few steps of the diet are also the most intense and the first one has you eating no more than 615 calories per day. There is a reason many people say the diet is unsafe if followed for more than 12 weeks at a time.
Starting out like that if you have a lot of weight to lose isn’t necessarily a good idea. In some ways, this is similar to the idea of Biggest Loser, where you are forcing your body to lose a lot of weight very quickly. Yet, like the Biggest Loser, the approach often doesn’t work, especially not in the long-term.
Diets are fairly hard to follow at the best of times. In fact, this is why so many people struggle with them and don’t manage to lose much (or any) weight. An extremely intense diet is just going to be more difficult. This is particularly true if your eating patterns weren’t great beforehand.
Now, in theory, you can lose weight fast and keep it off (1). Indeed, very low calorie diets sometimes used for severely obese patients as a way of bringing their weight down to a healthier level (2).
However, this type of diet tends to be used on a case-by-case basis. Realistically, you would want to be in constant communication with a healthcare provider and ensure that your responses to the diet are monitored (3,4).
After all, the amount of calories you’re consuming is very low and the impacts of this can be significant and even potentially dangerous (5).
As such, simply relying on a consultant for the company isn’t a safe plan for weight loss.
Additionally, most people find this type of diet extremely difficult to follow. Even with the various products, you do still end up hungry a lot of the time and you have to cut out basically every food that you enjoy.
That’s rough at the best of times.
There are certainly situations where this type of approach is appealing and even needed. But again, if you’re in that situation, you should be talking to a healthcare professional, not a Cambridge diet consultant.
The Cambridge diet works, in theory, primarily for those with a lot of weight to lose. However, the heavily restricted nature of the diet means that most would struggle to successfully follow it
The Rest of the Diet
The very low calorie component of the diet is only really suitable for some people and, even then, only with medical supervision. But, what about the rest of it?
Well, on paper the diet would work. After all, you are cutting down calories and the diet does increasingly focus on healthy eating. All of this is good but the practices are also things that you could follow on your own.
For example, one of the key products in the system is meal replacement shakes.
This type of shake can be a good way to decrease calories, particularly if you replace one meal with a shake. Nevertheless, you certainly don’t have to rely on the products from the Cambridge diet to achieve that outcome.
Additionally, the Cambridge diet does heavily rely on counting calories. That practice works well for some people and not for others. Having to constantly count calories and monitor everything you eat can get tiring and frustrating fast.
The remainder of the diet isn't really that unusual and you could get similar outcomes from other approaches
Dieting, Lifestyle and Successful Weight Loss
In many ways, our society is obsessed with the idea of dieting. On this blog alone, I’ve written a range of different diet reviews and I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the different options out there.
People often end up searching for a specific diet that is going to solve all of their problems. For some, the Cambridge diet might seem like an answer, particularly if they’ve heard good Cambridge diet reviews.
In fact, the Cambridge diet even has some advantages, because it does teach some healthy techniques. Additionally, if you progress all the way through it, the diet is designed to help you maintain weight loss as well.
But, in reality, dieting isn’t a good solution for most situations.
Now, if you are extremely overweight and need to lose weight fast to protect your health – a diet may be relevant. However, if that’s the case, you need to be talking to a medical professional anyway.
For most of the population, diets tend to be ineffective.
In some cases, they may promote weight loss but much of the time people end up gaining back any weight that they did lose.
For that matter, the real challenge that most people face isn’t weight loss itself anyway. Instead, the challenge is being able to lose weight and keep it off.
To achieve that successfully, you really need a lifestyle, not a diet.
By this, I mean a pattern of healthy behavior that you can consistently follow from one year to the next. Doing so helps to break the pattern of dieting, partly because you’re not stopping and starting.
This may sound unappealing because a lifestyle tends to result in slower weight loss than a diet. But, it is worth it if you can keep the weight off. Additionally, it is possible to follow a more intense diet for a short period to drop some weight, provided that you go back to a healthy lifestyle after.
But, how do you find a good lifestyle? After all, diets are popular because people tend to gain weight with their normal lifestyle.
The basic idea is to simply consume fewer calories than you use and there are different ways of achieving this. For example, some people simply focus on healthy food, ignoring options that are high in sugar, along with processed food.
For others, following a more specific strategy works better.
A low carb diet is one example of this (particularly the ketosis version). Even though this is called a diet, it can be a lifestyle as well and it involves a shift in your eating patterns to decrease the carbs you’re consuming and increase other food groups.
Many people follow this approach and there is considerable support out there for it. For example, the site Essential Keto offers guides and advice about ketosis, while Keto Summit has many different recipes to choose from.
This type of lifestyle focuses on changing when you eat, rather than what you eat. It can be powerful, as it offers a simple way to cut down calories.
More than anything, it’s important to take a serious look at what works for you.
For example, some people find that they need to pay more attention to the connection between their emotions and food, while others may need a specific food plan that they can actually follow.
Everybody is different. However, if you can find an approach and lifestyle that works for you, then you do have the chance to lose weight and to keep it off.
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How do you feel about the Cambridge diet? Could it work for you or is it mostly just hype?