The ABC Diet. Pros and Cons

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Disclaimer: This article is not written by a dietician, nutritionist, or medical professional. Always consult a medical professional before commencing any diet.

The ABC diet is, according to proponents, a method of tricking your metabolism into burning fat without going into starvation mode.

The ABC diet is an extreme diet that requires the follower to limit the number of calories consumed each day over 50 days.

Those who expouse this form of weight loss refer to the program as the Ana Boot Camp diet, or ABC diet. Ana is a reference to anorexia.

Whether someone wants to call anorexia a choice or a disorder does not rectify the fact that a person’s body does not function well on such a severely restrictive diet.

Just like a car, your body needs fuel to be able to operate. If you plan on going 50 days on calories that will normally sustain you for only 7 days, you are going to run out of fuel.

(The average woman thirty years of age in a sedentary lifestyle should consume 1800 calories a day. On average, following this extremely restrictive regime, you are consuming 250 calories per day on the ABC diet) 

THE ABC DIET. PROS AND CONS

How The ABC Diet Works

The diet runs for 50 days. During that time, you consume less than 800 calories a day, with the average being 400-500.

You can get your calories from any source. For example, you could have a banana split (about 500 calories) but nothing else.

The idea, but no science, behind this diet, is that the fluctuation of calorie consumption will keep your body from starvation mode and help you to lose weight.

Advocates feel that the ABC diet “tricks” the body into maintaining a high metabolism when consuming very few calories.

The reality is that a low-calorie diet encourages your body to shift into a low metabolism. 

There is no actual science behind the ABC diet, and there have not been any credentialed individuals that have claimed the base of the ABC diet contains sound nutritional knowledge.

THE ABC DIET. PROS AND CONS - skinny woman posing in the sun

Promotion of Anorexia

The origins of this diet seem to have come from online forums frequented by people suffering from anorexia. 

Rather than addressing anorexia as a psychological issue or mental illness, the forums present anorexia as more of a lifestyle choice.

Anorexia is a very serious eating disorder. There is an obsession with being overweight and food is often accompanied by an unhealthy fixation of calorie intake and calorie counting. 

A skewed perception of acceptable daily limits and negative body image goes hand in hand with this disorder.

Therefore, it is disconcerting that the ABC diet was developed by and for persons for whom anorexia is a real issue. 

At its worst, anorexia can lessen a person’s lifespan, be debilitating, and result in death. 

THE ABC DIET. PROS AND CONS - tape measure

Day One Through 10

In the first two days of the diet, you are allowed to consume 500 calories each day. Again, it does not matter where these calories come from as long as the total does not surpass 500.

Day three reduces the calories to 300, and on day four, you are up to 400 calories. The next five days are a very restrictive 100, 200, 300, and then 500 calories in that order.

On day ten, your reward is a complete and total fast. You are to consume 0 calories on this day.

That completes the first ten days.

Day 11 through 20

Week two of the diet bounces you all around, but the most calories of any day are 400.  Day 11, coming off the fast, is 150 calories. 

Day 12 is 200; the next day is a high of 400 calories. You will start back down with 350, 250, 200, and then another day of fasting on the 17th day.

The 18th day is 200 calories, the 19th is 100, and the 20th is another fasting day.

Day 21 through 30

After having recommended three fasting days in the first 20 day period, this next ten days does not see another fast. 

Instead, it is a gradual decrease in calories by 50 calories each day until you hit the 50 calorie mark. 

You will start day 21 with 300 calories. Once you hit the 50 calories a day mark on day 26, you will then complete the next four days with 100, 200, 200, and 300 calories on day 30.

Day 31 through 40

After having a big splurge of 800 calories on day 31, you will have to fast the next day. The next three days are 250, 350, and 450. 

Then you are hit with another fast on day 36. Finish out these ten days with a downward sliding scale again of 500, 450, 400, and 350 on day 40.

Day 41 through 50

The last ten days of this dietary regime bounces the calorie count up and down but never higher than 300. It throws in a fast for good measure. 

You will start at 300, then 250. Days 43 and 44 are both 200. Up to 250, back down to 200, and then heading into the home stretch, the diet allows for 300, 200, 150, and the last day, day 50, is a fasting day.

