The Cambridge diet is a very low calorie diet (VLCD), that was developed in 1970 by Dr. Alan Howard of the Cambridge University, United Kingdom. The diet was developed to promote rapid weight loss in morbidly obese people, by severely restricting their total calorie intake. Basically, one needs to follow a diet of 400 to 800 calories per day, till the weight loss goal is met.
This diet became quite popular in the United Kingdom during 1980s. But in the subsequent period, it faced a lot of criticism for some potential health problems that are associated with such a low calorie diet. However, in the recent times, the diet has been modified and made less severe, in order to comply with the guidelines of the relevant health authorities.
Understanding the Concept of Cambridge Diet
This diet is usually recommended for morbidly obese people with a body mass index of more than 25. Such individuals basically need to stick to a very low calorie, liquid-based diet of 400 to 800 calories per day during the weight loss program. The most important benefit of this diet is rapid weight loss. In fact, the individuals following this diet can lose weight without exercising.
But such a low calorie diet cannot provide the required amounts of the essential nutrients, for which this diet is usually combined with the supplements of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. This diet usually includes low calorie shakes, soups, porridge, and meal replacement bars. When the body does not receive enough calories or nutrition, it starts to use the stored fats to produce energy. The Cambridge diet works by stimulating this fat burning process, which is known as ‘ketosis’.
Cambridge Diet Dangers
The medical community has always expressed their apprehensions for a very low calorie diet like the Cambridge diet. As mentioned already, such a low calorie diet cannot provide the required amount of the essential nutrients, and therefore, it can cause several side effects. However, the Cambridge diet incorporates supplements of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
But many experts feel that certain essential nutrients can be lost as a result of such a severe restriction on total calorie intake. Additionally, the process ketosis can not only burns fats, but muscles as well. Therefore, this diet is not considered a healthy diet for weight loss by many medical professionals.
However, the modern version of the Cambridge diet has been modified, and this modified version is considered less severe than the original diet. But still, dietary restrictions can give rise to a number of side effects. However, all individuals may not experience the side effects associated with this diet. The most commonly reported side effects of this diet are, headaches, nausea, dizziness, bad breath, constipation, diarrhea, and temporary hair loss.
Headaches and dizziness are usually caused by dehydration, which can be alleviated by increasing fluid intake. This in turn, can help prevent constipation as well. Bad breath or halitosis mainly occurs due to an increase in the level of ketones, the byproducts generated in the process of burning fats or ‘ketosis’. Apart from these side effects, one can experience temporary weakness due to low calorie intake.
This diet is usually not considered safe for people suffering from heart problems and eating disorders. Even those who do not have any major medical problem should not follow the diet without consulting a diet counselor and a physician. In general, one can start this diet only after consulting an approved Cambridge Diet counselor.
The diet suggested by the counselor depends on how much weight a person wants to lose and how rapidly. While following the diet, you may experience a few of the aforementioned side effects for a while. If these side effects persist for a prolonged time period, or if they become severe, then be sure to immediately contact the diet counselor and your physician.