What does the crash diet entail? A bit more intense than your average "no carb" craze: participants are fed a patented combination of protein and fat through a plastic tube in their nose for ten days. They carry the diet solution with them everywhere they go, in a bag designed to look like a handbag or purse.
"The pump is very light and extremely quiet," a doctor who facilitates the treatment remarked. "And my patients report people helping them with their bags — they often think they have cancer and are under medical treatment."
At $1,500 a session the diet is no light undertaking, but advocates say the results speak for themselves. One woman lost ten pounds in eight days, but it's not unheard of to lose twenty.
"The heavier you are, the more weight you lose, so patients shed, on average, between four to nine per cent of total body weight in ten days," Dr Shidrawi explained. "Without carbohydrates, two things happen...First, you don’t feel hungry. Second, your body starts to burn fat stores at a huge rate. When the diet is administered steadily over 24 hours, the body remains in a fat-burning mode."
But some find the latest fad off-putting.
"It shocks me that people are willing to have naso-gastric (NG) tubes inserted in order to lose weight. Can you imagine walking into a meeting with an NG tube in your nose?" Helen Bond, a registered dietician, remarked.
"You will, of course, lose weight rapidly on such restricted calories — but no one should slim that quickly," she continued. "We recommend losing 1lb to 2lb per week, over a long period, during which time you learn how to manage your food and drink intake. The psychological and emotional reasons for over-eating also need to be addressed, which this plan fails to do."
But Dr. Shidrawi thinks the no-food diet may be the future of weight-loss.
Data compiled on 1,800 patients who undertook the diet showed that 85% of them kept the weight off, and because patients are monitored by medical professionals throughout the ten days, Shidrawi maintains that there are few uncontrollable health risks.
"If diets worked, if healthy food worked, we wouldn’t have obesity," he remarked.
"People try and fail, so what do we do, look at obesity and just let that happen? I will not do that."