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The Blood Sugar Diet Review

Updated on June 25, 2017

The Blood Sugar Diet is a book by Dr Michael Moseley. It promises to shed 10% to 15% of your body weight in just 8 weeks! Essentially, it's a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD), with one huge difference: it uses real food.

VLCD systems usually require you to replace some or all of your meals with diet shakes or bars, which have one big drawback: they don't help you learn new eating habits. Once the diet is over, you go back to cooking the same meals you did before, with ingredients and/or portion sizes that are unhealthy, so you'll put the weight right back on.

The Blood Sugar Diet is not only much tastier (because food always tastes better than synthetic shakes!), it also teaches you about healthy eating, so you'll know how to maintain your weight once you've reached your goal.

Having spent hours Googling on the diet and finding forums full of people who have achieved and maintained the promised weight loss, I was convinced. However, I also discovered that you have to be organized and methodical to succeed, and I know that's not me! So I decided to sign up for an online version, which promised lots of help and support to get through it.

The group I joined was the Blood Sugar Diet Online (BSD Online). This is my detailed review.

Is BSD Online Value for Money?

It's obvious that the 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet is value for money - all you have to do is buy the book! But what about the online program?

The first difference that strikes you about the online program is that it's 12 weeks, whereas the diet in the book is only 8 weeks.

When I did the program the fee was about $130 (99 pounds sterling), and I hesitated about the cost - but the longer duration made me feel I was getting better value. It works out at about $11 a week for 12 weeks, whereas it would be $16 a week for 8 weeks. Bargain!

You can imagine how I felt, then, when I got my welcome email and discovered that "Week One" isn't week one at all! It's "orientation" week. In practice that meant a couple of handouts about weight loss and health, and advice to clear out my pantry. That's what I call an "introduction" and not enough to justify calling it a full week of the program, in my book.

I also discovered there are two weeks in the middle where they don't give you a shopping list or recipes - you're on your own. Then the final week is just a wrap-up, again with no recipes or shopping list.

So in all, the online program is just 8 weeks of actual menus and shopping lists. The extra four weeks don't offer much, if anything, of value. I felt somewhat deceived by that - although to be fair, I subsequently discovered that the book for the diet has only four weeks of menus, and you repeat those in the second four weeks.

I chose the 12-week online program to reduce the amount of planning and calculation I'd have to do myself
I chose the 12-week online program to reduce the amount of planning and calculation I'd have to do myself | Source

Shopping Lists, Menus and Meals

Shopping

My main reason for joining the online program was the fact that every week's meals would be planned out for me, and at the start of each week I could download a shopping list to take to the supermarket.

That turned out to be true (albeit for eight weeks rather than twelve). However, I was surprised at the length of the shopping list! Not only did my trip to the store take much longer than usual, but the total cost was over a third more than it normally is.

Disappointingly, the shopping list is just a printed list, not an interactive system. Like most people, there are some foods I don't like, and that meant I substituted a couple of meals and had to scribble all over my shopping list to make the adjustments. I had expected to be able to adjust the menu plan and have a shopping list made specially for me. There are websites which can do that, so it's technically possible.

Menu Planning

When I started preparing the meals, I discovered why there was so much food. The meals seemed to be chosen for variety above all else, and there was a lot of wastage.

As an example, I needed half a cup of almond milk for a breakfast porridge on Tuesday. That meant buying a whole carton of almond milk, which was then not used in any of the other recipes that week - so the rest got poured down the sink.

I assumed that when the Program spoke about "menu planning", they would have some regard to our budget - so if almond milk was on the shopping list, for instance, they'd include two or three recipes using it over the course of the week, not just one, so it wouldn't be wasted.

You may think that you could use up the leftovers in other ways - but there is very little room for manoeuvre on this program. Just an extra half a cup of almond milk or an extra ounce or two of salmon could blow your diet, so you simply can't yield to the temptation to eat the excess!

Meals

On this Program, I spent significantly longer in the kitchen than I normally would. There were more vegetables to chop, ingredients to be measured and weighed carefully, and lots of different spices and seasonings to be added. I didn't find that a hardship because, fortunately, I have the time to spare. In fact, it reminded me of how much I used to enjoy cooking in my twenties, before I got promoted to a high-powered job! It was fun rediscovering the joys of cookery, but I wonder how a busy working mum would cope with it.

The meals themselves were delicious and although the servings were small, I didn't feel deprived of food.

What I did feel deprived of was a social life. The participants in the original scientific study of this diet found the same thing. The food is fine and hunger isn't an issue - boredom is!

Like I said, there's no room for flexibility in this diet. If you want to go out for a meal, it's highly unlikely there's anything on the menu that's low enough in calories. If you're going to a social event, your only option is to make something and take it with you. Also, although they say you can drink alcohol if you cut out something else, you'd have to cut out an entire meal to compensate, and you're already eating a bare minimum every day. So it's not really an option - you have to drink water.

The net result was that if I wanted to go out and enjoy myself, I had to regard that as a Blew My Diet day. I was reluctant to have too many of those, so I resigned myself to being pretty much a hermit for the duration.