When you finish the 50 days, you are to return to a regular diet.

DayMonTuesWedThursFriSatSun
Week 1500500300400100200300
Week 2400500Fast150200400350
Week 3250200Fast200100Fast300
Week 425020015010050100200
Week 5200300800Fast250350450
Week 6Fast500450400350300250
Week 7200200250200300200150
Week 8FastReturn To A Normal Diet
THE ABC DIET. PROS AND CONS

List of Pros And Cons Of The ABC Diet

Pros:

  • You can eat whatever you want, even ice cream.
  • You only have to concern yourself with one aspect: calories.
  • You do not need to purchase exotic foods.

Cons:

  • Side effects are possible with the ABC diet. See below for the list.
  • No science or accredited medical proponents of this diet
  • The diet possibly promotes a serious disease, anorexia. 
  • You may lose weight, but the tendency will be to gain it back once a regular diet is resumed.
  • The limited calorie intake is hard on the organs of the body. 

Side Effects of the ABC Diet

  • Fatigue
  • Weakened immune system
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Low hormone levels
  • Insomnia
  • Low blood sugar
  • Hypothermia
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood pressure

What Others Are Saying About The ABC Diet

The Fork

The Fork, run by Chyrl Mosley, denounces the ABC diet. Chyrl is a board-certified and licensed family nurse practitioner. 

She holds a master’s degree in nursing and two bachelor’s in nursing and psychology.  

Her article on a diet gives alternatives for safer and healthier ways to lose weight. ABC Diet: Dangers & Alternatives (Ana Boot Camp Diet)

United States Department of Agriculture

If you want diet guidelines that you can print out and refer to, the Unites State Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a booklet with Americans’ guidelines. 

Through their research and recommendations, the USDA suggests that a person aim for fitness, build a healthy base, and choose sensibly.

The USDA guidelines state that a person should aim for a healthy weight and be physically active every day. 

Following the food pyramid guide, choose your food for the day to include various grains, fruits, and vegetables.

The USDA also states that you should choose a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. 

Limit your intake of sugars and prepare your foods with less salt.

Here are the dietary guidelines from the USDA.

From the Harvard School Of Public Health, here is the food pyramid. 

The Center for Disease Control 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) also weighs in (pun intended) on what a healthy weight is and how to balance your diet without giving up the foods you love in an article on Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight.  

If you feel that you need to lose weight, the CDC talks about Cutting Calories safely.

The Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic shares Weight loss Weight-loss basics. Weight loss comes down to burning more calories than you consume. 

While that sounds simple, it can be a difficult proposition. The most crucial aspect of losing weight is doing it healthily and becoming a lifestyle change, not a crash diet.

The Mayo Clinic Diet is an online resource if you feel that you have some weight you want to lose healthily and safely. 

As we also suggested, the Mayo Clinic feels that you should take to your healthcare professional before starting any diet type. 

Academy Of Nutrition and Dietetics

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, you should be Staying Away from Fad Diets.  

When you lose weight quickly, you also lose muscle, bone, and water. That can be why most people who choose a fad diet will regain weight quickly once the diet is over.

How To Stick To A Healthy Diet 

If you want to be successful in sticking to a healthy diet, it can often be a matter of attitude that will “tip the scales” in your favor. Here are a few tips to help you on your way.

Have Realistic Expectations

Starting with an unrealistic goal is the best way to set yourself up for discouragement. Life has enough stressors, so don’t add to the list. 

You are more likely to drop out of a weight loss plan if you try to lose too much weight in a short length of time. 

While some people have done so, that type of quick weight loss tends to be regained just as quickly. 

Keep A Motivator Handy

Before starting your weight loss plan, take the time to figure out what is driving the decision to go on a diet. 

Do you want to lose weight to get healthier? To keep from having to purchase clothes another size up?

Do you want to be able to play with your kids or walk a block without having to stop to catch your breath?  What is your motivation?

Having decided what motivates you, create reminders for yourself. Post them on the frig or bathroom mirror. 

Put up pictures that will remind you of your goal, copy inspirational quotes, and post them around the house. Remember that it is one day at a time, and you will get there.

Just Say No

Sounds easy, but it is not. You need to eat, and it is hard not to purchase just one box of candy.

