Interview with Cambridge Weight Plan
creator – professor Alan Howard

Professor Alan Howard Why did you begin researching diets?
I began to think about dieting, short after I began to live with my wife. My lifestyle has changed drastically, I was spending more time at home and I became less physically active. The new lifestyle resulted in weight gain.

Are you trying to say that love makes you fat?
Some lose weight, some gain it. There are no rules, however a lot of men gain weight due to regular home cooked meals.

Have you thought about creating a diet for yourself?
Not exactly. The first thing I had created was low in carbohydrates bread. My idea was recognized by a famous doctor and we entered into cooperation. We then came across a problem of a diet for astronauts! For this reason we had gathered a group of scientists who worked on the meals composition. Our offer caught the interest of NASA and the following years I have spent researching in California. The created meal composition was of 2 000 kcal and was not designed for weight loss. However at some point I have decided to adapt our idea to weight loss needs.

What was your aim when creating the diet?
I was trying to figure out what a perfect diet should look like. I know that in order to lose weight one should cut down on calorie intake. However, often it is linked to low vitamin and minerals intake. So I focused my efforts on creating a diet which is low in calories but does not lead to shortage of nutrient elements. That was the purpose of my research which I have concluded in 1972.

Did you manage to lose weight on the Cambridge diet?
Unfortunately I couldn’t use it from the beginning as the research was conducted in hospital conditions. Our aim was for patients to use it on their own. After six years of thorough research we were certain of its safety and we began industrial production. At that point I started using the diet. I wanted to lose 6 kilograms and I managed that in four weeks.

Why were you so eager to lose weight? Was it just the looks issue?
First of all, I always think about health. Unfortunately an obese person is prone to many diseases i.e. diabetes, arteriosclerosis or hypertension. Second, it’s the esthetics, for instance buying large dress sizes. It is very stressful for many men, not to mention women.

Most of the people who diet, know that in order to lose weight you have to reduce calorie intake. The question is: by how many?
The diet was designed for a 400 kcal intake. Some people are terrified, but only the first three days are the worst. Then the body enters into a state triggered by chemical reactions which totally reduces the feeling of hunger. It is similar to being euphoric after having one drink. People who diet talk, laugh, are happy.

What are these chemical reactions?
It is called mild ketosis. The body derives energy from fat, not from carbohydrates what provides strength and clears the mind.

Is the Cambridge diet only for healthy people? Can people with diabetes use it?
People suffering from type 2 diabetes usually suffer from bigger appetite what causes obesity. There were cases where having lost 10 kilograms on the diet, the diabetes was no longer a problem. I believe reducing your body weight should be the first thing you do before undergoing pharmacological treatment.

What about other diseases?
There are many contraindications, for instance people who have suffered heart attacks can begin using the diet only after six months. All depends on the type of disease. Currently there are studies conducted in a clinic in Manchester on patients with different diseases and obesity.

We talk about the past. What about the present? Do you still conduct laboratory research?
At 70 years of age I have decided to stop with research. The Cambridge laboratory equipment was worth half a million pounds and did not constitute any commercial value. After the research ended we didn’t know what to do with it. Then I met a scientist from Poland – Mr. Grzegorz Mielcarz who had decided to continue our project. We gave him all the equipment. Professor Mielcarz works in Poznań and is in continuous touch with us.

What is your opinion on cooperation with Poland?
I am very pleased with the Cambridge diet success in Poland.

Back to you. What is currently on your plate? Are you loyal to the Cambridge diet?
Yes, every day I have a chocolate shake for breakfast and tomato soup for lunch. I enjoy this sour taste which we have produced especially for the Polish market. I always await an order from your country to complete my reserves. For supper I have meat and vegetables. For my it’s the perfect plan not to gain weight – Cambridge diet in the morning, meat and vegetables in the evening.

Why do you eat a large meal in the evening?
This is my philosophy – eating makes you hungry. Of course, it is not a rule to eat in the evening. I believe carbohydrates trigger hunger and it is better to satisfy it in the evening, and in the morning let it lay low.

What do you think about the vegetarian diet used widely by teenagers?
If done for religious and concept reasons then I cannot argue with this. However from a medical point of view it is a very dangerous method of nutrition. Man was designed to eat meat. By cutting out certain products we cause shortages in the body.

You have achieved a lot in your life. Do you have any vices, weaknesses?
I quit smoking a long time ago, every day I have half a bottle of wine for dinner what cannot be described as a vice. My weaknesses are what we call the 3W – work, wine and women!

Thank you for the interview!