Cambridge Diet Plan – Is it for You?

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Cambridge DietIf you’re looking for fast and dramatic weight loss diets, then the Cambridge diet plan might just be the one for you. This low-calorie diet basically replaces your usual diet with a wide range of soups, shakes, snack bars, and porridges. While this may sound difficult, a lot of people have lost weight as a result of meal replacement products but it may not be as glamorous as you think.

Read on below to learn more about this diet and how it works. 

What is the Cambridge Diet?

The Cambridge diet is an extreme weight-loss plan designed to provide for people’s daily nutritional requirements while allowing for an extreme calorie deficit. It was initially created by nutritionist, Dr. Alan Howard in 1970 while working at Cambridge University. This diet would be later introduced commercially around the US in 1980 and the UK in 1984 — today, it is known as the 1:1 diet, which refers to the one-to-one support from their Cambridge consultant to the dieter. 

Known as a low-calorie meal replacement diet, it promotes the daily consumption of meal replacements such as soups, shakes, and snack bars, all of which are specifically designed for the program. This will then fulfill a person’s daily nutritional requirements while following strict calorie guidelines, which will result in rapid weight loss. However, you can choose from six different variations of the plan, depending on your weight loss plans. 

A Cambridge weight plan consultant will be there to follow your progress and will get you started on the right variation for your needs, but some steps may need written consent from your health provider. This very low-calorie diet claims to be more affordable compared to Weight Watchers while helping them to lose weight faster compared to the average diet. But to be clear, this is an extreme diet and is highly restrictive, putting the body into starvation mode through an overly low-calorie deficit during your weight loss journey.

How does the Cambridge Diet Work?

Working in a similar way to the popular keto diet, the Cambridge diet also forces the body to enter a state of ketosis. When the body doesn’t get access to enough carbohydrate-based energy sources, it starts to burn our fat deposits, which leads to a drop in our body weight. Originally conceived at the University of Cambridge, this plan comes with three steps; meal replacement products, a personalized plan, and one-to-one consultant-led support.

Because you need to strictly follow their guidelines, the Cambridge diet can’t be easily recreated at home, so you will need to sign up for this plan, where experts can help you do everything as needed. There are six different steps to undertake, which provide between 450 to 1000 calories each day. The first step is referred to as the “Sole Source” diet, the hardest part of the diet, which involves consuming only Cambridge diet products along with water. 

Step six is the final part of this diet and is known as “Maintenance,” which is more flexible and allows dieters to have healthy meals along with meal replacements. Below is a breakdown of all the steps involved. 

Step 1

  • Sole source: Eat three to four meals a day from Cambridge weight plan’s own brand, consuming 415 to 554 calories, to last between one to 12 weeks. 
  • Sole source +: Eat three Cambridge meal products along with 200ml of skimmed milk every day, consuming 615 calories per day, lasting between one to 12 weeks.

Step 2

Eat two Cambridge diet products along with protein-rich foods, some vegetables, and skimmed milk, consuming 810 calories per day, to last for a minimum of one week. 

Step 3

Eat two Cambridge diet products along with breakfast and skimmed milk, as well as salads for both lunch and dinner, consuming 2000 calories per day for two weeks. 

Step 4

Eat two Cambridge diet products along with breakfast and skimmed milk, as well as lunch and dinner for two weeks. 

Step 5

Eat one Cambridge diet product along with breakfast and skimmed milk, as well as lunch, dinner, and a snack for two weeks. 

Step 6

The maintenance stage where you can eat a healthy diet along with Cambridge diet products of your choice to be continued indefinitely. 

Cambridge Diet Pros and Cons

This diet is known for its convenient and no-fuss approach, where dieters can work with consultants for guidance, allowing them to make a successful transition from their usual diets. It provides an effective solution for individuals who lack the time to create healthy meals, while also helping with portion control. But like all diets, the Cambridge diet plan also comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, all of which we explore below.

