The cookie diet is back! I first heard about this about 5 years ago, and thought it had died out as all fad diets do, but it looks like I was wrong. A company called ‘Weight to go’ has created a cookie diet with a brand new cookie! So, without further-a-do, lets have a look at the diet, see if it works, and see if it is a fad diet.
Cookie diet overview
The cookie diet is aimed at middle aged women who may not exercise, but will have a busy and hectic lifestyle. To help you manage your diet around your lifestyle ‘Weight to go’ offer to send you all the meals as ready meals, making them easy to prepare.
For the cookie diet each 24 hour period you must follow the below meal plan, which they will kindly ship to you (except any meat you have in the final meal, or the portion of fruit). You can’t eat anything else throughout the day (I’m sure a bit of milk in your tea is allowed though).
- Banana milkshake
- Butternut squash soup
- Double chocolate chip cookie
- Spanish style rice + 100g of chicken breast
The idea of eating 5 times a day (only 1 is an actual meal though) is that you are drip feeding your body nutrients and energy, which will help combat feelings of hunger, which can lead to snacking unhealthily.
Cookie diet Analysis
First thing that rings my fad diet alarm bells is the fact that this diet revolves around a ‘magic food’ (their special cookie). I say magic food, because there is no science backing it up, just claims it will somehow help you lose weight through what I can only assume is magic… But superstitions aside, lets have a look at the nutrition of this diet using the above sample day.
Total calories: 1214 kcals (although their website states that you will average 850Kcals a day)
- Grams of sugar: 49.8g ( about 200 kcals)
- Grams of protein: 60.5g (about 242 Kcals)
- Grams of fat: 43g (about 387 kcals). (the rest of the calories will be made from complex carbs)
- Grams of salt: 2.26g
Micro-nutrient content is impossible to determine, but from looking at the ingredients list of all the products, the only ones which contain any significant source of micro-nutrients are the soup, evening meal, and the portion of fruit. If I had to make assumptions on micro-nutrients in this plan (and they are assumptions) I would say you would get quite a bit of vitamin C and A, and quite a variety of minerals (but most in small quantities). However, I would think you would be lacking in Vitamin D, E, K and many B vitamins.
Also of note are the sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame K and Sucralose) from the cookie and the milkshake.
What does this nutritional intake mean for you?
As this diet is aimed at women, typically you will need to be eating at least 2000kcals to maintain a healthy weight. Chances are though, if you are looking to lose weight you are either not moving about enough, or are eating much more than this, but lets assume you are eating 2000kcals and want to lose weight.
Calories – The calories consumed on this diet will put you in an energy deficit of at least 786Kcals a day, which is over twice the healthy calorie deficit for weight loss, which is 300Kcals. This is not a healthy calorie deficit, and plays havoc with biological systems. If, as their website says, you only have 850Kcals a day you are in a very serious and unhealthy calorie deficit of at least 1150Kcals!
Sugar (49.8g) – Pretty much 50g of sugar!? Ok, so I appreciate much of this will be natural sugars, which is a little more acceptable, it certainly will help avoiding insulin spikes, but it still is quite shocking. The RDA for sugar in the UK is actually 50g, which I think is quite high, but there you go. I guess a diet revolving around a cookie could be worse right? Neither good nor bad.
Protein (60.5g) – Nothing wrong with this at all. Increases satiety, doesn’t easily get converted to energy or fat, and doesn’t cause insulin spikes. Nothing wrong with this.
Fat (43g) – Without knowing what types of fat this actually comprises of it is very hard to make a judgement. If its all trans-fats, then its bad, if its all healthy fats like omega-3 then its good (although you wouldn’t want it all to be omega-3!), 43g of a variety of fats is ok though.
Salt (2.26g) – For a diet which is so high in processed foods this is a pleasant surprise, 2.26g of salt is low – good.
Micro-nutrients – I would worry that you would be missing out on a lot of micro-nutrients, although the exact deficit of which ones is impossible to say. Probably not good.
Sweeteners and other artificial additives – With processed foods you are bound to find these chemicals somewhere. They are not something I would want in my body. These sweeteners are covered in some detail here.
Cookie diet summary and final thoughts
The cookie diet is a fad diet, it is a little better than some I have seen in the past, but to be honest, that isn’t really saying much…
Typical of fad diets, it revolves around a specific ‘magic’ food (the cookie), promises amazing weight loss if you follow their strict diet plan, and is nothing more than a dangerous calorie deficit which offers very little actual nutrition. I can guarantee that if you follow this cookie diet plan you will lose weight, but after you have followed the plan you will gain more weight than you started with. This is what happens with dramatic calorie deficits, and is commonly referred to as weight ‘yo-yo-ing’ by people who have tried a number of fad diets. You are also likely to get ill from the deficit and lack of good nutrition.
In short – don’t do the cookie diet by ‘Weight to go’. If you are really crazy enough/ stupid enough to do this diet, you might as-well just part starve yourself, it would at least be much cheaper to do!
Image courtesy of sixthlie