The Danish Diet has found increased popularity over the past year, after being tested on the channel 4 TV show, How to Lose Weight Well. The diet lasts for 13 days, and it has been claimed that you can lose as much as 22lbs (about 10 kg) in this time.
But, before you get excited about this diet, we should let you know a few things; this incredibly strict and severe diet does not include Danish Pastries, which we were definitely disappointed about.
It is incredibly restrictive and is considered a VLCD (very low calorie diet), as the food you can eat daily typically contains 600 calories or less.
A full menu plan for the Danish Diet can be found online for free very easily. The diet plan is very protein heavy, and also features some vegetables such as spinach, carrots, tomatoes, and celery. Protein comes from boiled eggs, chicken, ham, lamb, beef, and cod. Yoghurt also features on the menu occasionally. On the majority of days dieters do not have a solid breakfast, instead, opting for a coffee with a single sugar, but sometimes dieters are also permitted a slice of toast.
Day one of the diet plan is as follows:
The most severe day of the diet appears to be day 7, with the menu for the entire day being unsweetened tea for breakfast, water for lunch, and 200 grams of lamb and an apple for dinner. This diet is extreme, to say the least, and requires a lot of willpower and determination to be followed. Obviously, this diet is not sustainable at all but is likely to cause a lot of weight loss quickly. One of the rules of the diet is no added salt, and so a lot of the weight loss is likely to be water weight; sodium helps the body to retain water, and so reducing your sodium intake will reduce bloating and cause increased urination and a loss of water weight.
As mentioned above, The Danish Diet is notoriously strict. Not only are dieters restricted to under 600 calories a day, and have their meals precisely laid out for them, but there is also a long list of extra rules to follow. We have summarised them below.
The Danish Diet is also known as The Copenhagen Diet and as The Danish Royal Hospital Diet. The story goes that a doctor at a hospital in Denmark invented this diet for morbidly obese patients to follow for quick weight loss before invasive surgery. The risk of surgical procedures increases as your weight does, as additional fat mass puts pressure on your body, and so the idea follows that losing weight reduces the risk of having surgery, and could even speed up the recovery process.
In the “origin story” of the Danish Diet, dieters would have been under medical supervision for the duration of the diet, and the diet would have been undertaken out of medical necessity.
Unfortunately, as far as we can tell, the origin story for this diet is completely fabricated. No individual doctor or hospital (in Denmark or otherwise) have claimed the Danish Diet as their own creation, and medical professionals routinely denounce the meal plan as unsafe and excessive crash dieting. The only part of the origin story that should carry any weight is the idea of having medical supervision whilst undertaking this diet. Side effects that should immediately be reported to a doctor include muscle cramps, confusion, and dizziness. Should any of these side effects occur, stop following the diet immediately.
We advise anyone who wants to try the Danish Diet to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement, as this diet will be deficient in lots of vitamins and minerals. The Danish Diet is not nutritionally balanced, sustainable, or healthy.
Following any diet with so few calories per day is likely to make the dieter feel lethargic and fatigued. Exercising whilst following the Danish Diet would be almost impossible, and is certainly not advisable. Constipation is one side effect that has been reported anecdotally; eating less will decrease the amount of bowel movements anyway, but it also seems likely that the diet is low in fibre. If you get “hangry” (angry when hungry), then expect to be irritable and most likely miserable for the duration of the diet.
Side effects that should immediately be reported to a doctor include muscle cramps, confusion, and dizziness.
The Danish Diet is theoretically a very cheap diet to follow, as it definitely cuts down on the amount of food you need to buy over a two week period. The Danish Diet meal plan has been made available to purchase online, but there are lots of websites that publish the meal plan and instructions for free, making the purchase of an ebook totally unnecessary.
It is undeniable that if you can stick with the Danish Diet for the full 13-day plan, then it will be effective. We have found reports of people losing 1 stone (14 lbs) in just 13 days.
However, the real issue with short-term, high-intensity diets such as the Danish Diet is whether or not the weight will be regained after the diet is complete.
The diet plan does advise that you slowly increase your daily calorie intake after completing the diet, and then adopt a healthy eating plan in the long term, in order to avoid regaining weight. Simply returning to your previous dietary habits after following the Danish Diet will lead to quick weight gain.
When following a VLCD, your body enters starvation mode, where it starts to use energy stored within the body as a fuel source. However, this energy can come from stored fat (which leads to fat loss) or could come from muscle mass. The amount of muscle we have plays a huge role in our metabolic rate; the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn per day, and therefore the easier it is to maintain or lose weight. Following a VLCD can cause loss of muscle mass, which in turn lowers the metabolism, which makes it easier to regain weight and even harder to lose weight.
We believe that it is incredibly important that you do not extend the Danish Diet past the recommended 13 days. The longer you continue this diet for, the greater the negative impact will be upon your muscle mass and metabolic rate. It also seems to be a form of self-torture to continue to follow this diet for any longer than necessary!
At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide whether or not the Danish Diet is worth it; if you can battle through 13 days of being constantly hungry, low on energy, and miserable, whilst managing to stick to the diet, then you will be thinner than when you started. If your dietary habits revert to normal after the diet finishes, then your results are unlikely to last for long.
Rebound weight gain is a huge concern after following this type of diet and can lead to an unhealthy pattern of yo-yo dieting. We advise avoiding the Danish Diet, opting instead for a more moderate plan that also allows you the energy levels to follow a moderate exercise plan!
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.