Advantages of the Cambridge Diet

The Cambridge Diet Plan claims to provide drastic and fast weight loss and is also claimed to provide a way of healthy eating. Their low-calorie range of products were created to be nutritionally balanced, and a dieter can expect to get all their required nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. There are also scientific studies that support this diet to provide sustainable weight loss, along with long-term benefits. 

Moreover, there is now more evidence than ever suggesting that this diet can be used to lose as much as 15 kg of weight. It’s also known for managing prediabetes, diabetes, obesity, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disorders, and obstructive sleep apnea. Here are just a few of the key benefits you can reap from the Cambridge diet plan. 

  • It’s a straightforward diet: The Cambridge diet is quite easy to follow, especially during stage one where you only need to eat their meal replacement products. As such, it’s a great diet for people whole can’t cook regular meals from scratch or have problems with portion control. 
  • It can address bad food habits: Those who struggle with breaking the cycle of unhealthy snacks and takeaways can benefit from this diet’s structure. During the first few weeks, this diet can help to lessen the number of calories consumed, break old food habits, and provide a positive mindset that can fast-track your weight loss. 
  • It’s a nutritionally complete diet: With this diet, you’ll be able to consume your daily minimum intake of minerals and vitamins. While most low-calorie diets can significantly limit the number of nutrients you can get, the Cambridge diet provides nutritionally balanced foods. This includes their low-calorie soups, snack bars, and shakes. 

Disadvantages of the Cambridge Diet

There is evidence to suggest that going on a diet plan with less than 1000 calories a day shouldn’t be implemented continuously for over 12 weeks. Should a dieter decide to eat only 600 calories or less each day, they will need to be constantly monitored by a diet professional or healthcare provider to avoid severe consequences such as a decrease in muscle mass. Other experts also believe that this diet could pose various side effects such as bad breath, nausea, constipation, cold sensation, dizziness, flatulence, and tiredness. 

The Cambridge diet has also been known to create stones in the gall bladder. Because this diet makes us of meal replacements, it may also increase cravings and lead to weight gain. As such, it may not be an effective long-term solution for weight management, and it may even start eating disorders. 

Unfortunately, the highly strict nature of this diet, many dieters become demoralized during their first week, and many will also face difficulties keeping up with their diet guidelines for a while. Some experts also agree that those who experience drastic weight loss are more likely to gain their weight back. Below are some of the biggest cons when it comes to the Cambridge diet.

  • It’s restrictive: Most people have an issue with how much the diet relies on using their products, along with the fact that it’s very restrictive of what you can and can’t eat. Under this diet, the daily foods consist of smoothies, shakes, porridge, and soups, which may result in diet fatigue, as a result of the limited kinds of food on offer. 
  • It comes with side effects: Unfortunately, this diet can be hard on the stomach, and various side effects of the diet include dizziness, fatigue, hair loss, headache, and constipation to say the least. Compared to other diets, the Cambridge diet shows a particularly high rate of side effects, adding another hurdle to its already hard-to-follow regimen. 
  • May disrupt the metabolism: This diet may compromise your metabolic rate, making it more difficult to burn calories. By the time you return to your normal diet, you may find that your weight won’t just come back but may also increase. 
  • It’s a meal replacement diet: Sustainable weight loss comes down to what your shop for and what you cook, rather than meal replacements. Rather than being spoon-fed with processed foods, it’s much better to make informed decisions on real healthy food choices. 
  • It’s expensive: Yet another disadvantage of this diet is the fact meal replacements can be expensive.

Is the Cambridge Diet Safe? 

When the diet was initially introduced in the 1970s, it had a daily calorie intake of just 330 kcals per day, which was dangerously low. In recent years, this was changed to 600 kcals a day, which can go up to 1500 calories a day in the final steps of the plan. Even so, dieters will still be putting their bodies through an extremely low-calorie diet throughout the course of the plan and enter starvation mode. 

Experts agree that there are many other ways to lose a lot of weight through healthier means. Moreover, because it’s a short-term diet, a lot of people might struggle to maintain their weight loss in the future. While it can provide fast results, people will often find themselves lost after they finish their plan. 