What is the Support Like?

Support on the program is provided in a forum. It's a basic forum, where you can't easily keep track when new topics or replies have been posted. There's no facility to create a profile and there's no way to see who else is on the program unless they create a forum post to say hello. Because it's just text on a page, it doesn't feel like a community. Its only benefit is that there are experts to answer your questions.

Eventually, I discovered a Facebook page for the 8-week book and joined that. I found it much more lively.

Fresh vegetables and Mediterranean flavors are big features of the diet
Fresh vegetables and Mediterranean flavors are big features of the diet | Source

My Verdict

I think the 8-week Blood Sugar Diet is an excellent concept.

However I didn't feel the 12-week online program was value for money, because I'd been hoping it would be designed to make the diet easy to follow, and that I'd be motivated by the support in the forum.

In reality, I found that the online program didn't add any value to the basic diet because:

  • It didn't remove the need to count calories. We were advised not to trust the calorie counts in the menu plans (because of differences between products), but to track our own calories using MyFitnessPal.com
  • It only partially removed the need to make a shopping list. The list they provide is a simple Word document - if you make changes to your menu plan, you have to make your own changes manually.
  • The forum was primitive, like a forum from ten years ago. It was too hard to follow and because it was just text, it didn't engage me. I didn't find the experts much help.

As for the 8-week diet itself, I had only one problem with it - the huge restrictions it placed on my social life. But I have found a solution - the 5:2 diet. No, not the one that's famous, where you diet for two days and eat normally for five! I'm dieting for five days and eating normally for two. I'm using the principles of the Blood Sugar Diet, with each of my diet days around 800 calories, and I'm using some of their quicker, easier recipes. I'm not being super-pedantic - I'm trusting the calorie counts on the recipes. I'm creating my shopping lists using PlanToEat.com, which isn't free, but it's a lot cheaper than the 12-week program!

I'm losing weight more slowly, which is disappointing because I'd hoped for a short, sharp solution, but I could maintain this lifestyle for a long time if necessary.

If I'm really strapped for time, I'll buy a VLCD product for one or two meals (either a shake or a diet bar). At one time, I would have felt bad about that, but I now know that the original idea for the BSD came from a Newcastle University study that did use such products very successfully.

Health Claims - Will It Reverse Diabetes?

The Blood Sugar Diet's biggest claim to fame is that it can reverse diabetes, and there is certainly scientific evidence to indicate that it could. The diet has gained fame thanks to Michael Moseley's book, but it's not his idea. The concept was originally studied at Newcastle University in the UK and you can read the results in this scientific paper.

The Blood Sugar diet is slightly different in that it doesn't use VLCD shakes. Instead it uses fresh, wholesome food in recipes which emphasize flavor, but the principle is exactly the same, so it's reasonable to expect the results should be similar.

Before you get too excited about the results of the Newcastle study, check that you have the type of diabetes which responds to the diet. Read this document for more information:

Reversing Type 2 Diabetes by Newcastle Biomedicine.

The Blood Sugar Diet is believed to be beneficial for Type 2 diabetics
The Blood Sugar Diet is believed to be beneficial for Type 2 diabetics | Source

The Opposing View

As with all new diets, not everyone agrees that the Blood Sugar Diet is a good thing. Here are some contra views:

The Truth Behind the Blood Sugar Diet - AEP Health Group

The Low Carb Diabetic

Why Low Carb Diets Aren't the Answer - Readers' Digest

Contra-indications

Of course, the diet is not suitable for everyone. You SHOULD NOT do it if you are:

  • Underweight and/or have a history of an eating disorder
  • Under 18
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Diagnosed with a significant psychiatric disorder
  • Frail, suffering a major illness or recovering from surgery
  • A Type 1 diabetic

If you are on insulin, or any medication for diabetes or blood pressure, you MUST plan your diet in conjunction with your doctor, because it's likely you'll need close monitoring to adjust your dosage as the diet progresses.

In fact if you're on any medication for a chronic condition, you should discuss the diet with your doctor before embarking on it.

Caution: f you have retinopathy you should have extra screening within 6 months (as retinopathy can sometimes get worse when blood sugar improves).

Comments

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  • Marisa Wright profile image
    Author

    Marisa Wright 11 hours ago from Sydney

    I know there are ready meals in the shops - when I'm NOT on a diet, I eat them all the time. But if you check the ingredients and the calorie count, they are often unsuitable for a diet.

  • RoadMonkey profile image

    RoadMonkey 16 hours ago

    There are probably Australian members in the Facebook group. Depending on where you are, there a ready made meals in the shops, eg https://www.plateful.com.au/brands/latina-fresh/fr.../brands/latina-fresh/fresh-ready-meals

  • Marisa Wright profile image
    Author

    Marisa Wright 25 hours ago from Sydney

    Yes, there are lots of delivery services for ready meals, from restaurants or other sources, but not for diet food. I don't know of any restaurants in my town that make diet meals and if I asked one to cook meals specially, I can only imagine how much that would cost!

