A quick way to lose the Christmas pounds? Dan McKeown investigates
Love turkey but the bathroom scales won’t love you? Want a sure-fire way to drop the weight gained over the Christmas period? Dan McKeown and his valiant team of volunteers from Wimbledon’s News Associates take on the three day diet to see if there really is a quick fix available.
Christmas is a-coming and it’s not just the geese who need worry about getting fat: most of us gain a pound or two over the holiday and ‘January joiners’ are a common sight at gyms in the new year as folk look to get back in shape.
If you’re not the exercising type, the alternative is a diet, but what if there were one which could help you drop the festive fat in just three days?
The three day diet, as it is known, prescribes three meals a day for its duration, with recommendations for what each should be. Each meal to be accompanied by a black coffee or tea, or a glass of water.
Various rumours circulate about how the diet works. Some say the combination of foods causes a metabolic reaction. More cynical observers say the weight is simply lost through dehydration.
I was intrigued: could this dubious quick-fix diet exorcise the ghost of Christmas just-gone-past?
I resolved to find out and assembled a team of volunteers, whom I shall refer to below as subjects A, B, C and D (although their real names are Lindsay, Nick, Sophie and Matt, respectively.)
Myself, and subjects A-C were all within our ideal BMI range before starting. Subject C (Sophie) is also vegetarian, so I was interested to see how she would make up for the lean meat / frankfurters.
“Quorn,” she shrugged. Fair enough.
Day one – the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
Fortified by the warm anticipation of imminent weight loss (not to mention quality journalism), I sailed through a breakfast of Marmite over five Jacobs crackers.
Subjects A-C seemed similarly buoyant and we linked arms and skipped Wizard-of-Oz style to Sainsbury’s at lunchtime to stock up on cottage cheese.
Subject D (Matt) showed up late in the morning to announce that he had partaken of a monster breakfast at a hotel and would have to enter the fray a day behind the rest of us.
In the afternoon, however, we started feeling listless. This could have been down to poor hydration or merely Monday afternoon lectures.
Then there was dinner and I needed 3oz of lean meat. When I told the very helpful lady at the deli, she carved me off a single slice of turkey and bade me bon apetit. The parsimony of this nearly reduced me to blubbering in the supermarket.
If passengers on the train that evening were put out to see me ferociously devouring an apple, core and all, they were good enough to keep it to themselves.
Subject C made do with a slice of toast with peanut butter and a cup of tea for dinner, which was a bit above and beyond the call of duty.
Day two – how far can a man walk into the desert?
Subject D (Matt) proudly announced that he’d kicked off the diet in the morning with an egg on toast. I didn’t give him great odds of making the end of the day.
Sure enough, by lunchtime he was complaining about having to do stuff ‘on an empty stomach’ and by teatime he was making his excuses.
I gnashed my teeth at having lost my prize guinea pig, but resisted the temptation to call him various things. I even kept my cool when we ended up having dinner in the same room: he tucking into bangers and mash, while I dismally prodded two hot dogs and some steamed broccoli around my plate.
This was the day when the strain started to show: Subject A (Lindsay) complained of lethargy, aching bones and, later, insomnia, while Subject C stoically went home early with a migraine.
“That’s terrible,” I said, sounding suitably concerned. That’s awesome, I thought, making notes.
Day three – staring into the abyss of the human soul
Moods were generally improved by the fact that we were nearing the end of our regime. Subject B (Nick) and I had played football the previous evening and were moving like a pair of pensioners.
Subject B had also body-checked me to the floor in said game, possibly seeking revenge for the dietary misery I was inflicting on him.
Subject C was back and seemed healthy.
Subject A had sea bass for dinner, the lucky thing.
I burned off a few extra calories at lunch racing across London to investigate reports of a break-in at my flat, and spent the evening fantasising about roast pork and apple sauce, roast lamb and mint sauce…
Day four – the moment of truth
I gave chocolate oranges to my three hardy volunteers, and popped into Argos to purchase a set of bathroom scales.
To my frank astonishment, I found that I had lost well over half a stone. I say ‘astonishment’ because I was fairly sure that I’d been over-generous with my portions of food throughout.
Subjects A and C, sad to say, reported no weight loss. Not the greatest reward for 72 hours of hardship. Subject A said that she wouldn’t recommend the diet to anyone.
Subject B texted me after his next bathroom break to say that he’d lost half a stone.
I spent the day basking in the glory of my weight loss and feeling enormously thirsty.
On day five, I got back on the scales again. What I saw displeased me so much that I put the scales back in their box and put the box on a high shelf: all of the weight that had disappeared during the diet had come back and, what was worse, it had brought some friends with it.
The quicker the fix, the quicker it wears off, I guess. Although the three-day diet might be just the ticket for a boxer looking to drop some pounds before a weigh in, as far as ridding myself of the festive flab goes, I think that January gym membership might be in order after all.