So you’re telling me that there is a diet out there where I can eat CANDY every day?!?! Sign me up! Oh wait…the candy is made from kelp? And I can only eat 1,000 calories a day?! Ok in that case…GOOD LORD NEVERMIND. The above vintage diet ad for the “Kelpidine Candy Plan” once again proves that people will literally try anything to lose weight. This outrageous and potentially dangerous diet plan not only promises weight loss of 25 pounds in 25 days, it also boasts a money-back guarantee IF the specially-designed kelp candy doesn’t taste as good as your regular Hershey bar (this is what the business world calls “moxy”, as it is QUITE a bold move). So if this Pacific Ocean delicacy supposedly tastes great…what’s really wrong with this diet plan?
Let’s start with the fact that you’re eating some chocolate concoction made of seaweed. I’d say that’s a pretty solid place to start. Kelp is high in iodine, which stimulates the thyroid gland. This is likely why it’s used in weight loss supplements. BUT consuming high amounts of iodine – you know, like every day in candy form – can be just as bad as not getting enough iodine. And let’s face it, I’m skeptical to the claim that kelp candy REALLY is just as yummy as a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
The biggest problem with this diet is reducing your daily intake to 1,000 calories. For the record, this is REALLY LOW. Let me paint you a picture of what happens when you drastically reduce your calorie intake. Your body adapts to eating less calories by reducing its resting metabolic rate. It essentially goes into conservation mode so that you’re not burning as many calories and expending as much energy. That’s a temporary adaptation. But if you continue at this rate, your body goes into starvation mode. All of your normal metabolic processes come to a halt. The body will use up every source of glucose it has—glycogen from the liver and muscles, followed by glycerol from fat tissue. When your glucose supply is used up, you start to use ketones for energy, which are waste products of fat metabolism. The problem here is that your brain loves to run on glucose…not so much on ketones. As a last resort, the body will start breaking down muscle to get glucose from protein. This is why you start to see the muscle wasting that is typically associated with starvation.
Now of course, the friendly people promoting the Kelpidine diet probably didn’t intend for its customers to literally starve themselves (hey, remember they have kelp candy to munch on!), and I’m sure most people didn’t last on this diet that long. But the moral of this kelp-flavored story is that no matter how much iodine-laden candy you eat, you should NEVER reduce your caloric intake to 1,000 calories or less. And I’m about to blow your mind…but…that whole “rule” where you just have to reduce your calories by 500 a day to lose 1 pound in a week? Yup…it’s been disproven. The reason why? For all of the reasons I listed above. Your body knows it’s getting less calories, so it adapts and lowers its metabolic rate. So you end up at a new baseline metabolic rate and need to reduce your calories even FURTHER to see results.
The bottom line is that calorie reduction alone is not the Golden Ticket to weight loss. You need to think about adding exercise, eating more whole foods, and maybe, jussstttt maybe, leaving the kelp candy behind. It is KELP. Eat a Snickers instead.