  • RoadMonkey profile image

    RoadMonkey 27 hours ago

    Looks like a business opportunity for someone. There are some restaurants that will create meals based on their own menus. Maybe a restaurant near you would offer that and you wouldn't have to be concerned about plastic.

  • Marisa Wright profile image
    Author

    Marisa Wright 27 hours ago from Sydney

    I have tried a meal delivery service here in Australia but I felt so guilty about the massive quantity of plastic containers and plastic bags, I had to give it up. It only offered a standard 1,200 or 1,500 calorie diet anyway, meaning a slow and steady weight loss. If they had offered an 800 calorie program like the Blood Sugar Diet, I might have stuck it out on the basis that it would only be for a few weeks.

  • RoadMonkey profile image

    RoadMonkey 28 hours ago

    Meal delivery services based on calorie controlled diets already exist both in the UK and in the US. You can get lots of cookery books with meals too if you want to cook your own and there are weekly plans available. If you don't want to do that, do you have a friend who would cook freezer meals for you, for a fee? I think the biggest problems are (a) mouth boredom, where we eat because we are used to grazing and (b) portion size, because we try to supersize everything on the basis that "if it's good, more is better".

  • Marisa Wright profile image
    Author

    Marisa Wright 28 hours ago from Sydney

    Yes, I would be tempted if someone created ready meals based on the diet!

  • AMFredenburg profile image

    Aldene Fredenburg 47 hours ago from Southwestern New Hampshire

    A fair, honest, balanced review; thank you! I can identify with some of the issues, like organizing, using up food, meal planning, etc. It would be nice to be able to pre- prepare some of the food and stick it in the freezer or something. I suppose you could do that with the almond milk. I wish someone would come up with a "put it in front of me and I'll eat it" diet.

  • Marisa Wright profile image
    Author

    Marisa Wright 5 days ago from Sydney

    Glenis, that's why I decided to sign up for the online version of the diet. I thought if I committed to something like that, it would make me stick to it. It didn't quite work but on the other hand, I did learn a lot from it.

  • Glenis Rix profile image

    Glenis Rix 5 days ago from UK

    I'm Dr Moseley's biggest fan - I have the Fast Diet Book and the BSD recipe book by my bedside. Sadly, I have never summoned the willpower to stick to the diet. However, my health seems to be deteriorating as I get older and,inspired by the comments of RoadMonkey, I going to try the diet again. I t will have to be 5:2 suggested by Dr Moseley's wife ( a GP) in her introduction to the book - there's no way I could restrict myself to 800 calories every

    day for 8 weeks. Thanks for giving me the prod I needed.

  • Marisa Wright profile image
    Author

    Marisa Wright 6 days ago from Sydney

    @RoadMonkey, well done and thanks f0r the tip - I will go in search of the Facebook group!

    @David-Barnsley - I paid for a diet program because I know my weaknesses! I lack "stickability" so I needed to make a commitment to something and be held to account.

  • RoadMonkey profile image

    RoadMonkey 6 days ago

    I started on the BSD diet at the start of Dec2016, lost about 10 pounds by Christmas, took a week off for Christmas and started back at the end of December (New Year isn't anything big to me.) Overall, I lost 22 pounds and got down to 10 stone, which I was very pleased with. I joined the Facebook group for free and they were very friendly and helpful and there was always someone around to provide encouragement. I used shakes for breakfast and lunch and had one good meal a day that fitted in with my family responsibilities. The book was great. I found my best help was celery in the fridge all the time and cucumber. And also, sugar free chewing gum and hot drinks, even hot lemon and ginger.

  • Susan Sears profile image

    Susan Sears 6 days ago

    Interesting article. It sounds like many of the fad type diets - that simply are difficult to do. As for the diabetes cure- generally speaking Type II diabetes is caused by excessive weight and poor diet - so changing these factors with any diet will improve blood sugar levels. Type I or insulin dependent diabetes is a result from a malfunctioning pancreas so these factors do not change but can improve or lessen the amounts of insulin with healthy eating - though not always. That us why the diet is stated to improve Type II only. Very informative article.

  • profile image

    David-Barnsley 6 days ago

    A very thorough review of this particular diet. I have been aware of this diet and the work of Michael Mosley through his televsion documentaries.

    Personally I have had great success following a LCHF (Low carb, moderate protein, high fat) diet. In three months I lost 35 pounds to reach my healthy target weight. My average blood pressure is now 115/60 and I have stopped taking medication. My blood tests show a great improvement in my cholesterol ratios. I have not had problems with blood sugar in any case.

    I would be loth to pay out money to follow a diet plan, but I appreciate some people don't have the time to do their own research. There are books and plans to follow a low carb lifestyle, but you can get all the information you need online and from social media.

  • DeborahNessmith profile image

    Deborah Nessmith 6 days ago from Florida

    Great article. I haven't heard of this diet before, you gave a great overview of this diet and gave a great review. For me personally, I try to avoid carbs and eat lean proteins and vegetables, but were only human and some days are better than others. Thanks for the insightful review on the Blood Sugar Diet.

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