Footy fans were left shocked at the sight of a streamlined Eddie McGuire on Friday evening, but experts have warned that the crash diet that saw him lose 15 kilos in three weeks can be “very dangerous”.
McGuire has dropped the weight after following Dr Shuquan Liu’s ‘The 101 Wellbeing Program’, which involves drastic fasting, cupping and acupuncture.
It claims to help “patients kick start their journey to achieving and maintaining a healthy and balanced body” and is the same plan Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull followed in 2011. He reportedly lost 14kg doing so.
The Collingwood president did not eat for two weeks, drinking three cups of Chinese herbal tea and unlimited water and black tea to get through each day.
In his third week, he told the Herald Sun he “was allowed to have half a cucumber before 1pm and 50 grams of chicken” each day and, amazingly, that he never felt hungry during the radical three-week detox.
“I feel great. I did not feel tired at any stage,” he said.
Brisbane-based Tracie Connor, an accredited nutritionist and an expert in sustainable weight loss, was happy it worked for McGuire – who has been contacted for comment by The New Daily – but said the program came with several health risks.
“Eliminating food for such a long time – it’s definitely not suited to everyone and poses risks,” she told The New Daily.
“If people have a toxic diet, involving junk food, and then stop eating suddenly, it can cause headaches, pain, nausea, sleep loss – the list goes on.
“It’s fantastic that it worked for both of them [McGuire and Turnbull] but fasting only suits a minority of people.”
Ms Connor urged anyone considering the program on their own to seek help from a registered practitioner because of the issues that can arise.
“It [the program] can be very dangerous, especially if someone does this with no guidance,” she said.
“People must get help from a trained practitioner before they start this and it’s not just about supplying tea and then that’s it. There needs to be regular check-ups.
“Symptoms can arise at any moment, too, so a practitioner should be on call 24-7, with check-ups every second or third day.”
Associate Professor Leonie Heilbronn, an expert in weight loss and fasting from the University of Adelaide, said the program simply wasn’t healthy.
“If you have an underlying health condition, you can definitely get yourself in trouble [doing this],” she told The New Daily.
“It’s huge [weight loss by McGuire] but by not eating for such a long period, you will drop a lot of water weight. That is put back on quickly when you start eating again.”
The program isn’t cheap, with News Corp reporting in 2015 it cost between $4000 and $9000.
It runs for 101 days – hence the name – but many patients do not finish the program.
Patients are told they will lose between five and eight kilos in the first two weeks of the program.
They are also told that “longer term, you can expect to notice an overall improvement in your health, greater ease in maintaining your weight, a better quality of life, lower stress levels and an ability to function at a high level without relying on medication”.
Keeping the weight off
Associate Professor Heilbronn said that patients would need to be “very careful” or they would quickly put on most of the weight lost.
“The hormones released from your gut that tell your brain that you are full – they are [confused]. Your hunger drive becomes very strong after a diet like this,” she said.
Ms Connor said the challenge was far from over once finishing the program.
“Statistically, most crash diets, after six to 12 months, most people regain half of the weight they have lost, if not more,” she said.
“After fasting for that long, people need to gradually introduce food and make good choices.”
McGuire acknowledged that would be a battle, saying “the next stage for me is to get myself physically fit again and keep the discipline up and make sure I don’t plonk it [weight] back on.”