As a result, it’s not a very sustainable diet plan and it won’t give you all the tools and knowledge you’ll need to create permanent healthy habits to maintain a healthy weight. The plan is also highly restrictive and only allows you to eat their specific low-calorie meals that consist of smoothies, shakes, and soups. Their range of food is quite limited, and dieters may quickly get bored of the small selection and may feel depraved of their favorite foods. 

Who Shouldn’t Try the Cambridge Diet Plan

Not everyone should do the Cambridge diet, even if they are overweight and looking to shed pounds. If you still want to try this diet plan, be sure to consult your healthcare provider before starting. However, there are people who shouldn’t try the Cambridge diet, listed below. 

  • Individuals who are underweight or have a BMI below 20
  • Individuals with an eating disorder 
  • Those who are 14 years old and under
  • Those on anti-obesity medication 
  • People who have experienced a stroke or heart attack in the last three months
  • People who have been prescribed monoamine oxidase inhibitor medication
  • Those who are dependent on alcohol or have substance abuse issues 
  • Breastfeeding or pregnant women, or women who have given birth in the last three months

Reviews of the Cambridge Diet 

After getting the opinions of dieters who have experienced the Cambridge diet at least once, there is an apparent consensus that the limited food selection doesn’t encourage them to continue their diet. Moreover, many agree that there’s not enough food in their diet to sustain normal functions in their daily lives. Other participants of the diet said that the consultants weren’t as supportive as they would have liked — others were quick to point out how expensive the products were. 


Below are just a few of the most commonly asked questions regarding the Cambridge diet, which we have answered for you. 

Does the Cambridge Diet Put You in a State of Ketosis? 

Much like the ketogenic diet, the Cambridge diet does help ketosis to naturally occur in the body, even if it doesn’t specifically aim to do this. Through meal replacements that lack carbohydrates and the steep reduction of calories in the body, ketosis can take place. The low-calorie shakes and bars provided in the diet have virtually no carbs, which helps to facilitate weight loss.

Ketosis starts when the body receives less than 50g of carbohydrates daily and enters a metabolic state. Under a normal diet, the body will usually convert carbs into glucose to be used as a source of energy for the organs, tissues, and cells. Once the body recognizes that there are no more carbohydrates to make energy with, the liver will begin to produce ketones from fat, effectively burning them for energy. 

While ketosis may help with weight loss, it can also reduce the body’s energy levels and will often result in headaches, muscle cramps or soreness, fatigue, and digestive problems such as stomach aches and constipation. 

How Much Weight Can You Lose with the Cambridge Diet?

Dieters will usually report losing 14 pounds each month on the Cambridge diet, but this will depend on your starting weight and how closely you follow the diet. Because of the low-calorie diet, your body will go through all your fat deposits, resulting in fat melting away from the body and weight loss. However, maintaining your weight is a different matter and the Cambridge diet isn’t known for its strong long-term results. 

Successfully maintaining your weight loss results will depend on the behavioral changes you were able to pick up from your journey. 

How much does it Cost to Start on the Cambridge Diet?

Prices will vary from one consultant to another, but you can expect to pay around £2.63 ($3.26) for a meal on average. When ordering on a weekly basis, you may need to shell out a total of £55.23 ($68.34), which gets you three meals and a weekly consultation, but keep in mind that you will need to buy the products ahead of time. A week on the diet may be more affordable compared to grocery shopping, you need to buy a minimum of two weeks’ worth of products, which means that expenses can quickly get higher. 

The Verdict Behind the Cambridge Diet Plan

In the end, both experts and the evidence point to the fact that extremely low-calorie diets aren’t sustainable and won’t help maintain weight loss in the long run. The Cambridge diet also poses too many risks both physically and mentally for it to be a great choice for your ultimate goal of long-term weight loss. If you’re after real changes, don’t fall into the trap of buying products for weight loss, and never believe the promise of fast results. 

To experience true weight loss, be sure to create a healthy calorie deficit, and build balanced meals consisting of healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates. You can also speak to your nutritionist to provide you with customized dietary meals that will meet your weight and health goals, while also caring for your mind and body through the process.