The so-called ‘Milk Diet’ is not a new concept, but lots of people are talking about it this week, and there’s been a spike in Google searches on the topic.
As the moniker suggests, the full version of this ‘diet’ is pretty extreme, and involves cutting out all foods and just drinking four pints of semi-skimmed milk a day – for a whole month.
Well, it’s high in calcium, which is associated with aiding the body in getting rid of fat – but by no means is milk a miracle weight-loss formula. The crux of the Milk Diet – as with most fad diets – is that it dramatically cuts your calorie consumption (implying you’ll drop weight fast). Milk might seem a ‘more filling’ liquid option too.
Tempted? We hope not… But before you raid the dairy aisles, we’ve asked three healthy eating pros – a nutritionist, an NHS weight-loss consultant and an eating disorder specialist – for their views:
The nutritionist on the Milk Diet
“This is just another ridiculous example of an extreme diet that I would not recommend. Four pints of semi-skimmed milk only provides just over 1,000kcals per day, so it’s obvious you will lose weight, and in the short term it’s unlikely to do you any serious harm - however, this type of dieting does nothing to promote healthy eating practices that are more likely to help you keep weight off long-term,” Rob stresses.
“For any prolonged period, this diet will leave you lacking in essential nutrients such as magnesium, iron, niacin, folate and vitamins C and D, as well as completely lacking in fibre.
“Very low-calorie liquid diets (fortified meal replacements) are available from a number of companies and are designed for those who are very overweight, and recommended to be carried out under the supervision of a health professional.
“I wouldn’t recommend the Milk Diet to anyone - although the likelihood is, after a few days, boredom would set in!”
The NHS weight-loss consultant on the Milk Diet
Dr Sally Norton, NHS weight loss consultant surgeon, and founder of www.vavistalife.com, firmly believes “diets don’t work”.
“I’ve seen it time and time again: Women come into to my surgery, desperate to lose weight after struggling for years with diet after diet. Every time they fail at yet another quick-fix plan, they end up feeling depressed and disappointed in themselves, as if it’s their fault. But if diets actually work, then why do so many fail, time after time? Diets simply don’t work,” she says – noting that a recent US study, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, “highlighted that around a third of adults claim to be dieting at any given time, with the majority of adults having tried to lose weight at some point in their lives”.
“Why, then, are around two-thirds of the population still overweight or obese? Aside from the chemical changes which take place when we starve ourselves, or self-esteem issues that arise from constant yo-yo dieting, this study highlighted three of my other top reasons for diet failure,” she adds.
"One - that “deprivation doesn’t work” (because it just leaves you miserable and obsessing about the things you’re not allowed); two – that “willpower is overrated” (relying on willpower alone is doomed to failure because it zaps your mental energy), and three – that you “need to enjoy it to do it”.
“Find some healthier choices you actually think are tasty,” Dr Norton suggests. “It’s not just about eating healthy foods; it’s about eating healthy foods you like. Healthy doesn’t have to be boring – there are plenty of healthy yet delicious recipes out there.”
The eating disorder specialist on the Milk Diet
Alexia Dempsey, a specialist eating disorders dietician at the world-famous Priory Hospital in Roehampton, south-west London, says while “a ‘quick-fix’ might seem tempting for people to ‘kick start’ their New Year resolution or healthy weight loss plan”, they can have a negative psychological impact.
“Starting a sensible lifestyle change takes motivation and organisation, and restrictive diets will invariably be short-term and lead to the individual feeling like they’ve failed. This could lead to the continuation of a damaging dieting cycle, which can then have a real impact on their self-esteem, exacerbating an already difficult situation,” Alexia explains.
“In contrast, we know from years of experience that small changes that can be ingrained in everyday life are effective and encouraging, providing the sense of achievement we all crave.
“While some restrictive diets can be effective under medical supervision as part of treatment for obesity, they are not designed for the general population. There often needs to be a psychological input that runs alongside intervening in someone’s diet. This supports a person to explore what has led to the obesity in the first place, and helps them understand their unhelpful eating behaviours.”
Have you tried the Milk Diet? Tell us your experiences in the comments below