Do your best not to bring temptations into your house. Make a list before you go grocery shopping and stick to the list of items on your diet. 

If there are others in the home with you, set up a cupboard to keep the things that are off-limits to you. Put a lock on it if it helps. 

It seems like when you can’t have something; you want it all the more. Set yourself up for success, not failure. 

If you can’t stand it going cold turkey, give yourself one meal out of the week of eating healthy when you can splurge.

Just know that it does get better as you go along and see progress, but until that point, everything is going to remind you of food, and temptation will abound. This, too, shall pass.

If You Fall Down, Get Back Up

The difference between a winner and a loser is that the winner got up one time more than the loser. 

In this case, you want to be a winner at losing. If you make a mistake and eat something or a lot of things that are not on your diet, that doesn’t mean you scrap the whole plan. 

It doesn’t mean you go crazy the rest of the day or berate yourself, either. Just realize it was a misstep and get back on the path.

Stock Up On The Good Stuff

Have plenty of healthy alternatives (that you like) on hand at all times. If you are going to be out and about, take some with you. 

Snacks like almond, peanuts, and beef jerky are easy to take along. Concentrate on what works for you. 

Yes, you will have to make compromises, and no, it won’t be as easy as going through the fast-food drive-thru, but it will be worth it. 

Improve Your Level Of Exercise

It can be hard to try and change everything at once. It can be even harder to incorporate additional demands on changes in your life. 

Research shows that when you make positive changes in your diet and physical activity simultaneously, one tends to reinforce the other. 

Depending on how much weight you want to lose, it may be best to start exercises out slow. The important point is to start.

Plan Before Eating Out

For most of us, eating out is not always spur of the moment. You might know the week or even day before. 

That allows you to check out the menu online and make a decision on what you will order.

Don’t get ambushed into eating somewhere that will not have choices that align with your diet. 

With the calories present in most fast food meals, you could wipe out a lot of progress in a single meal. Just remember that if you do mess up, start again. 

Track Your Progress

Keep a diary, mark it on a calendar, or use an app. Measuring your progress will help keep you motivated to continue. 

If you walk for exercise, get a pedometer to track how far you walk.  Know that progress may not be as fast as you would like, and don’t get discouraged. 

Time is going to pass regardless. You can either be six months older or six months older and ten pounds lighter. The choice is yours. 

Enlist a Buddy

Encouragement and accountability are what you will get from a friend who joins you on the journey. 

You can help each other along by being cheerleaders for one another. And you don’t even have to both be trying to lose weight. 

Maybe a friend is trying to quit smoking or learn a new language or any other skill. All it takes is two people who are both working toward a goal. 

You can find ways to support and inspire each other. Focusing on how you can help someone else will help you on your journey.

The Other ABC Diet

Satarist Robert S. Wieder constructed his own diet program in response to the many unrealistic fad diets on the market. 

Robert’s diet is also called the ABC diet and may be easier to follow than others as you only need to remember a few foods. 

Here are the basics of this entirely made up satirical diet designed to inspire a few laughs.

You will only eat certain foods that begin with the letters A, B, and C. Your choices from A are abalone, antelope, asparagus, and apples. Sounds yummy!

B foods will include beluga caviar (that’s affordable!), bouillon, bean curd, and baguettes. 

Round out this exciting diet with C: chard, celery, catsup, and carrots.

This ABC diet sounds just as ridiculous as the author meant it to sound!

In Conclusion

Being the optimum weight for your body type will help you lead a healthier life. There is no magic number that works for everyone. 

Consult with a medical professional before embarking on a diet to make sure it will improve your health, not detract from it.

While it may be trite, taking it one day at a time does work. 

If you concentrate on maintaining your healthy weight loss program one day at a time, you will see success. 

When you look at 30 days or 90 days or a year, it can seem daunting. You can do it for one day. And then another day and then one more. 

Using sound medical advice, construct your healthy eating habits, make a plan, get a buddy, and set forth to conquer your goal one day at a time.

FAQ

Is the ABC diet a healthy way to lose weight?

No. 

How many calories should I get per day?

From the United States Department of Health and Human Services, there are Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level – 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines.

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